Personal Growth

A Right of Passage – preparing for a shift

By Albert E PerrySep 07, 2022


My 70th Birthday – A Right of Passage

There was a burning desire to do something epic so I just kind of threw out the idea of, a rite of passage. I figured this was certainly a milestone to be honored as it was about to be my 70th birthday. The implications of what I was presenting myself didn’t then occur to me.

My wife Erin and I processed several ideas and came up with well, “let’s hike and then climb Half Dome!” This is a difficult hike, but beautiful. It fit the criteria of Epic, especially at my ripened age.

We had, relatively recently, hiked this trail (The Mist Trail) until what we thought was halfway to Half Dome, to the top of Nevada falls. Although the hike was hard on us, we really enjoyed it. Yosemite is an absolutely beautiful place in Nature, and a great place to spend a 70th birthday celebration.

When I set things up like this, for myself, the Universe provides me ample opportunity for greater experiences than I imagined. I’m open to that. As I presented myself with the experience of a rite of passage,” I did not know what I was asking for. The process was rich!

What is a Right of Passage?<img alt="logo for A Right of Passage">

After the fact, I researched the rite of passage, because of the immensity of what I had just experienced. Actually, I’m still in the process of experiencing it.

Supposedly there are three phases to a rite of passage. This phrase was coined by a French. Ethnographer Arnold van Gennep in his work: Les Rites de Passage. The terminology is now adopted into anthropology, literature, and popular cultures.

These three phases are separation, transition, and incorporation. He called the transition part liminality. It symbolizes moving from normally one group to another group. Through the process of that movement, in the transition stage, you’re not part of either group. I had no clue what group was I coming from and what group was I moving toward.

<img alt="Graph showing Separation - Liminality - Incorporation">

The thought didn’t even really occur to me about this process as I was setting this up. My thinking was: “I’m turning 70 and need to do something that is difficult. This will demonstrate to my clients and students that my lifestyle is applicable for a healthy and rich life experience,”

A Right of Passage was more than I bargained for.

The Ascent

The first eight-tenths of a mile is pretty nondescript, just a slight incline, paved and gently rises to the first artifact of the journey, a wooden bridge traversing the Merced River into which the Vernal Falls empties.

It’s really energizing to hear the water. The sun hasn’t peered over the mountains yet, so everything’s a little hazy. Our journey begins in earnest after the bridge. The road now transitions into a trail interspersed with rocks with the incline getting steeper for another piece of a mile.<img alt="the steep granite stairs on the mist trail in Yosemite ascending to Venal Falls  ">

As we approach the mountain, the vernal fall staircase rises in front of us. It is not a normal staircase. These are giant steps of various heights, some of them as much as 24 inches in height, granite steps, and I have a picture as an example. We didn’t get a lot of photos on this part because we’re just focused on getting up these steps. I did bring walking sticks, and they were helpful and I’m so glad that I brought them, Erin, my wife did not bring sticks but she’s in much better shape than I am.

<img alt="the seemingly endless assent of granite steps to the top of Venal Falls in Yosemite">

These steps go on for about a mile and then you get to where you can see Vernal Falls. The falls are breathtakingly beautiful, as you can see in the picture.  Thundering and dynamic sheets of water crash down the granite cliffs. Mist rises as the water crashes into the broken blocks and shards of granite below.

<img alt="Vernal Falls in Yosemite National Park">

At the top of the falls, there is a brief respite, a few feet of flat trail and we pass a clear pristine body of water called the Emerald pond. It beckons me to jump in. However, there are warnings not to swim as an undertow would pull one right off the cliff into the falls.<img alt="the view from the top of vernal falls beckons the observer"><img alt="Emerald Pond at the top of Vernal Falls in Yosemite National Park.">

We start another ascent into a different kind of stairway The stones ascending between vernal and Nevada falls are not as organized. These steps are not quite as steep but they’re less sure-footed as the rocks are not as square. It’s another mile and a half of this climb. At this point, Erin gets ahead of me as I paced myself while we climb.<img alt="Irregular chunks of granite create the stairs between Vernal and Nevada Falls in Yosemite.">

The sun starts coming peeking over the mountains as the ascent continues, step after step, continuously going up. My legs feel it for sure. However, I’ve done this part of the hike before so at least I know what I’m in for.

Listening to the crashing waters of Nevada falls has been the background soundtrack for a while. Now the falls come into view with a white mass rushing down the slope of the mountain like a hurried force of liquid thunder sliding down sheer granite. It’s not a straight drop like Vernal Falls is but more angled. I am mesmerized as the churning waters come slipping past me into a gorge.<img alt="Nevada Falls hurried plunge down the granite slopes in Yosemite National Park.">

It is surprising to me that the falls have as much water in them as they do because in California we’re in a drought. There was no expectation on our part that the falls would be as full as they were. I was relieved and happy to see that.

