The Great American Road Trip: Lesson 6


As we drove north through California, flat wine country became rolling hills, and rolling hills became rugged mountains. Here we were, having our first look at Yosemite National Park; I could hardly speak.

the great american road trip

We parked and I attempted to pick my jaw up off of the concrete long enough to make a few photographs. The sheer magnitude of the place is enough to leave you breathless.

The iconic Half Dome lit by the setting sun.

The day we arrived Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgenson set a record for being the first people to ever free climb the Dawn Wall. News crews were still buzzing.

The last bits of sun left the valley. Erin turned to me, “So where are we sleeping tonight?”

I had planned on camping in the truck. As we made laps to find a parking spot, it became apparent that my plan was botched. As it turns out, car camping in Yosemite is highly illegal and strictly enforced by the local smokies. It was dark; I just hoped that we could still get a campsite for the night. I followed signs to CAMP 4.

There were a few spots left. With cold, numb hands we assembled the tent and rolled out our sleeping bags. Stars lit up the pitch black sky.

In the morning light, I realized that we had set up right next to the midnight lightning boulder. I ate peanut butter banana oatmeal slowly and reflected on how much of climbing history had been birthed in that exact spot.

After breakfast, we set out on a hike.

Don’t look down.

Arguably, one of the most beautiful places either of us had ever seen. Erin takes in the good tidings.


Lesson #6:

A little research never hurts. At the very least, familiarize yourself with the regulations