Last year we spent a fair amount of time in California.  I would have to say, the time we spent in Yosemite was some of the best!  Driving up the winding roads, rising in elevation, and anticipating our time in this pristine wilderness.  First stop, a makeshift mall complete with a grocery/post office/restaurant covered by a seasonal canvas.  The Tuolumne Store is a great place to meet a friend, or leave a message for one.  It is all you need in the way of “social networking” in this place.

Like ants to honey hikers/climbers gather in the masses for supplies, mail drop offs, and maybe some quick needed hamburger energy.   As I pick up a couple burgers Donn checks the bulletin board for that message that might call out to him.  When he returned I knew he had found something, because he had that look in his eye. He says to me, “Hope you don’t mind, I’m going climbing tomorrow with this guy. I don’t even need any gear.”  Dennis, the man who left the note on the bulletin that caught the eye of Donn, was here wanting to climb.

IMG_3343  IMG_3365

If someone asks, “whats one of your favorite places you’ve been”. Tuolumne Meadows is  absolutely in the top three. The challenging trails, the dome scrambling, not to mention the technical rock climbing really brings out some real athletes. Here, Dennis points out the way to go. He navigates Donn up a 3 pitch(rope length) route, Donn leading it all of course.

IMG_3362   IMG_3364

IMG_3368

IMG_3375  IMG_3376

Right after a quick bite they headed up another dome.  This one right on the side the road, the Stately Pleasure Dome has easy access to multiple classics. They made quick work of this climb, only a 400 hundred foot route.

IMG_3468     IMG_3471

Dennis is a full flavored vibrant soul. His energy explains how he lives his life….to the fullest.

IMG_3483    IMG_3488

While we were in Yosemite(summer of 2013), almost every evening we were pushed out by these smoke clouds.  The fires in California were really bad that season.

IMG_3492

We had one more climb in us before the winds would pick Dennis up and carry him off to the West Coast to meet his sweety. So we made it a good one. Cathedral Peak.

IMG_3623   IMG_3626

As we headed up the sweet climbers trail we witnessed a pine martin wrestling a chipmunk for dinner.  Too bad we interrupted his concentration, because the chipmunk got loose. The pine martin ran back and forth in search of his prey.  A couple of snap shots, and back to the mission.

IMG_3627     IMG_3629Cathedral Peak is one of the coolest summits in Yosemite, not to mention one of the best 5.6 alpine rock climbs anywhere. With nothing rated over 5.9, a spicy leader can find some good lines to the top of this 700 foot treasure.

IMG_3634              IMG_3635

IMG_3642

Funny thing, as soon as Donn or I were within earshot of Dennis, he kept reminding us that Donn truly is keeping it “spicy”.

IMG_3650    IMG_3654

IMG_3666

It’s hard to capture the feeling of a summit in a picture. This particular peak may be 3 feet by 7 feet, just big enough for the 4 of us to sit on.  The views are absolutely stunning.  It truly feels like an ocean of rock, and you’re sitting on the biggest wave.   At 10,940 feet you never know who you’ll cross paths with.

IMG_3668  IMG_3671

IMG_3677    IMG_3673

While hanging out on top Donn eye’s an alternate trail to get back to the main road.   So we decide to take the route less traveled.  Seeing Cathedral Peak from a different angle was rewarding. You can see Cathedral lake behind Yoda in the summit shot, we walked around it back to the highway.

IMG_3684

IMG_3691   IMG_3693

Ohhh, SNAP!  Look who remembered to pick us up! YEAH, Dennis!

IMG_3695No matter whats going on, if Dennis see’s a photo opportunity he’ll more than likely take it. Here the smoke is rolling in once again, and the lighting, positioning, and wildlife are screaming Dennis’s name. At the time we had no idea he was so talented with a camera.   If you would like to see his work, here is his link.  http://denismorel.smugmug.com

IMG_3696     IMG_3703      IMG_3697IMG_3711Dennis couldn’t part ways without showing some kind of gratitude for such a memorable time. With a hand-off like this, how could we say no.  Mind you, he better have a lot of gear if he is gonna be climbing like this.  He is a true athlete.
IMG_3716

Dennis, your what makes life rich. Thanks for crossing our path.

IMG_3714