Aside from this, now I needed to get to the top of these falls, as this will be a milestone because it is as far as I have hiked up this trail in more than 50 years!

As I finally reach the top of Nevada falls my legs get a little break because the trail becomes flat for about a mile. The path actually gets kind of sandy and it’s that way up to Lake Merced which is the source of the Merced River. It’s a body of water that collects the snow melt and the rain that seeps through the granite of the higher elevations until it gets here to this lake.

<img alt="The morning sun on Lake Merced in Yosemite National Park.">

The woods around the lake are mostly pines with varied heights. It’s not quite a forest, for the dominant landscape is the granite which is so incredibly amazing. This park was formed by a glacier that cut through that granite and created Yosemite Valley and sliced the mountain where we are hiking in half, to give its name: Half Dome. There are countless vast walls of sheer granite. Variegated colors of hundreds of thousands of years of evolution are etched in these granite cliffs throughout every step of the hike through the beauty of Nature’s marvelous wonderland.<img alt=" sunrising over granite mountains on the mist trail in Yosemite National Park.">

After the brief flats, the ascent continues on… and on… There are fewer pictures from this phase going up, because the focus is on putting one step in front of the next, with an occasional break for essential water. We brought 5 liters. At the time I thought it was overkill, but it turned out to be just enough!

When I thought it must be close to the beginning of the sub dome, I passed a rare sign, the mileage left to travel.<img alt="the 2 mile marker of the distance left to Half Dome in Yosemite National Park.">

I choked back tears. I couldn’t believe there were 2 more miles. I was fatigued. Doubt crept in.

No! Yelling at doubt, told it where to go! Back to hell where destructive emotions breed to rob us of our joy and life. Imagining my upper body as a sail, the breeze behind me started pushing me up the mountain. A smile came across my face. My mindset training was being put to task, and it worked! I (almost) glided up the path until it disappeared onto pure granite. The journey was almost done because I made it to the base of the sub dome!

There was the peak on the not-to-distant horizon. I can do this!

Erin was waiting, she was a half-hour ahead of me and she was just starting to worry when she saw my tired body and yellow shirt making my way up the sub dome.

<img alt="Half Dome in the near distance in Yosemite."><img alt="Al Perry ascending the sub dome of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park.">

We were near the top of the world and the views were truly spectacular!<img alt="The view from the sub-dome of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park,">

A reward for the journey thus far is a brief rest, listening to the ranger go over the dangers of the final assent. The cables of Half Dome!

The Cables

Erin has a fear of heights and my arms were very fatigued because I used hiking sticks to help me traverse the mountain. Therefore, the cables looked to be even more challenging than we thought. But we were going to try.

The angle of ascent is 60 degrees on sheer granite. The cables are steel threads woven into a metal rope. 5-foot poles are drilled into the rock and the cable threads through them so you can grab one cable with each hand. If you don’t wear rubberized gloves, they are slippery.

Those poles rise up at 6 feet intervals. With a 450-foot climb, there are 75 of them. We made it to number 6 before Erin said, “I can’t do this,” and we turned around and came down the left side, walking sideways.

At the bottom, a hiker told Erin she could do it and just needed rubber gloves, and she gave Erin her gloves. Another hiker gave me his. I had rubber gloves but had accidentally brought 2 right-handed gloves. We looked at each other, asking silently if we should try this again.

A man named Larry called out: “Let’s go up in a group and encourage each other as we go!” We agreed and started up again. We’d go two or three poles then rest a few seconds. Repeat.

Sometimes folks would come down the left side, we’d go to the right. My arms were shaking. About halfway up I told Erin I was getting dizzy. Wrong thing to say. But Larry, bless his soul, calmed her and told her to go up and he’d stay with me.

I shortened my treks to one set of poles and rested a little longer. Larry kept talking about other things, to get my mind off my stressed body, I suppose. Then a second wind came into my body, refreshing it and I went up four sets of poles, and again, and again, and all of a sudden, I was there and Erin was beaming as she saw me come up, we had conquered Half Dome! I was by far the oldest person on the mountain that day and I got many congratulations. It was exhilarating!

<img alt="The top of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park."><img alt="Erin East and Al Perry on the top of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park">

<img alt="The view from the top of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park"><img alt="top of the world in Yosemite">

There was a little cave we found to cool off in. We also ate some fruit and it was delicious!<img alt="Al Perry and Erin East in a cave at the top of Half Dome">

Now to go down. It looked downright scary, but gravity really helped and we walked sideways all the way and we figured we had done the most difficult part of the journey!

Stopping to eat some lunch at the summit of Sub Dome, we found a bristle cone pine that gave us some shade. I had dried salmon jerky, half an almond butter sandwich, and lots of wonderful water! We were literally on cloud nine!

