The hot weather brings the long afternoons at the poolside. Trevor, Logan and Lizzie are getting quite tan, with Trevor definitely leading the pack. On an average day the kids will spend 3-4 hours out at the pool during the day soaking it up, and then a hour or so of night swimming. We keep thinking that they will begin tiring of the pool, but they don't. It maybe the best investment we ever made.
So a group of us hiked the Panorama Trail in Yosemite on Saturday. I had been slowly planting the seed of enthusiasm in Jennifer's mind over the past six months to get her excited about the hike. We left around 5:30 in the morning so that we get to Yosemite Lodge in time to catch the bus to the top of Glacier Point which also is the trail head for the Panorama Trail. Seeing as there was not going to be another bathroom until a few miles down the trail, most of the group took advantages of the facilities at Glacier before we hit the trail. Glacier Point is around 7700 feet in elevation. Our ultimate destination, back on the valley floor, sits around 4300 feet in elevation, so we did a lot of downhill walking. I read once that hiking downhill is actually more physically taxing on your legs then up hill, something that we all can a test to today. The trail winded down from glacier to the Illouette Creek bridge which sits just above Illouette Falls. We took a nice break by the creek, enjoying my dad's story of his recent night stay at a doctor's clinic as they checked him for sleep apnia. From Illouette Creek, the trail sustained its only real uphill section, a slow winding climb for about a mile along the Panorama Cliff. While taking one of our many rest breaks along the climb, this group of people from Russia (?) came by and one of the more interesting dressed guys in the group slipped on the ground. While I haven't heard a lot of Russian profanity in my life, I do hear a lot of English profanity with my job and that is exactly what I picture Russian profanity to sound like. It was hilarious. The poor guy thought he was going to tumble to his death, although the cliff was around 50 feet away.
The views along the panorama cliff were spectacular, taking in most the valley. Once we made it over the hump along the panorama cliff we dropped down to the top of Nevada falls. Having already hiked a little over five miles, we all enjoyed soaking our feet in the cold Merced river while eating some lunch. We also noticed how many people appeared. Most back country Yosemite trails are well used, but you still find a lot of solitude. The crowds grow large on the trails as you get closer to the valley floor. Charged up, we then departed for the valley floor along the mist trail. The sierra snow pack was considerably lower this year and thus the trail was considerably less misty. We also noticed that the temperature became noticeably warmer as we descended. The mist on the trail at the base of Vernal Falls was a welcomed relief. After stopping to use the first flushing bathrooms for some time at the base of Vernal Falls, we completed the rest of the hike trying to get each other to guess movies from our favorite quotes. After expending so many calories, we thought it only fitting to fill back up at KFC buffet on the way home. Our bellies were so full, I don't know how I kept from falling asleep while driving.
Dad is making some very interesting noises today as he stands up and sits down. We are all enjoying grabbing his legs and watching him jump like he sat on a hot coal. It is funny to watch Jennifer negotiate the stairs with her sore legs, it's kind of a sidestep with face of grimace walk. Despite the soreness, I am very glad we went. It was even more cool to experience something I enjoy so much with my wife and people who I care about. I'm not too sure that I can talk them into going again next year though.
We held the first (and possibly last) Great Duckie Race for family home evening last week. Family and friends came with their decorated ducks to race them down a very small section of the the Friant-Gould Canal behind the house. The wind blew against the current and thus the ducks, causing many of the ducks to get stuck against the side of the canal. Dad took top honors for winning the race with his "Elvis" duck. Dad, true to his Macgyver self, attached a plastic bag to the bottom of his duck which acted like a under water sail catching the current and carrying his duck along down the canal quite a bit faster then anyone else's. Seeing that Dad was kicking everyone else's trash, the kids all began to throw rocks at "Elvis Duck" trying to make it sink to no avail. My duck, the "Dastardly Duck", took fourth behind Kelly's "Harry Potterduck". Lizzie (and mommy) designed her duck to be a princess. Logan made "Anakin Skyduck", and sticking with the Star Wars theme, Trevor made "R2-D2 Duck". My favorite design was Samuel's "Fetus Duck". Samuel spent some time working his duck inside a balloon which he later blew up attempting to make it look like a uterus. Unfortunately, Logan popped the fetus duck before it ever gave birth. Mica attached a balloon to a straw on the back of her duck to get a little extra propulsion. Unfortunately the balloon was spent before the ducks ever started to flow. We called it a night after Jared took four or five trips up and down the side of the canal fishing out the "dead" ducks and giving them back to their owners. Dad was rewarded with a bag of chocolates for finishing first. Julio was also rewarded with a bag of chocolates as a consolation prize for his duck sinking at the starting line. Julio tried to stream line his duck by cutting off all all the "unnecessary" parts. After taking one look at it, I named Julio's duck, "Vincent Van Duck" for the chopped off body parts. Sadly, Vincent Van Duck still remains at the bottom of the canal.