Saturday, May 31, 2008

There & Back Again- A Tale by Jason Tegen

With one word I can adequately describe the 8.2 mile hike up to the summit of Half Dome: relentless. You find out real quick how in shape you are (or are not)! I arrived at the trail head around 5:45 AM and began an instant ascent up the side of a raging river. There are several routes to choose from during the first half of the hike and I decided to take the longer, but dryer and less aggressive Nevada Falls/John Muir trail. Within a mile and a half I was rewarded with incredible views of the valley and my first glimpse of the dome. Though I passed several people along the way, I hiked 95% of the trail alone, which was refreshing. Most of the way I heard nothing but nature: water crashing, birds singing, my own shuffling feet. I reached the top of Nevada falls in good time and had my breakfast at the top of the 600 foot falls overlooking the river gorge steeply descending to Yosemite valley. It was at this point the trail began to taunt me a bit. Half Dome looked somewhat close but was still so far. And it seemed like each time I got another break in the trees to see the dome, it kept moving higher and farther away. From the top of the falls I still had a little over 5 miles to the summit. There was a nice section of trail just after the falls that was flat and very quiet. It proved to be much needed as the last 3 miles was brutal. Specifically, the last mile before the summit was enough to hurt your feelings! I stopped to rest 3 or 4 times in the first 7 miles and probably 10 times in the final mile alone. I finally topped the small dome before my final ascent to the summit. There I was met with the amazingly steep 400 foot section of cables that led to the top. Pictures could never do justice to the sheer steepness of that final climb. Different sources say it is a 45 degree angle, but it sure felt sharper than that, especially in the middle. I was fairly spooked by the climb and heights usually don't bother me. It was almost dizzying because there was nothing but thousands of feet of drop all around. At around 9:45 AM I summitted Half Dome, making 4800 feet of elevation gain in right at 4 hours! The summit was breath-taking and a just reward for the hike. It offered 360 degree views as far as your eyes would let you see. Snow capped mountains, Yosemite Valley, and Glacier point to name a few. It was a beautiful as any sight I've seen. Words and pictures really don't do it justice, especially the cables. But this was an incredible adventure and a dream I've had since I was 14.
The hike down was very much the same as the way up. I arrived back to our tent in Curry Village after 17 miles and 7 hours of hiking. I'll leave you with my trophy picture from the diving board of Half Dome, 4800 feet directly above the valley floor.

Friday, May 30, 2008

California Dreamin'- San Fran. and Yosemite!

We landed in California Wednesday around midnight. The smooth flight was a confidence booster that flying isn’t so scary after all. A bad experience flying in February had me, Kelley, terrified of planes. Thanks to those who prayed! We navigated our way to our rental car (got a free upgrade to a Sebring convertible…woohoo!) and left to spend the night just outside San Fran. The next morning we saw beautiful yellow, rolling hills as we drove farther from the city to Yosemite.

Our first stop was to see the giant sequoias. How massive they are! We hiked all around the grove then headed into the valley. On the drive farther into the park, we saw deer and got to test out Steve Erwin’s theory: the lower you are, the less threatening you are. It worked!

As we drove a little farther, we came out of a tunnel to see this breathtaking view. El Capitan is on the left, Bridalveil Falls to the right and Halfdome, the monster Jason will be climbing, is in the middle. It’s all more beautiful than the pictures can show!

We are so excited to be here! But before we paint too rosy a picture, we’ll wrap things up with our cabin stories. We arrived at our canvas tent in the 40-something degree weather (which dropped to low 30’s after dark) and stored all of our stuff in a bear-safe container. People were loud, the canvas thin and the air cold. I was awakened by a guy who, screaming like a girl, must have run into a bear. And then, what I dreaded most happened: I had to go to the bathroom. My two trips before bed hadn’t worked…and it was now 3:15 a.m. I cautiously looked both ways through the door and carefully made my way to the lit facilities. After I finished, I peered out the door again, and there he was! Thirty feet away I thought I could make out a bear head beside a tent. I darted back into the bathroom, but he saw me. I watched his shadow coming closer and with trembling hands faced him to clap the loudest clap I could muster. It worked…he ran away like a scared cat. I ran back to my tent and haven’t been back to sleep since!

It’s now around 7 o’clock. Jason left early and is now partially up the mountain to Half Dome. I’ll spend the day in the valley, and we’ll make sure to give you all the details tomorrow after he’s returned and had some much-needed rest!

Hope everyone is having a great Friday!

Monday, May 26, 2008

On Our Minds in Georgia

Wow, it was good to be home with family and friends this past weekend! While we were there, we made several observations:

1. Driving time goes much faster when you DO something.
We tried the prayer name game. Pick a location and take turns praying aloud for people by name who are associated with that location.

2. There is no place like the country.
Life is simple, quiet, and refreshing.

3. Vegetables taste much better fresh from the garden!

4. When at home you realize how much you miss the family and friends who live there.
*Pics with friends & family to be posted soon.

Monday, May 19, 2008

An Evaluation of Vows

Weekend to Remember - An Experience You'll Never Forget
We spent the weekend in downtown Greenville, SC for a Family Life marriage conference. Although our marriage of three years continues to get sweeter with time, we wanted to take an opportunity to be proactive and invest in ways to make life together better. This weekend was a wise investment.

We attended 11 sessions with titles promising to give information about why marriages fail, what every marriage needs, and how marriages thrive. They gave the fire hydrant version!

Our deepest impressions were to receive our spouse as God's perfect gift for us, to receive our spouse NOT based on our spouse's performance, and to always focus on God's mission for marriage: to mirror His image, experience companionship and multiply a godly legacy.

The highlight of the weekend was a renewing of vows. This came after fully evaluating what it really means to be devoted and make the promises professed at the altar. God's plan for oneness in marriage is truly astounding. It takes work and submission on our part.

Notable Quotes: "Nagging is like being nibbled to death by
a duck!" Dick Hastings
"It's not, 'Can I trust God?'. It's 'Can
God trust me?'."- Chuck Simmons

Engaged or Married? Attend a conference by going to and select Attend a Conference. Volunteer for a discount rate!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Babies, Byes, and Blessings

Last week was a blur of toddlers and college students. The first three days we became parents while our friend Martha Marie and her husband Eddie headed to Georgia for Martha Marie's major surgery. By the time we left on Wednesday we were just beginning to learn the art of juggling diaper, potty, car, bath, and nap times. It was exhausting yet exhilarating! Smith family, you have two precious kids! Mom Tegen and Mom Harrell, we appreciate you. Thank you for all of your hard work taking care of us growing up.

Then, our home of 120 became a home of about five. As students left for summer break, we said some sad good-byes and many see-you-laters. One by one our 2007-2008 Resident Assistants headed out for home, and two, just this morning, headed out for a month in Africa. We hope you all have a great, refreshing summer!

Then came the realization of blessings. Our two friends we prayed for are healing incredibly well. Our friend from Central Asia even wrote: "People at school have been calling me the walking miracle because everything went so well and my recovery has been so quick...We can’t have a testimony without a test. I have trusted in [God] and He has been faithful." We are thankful for the good reports.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Our Part

As we enter our last week of classes for Southern Wesleyan's Spring semester, we are filled with mixed emotions. We are excited for events coming up this summer but will greatly miss our 120 residents/friends who live with us. We have learned a lot this year...and are excited to start fresh next semester knowing what we know now.

While we are preparing to say goodbyes, we are also thinking about two friends who have had or will have major surgeries...and we want to do our part in seeing them through this time. So as we pray, we invite you to join us to see these two incredible women receive complete restoration:

1. Angie Leet- Central Asia, teacher at Caspian Academy, recent surgery for a ruptured appendix. Pray for no infections and quick healing as she receives treatment in a foreign country.

2. Martha Marie Smith- Liberty, SC, wife of Eddie Smith, brain surgery tomorrow (May 6th) for a brain aneursym and weakened artery wall. Pray for the surgeons to have wisdom and accuracy, for her husband and two children, and for a quick, complication-free recovery.