<img alt="Al Perry and Erin East at the cables of Half Dome">

The issue at hand now is that we had to hike 8.5 miles back to the car! It seemed to take forever. Our calves were already sore from all the steps, going down was much more difficult than I thought!

The Descent

Departing the sub dome at 2:30 in the afternoon, we arrived at the car at 7:30. Each landmark going down seemed much further than it should have. I realized that our rite of passage was much more than getting to the top, it was completing everything that went with it.

We walked down together for the whole decline. That was really special. Erin usually power walks way ahead of me and then walks back to check up. This time, we had the same pace going down the entire trail. During this part of the journey, we talked about what an amazing adventure we just experienced, and took in the incredible beauty of our surroundings. It made the difficult trek back rather delightful! <img alt="along the Mist Trail in Yosemite"><img alt="The evening sun on filtered by trees in Yosemite National Park."><img alt="Sun setting along the mist trail in Yosemite">

After finally arriving at the car, we still had a half-hour drive to the lodge we were staying at El Portal. There was a Pizza place on site and it closed at nine. I was hoping that we could get our order in. Those carbs sounded really good about now! First I had to check my activity on my health app.<img alt="Al Perry's activity chart for Half Dome hike. 52,382 steps, 19.1 miles">


We made it back in time and I waited in line for about 20 minutes to order, as the lodge was pretty packed! After eating and a much-anticipated bath, we then had a visitor. She was a rarely seen Ring-tailed cat. <img alt="Ring Tailed Cat in room at Yosemite View Lodge in El Portal, CA">

A relative, but much smaller than its cousin the raccoon, this cute little creature doesn’t usually show itself, but she was a messenger. We couldn’t sleep, and after seeing our visitor, we knew we had to get back to our own furry family left at home — our sweet 18-year-old kitty, Littlest, and our 3.5-year-old Lab, Ginger. The team we assembled was back taking care of them, but we knew we had to get home soon,

Therefore, the journey was not yet complete.

We left El Portal at about midnight and got home at about 4:20 AM…

I went around and came in the back door since we had given our front door keys to the folks taking care of our furry family. As I walked in, to my left I saw Littlest, our kitty, levitating above her lifeless body. She had just passed. I let Erin in the front door. There were a lot of tears shed that morning. We had a ceremony and buried her the next day.

<img alt="Erin East grieving 'Littlest' ">

Our shift had happened. We did our Rite of passage and our lives will never be the same.


I work with energy in my healing practice. At 70 now, I know my practice is changing. I will be focusing more on the energy bodies and less on the physical.

We experience life entirely through our senses. This journey we took led us to maximize that experience. Beyond the sensory world, there is more. We are more than our physical bodies.

It’s my purpose now to fully explore that realm that I have been working on the edges of for some 30 years.

Now is the time to dive in.

Many folks may be skeptical of anything that cannot be seen and proven with the senses.

Others are conditioned by what they were taught and have no place for something so esoteric.

That’s OK. This work isn’t for everyone.

However, if you are compelled to want to discover more of your true nature…

If you are ready to make a significant shift in your life…

I have developed:

A Right of Passage – curative transformation, just for you.

In this work, you will learn to:

  • change the response of your body to various types of traumas
  • use constructive emotional energy to overcome destructive emotional responses
  • understand who you are and what your true life calling is
  • take action to become your best and true authentic self
  • Live joyfully instead of fearfully

Schedule a free 15 min call to see if you are ready for the shift. Schedule Your Call Here


Jump right in and schedule your first hour Right of Passage -Curative Transformation Session Schedule Session Here

<img alt="logo for a right of passage">

If you are experiencing a shift and want some tools to navigate it. Check out my “Right of Passage” Mindset Mastery personalized workshop here.

Most of the photos are by Erin East, as I forgot my phone charger so my phone was on airplane mode most of the time.

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  1. Your story of your "Rite of Passage" brought tears of happiness, wonderness and I admit sadness, for the loss of Littlest. You are truly an amazing human being and it has been a privilege knowing you for so many years. Love you my friend.❤

    1. Thanks so much, Lori, for reading and connecting…

      Little Girl is free now, but we miss her.

      It’s hard to lose your furry family.

      Thanks for your kindness, love and friendship!

      Miss you!

  2. Happy belated Birthday, Al! Enjoyed reading your honest account of a what must have felt like such an accomplishment. I have such a fear of heights, yet have always been drawn to Half Dome. After reading this, I thought to myself "maybe I can do it one day!" Sorry to hear of the passing of Littlest. All the best to you and Erin

    1. Thanks so much, Courtney, for taking the time to read and comment.

      It’s great to hear from you, it’s been way too long!

      You can certainly do it! Just take one step at a time!

      We will miss the littlest Little..
      She was a sweetheart for sure, but it was her time. She’s free now!

      Takes care, Courtney, and Half Dome is waiting! Keep Thriving…

  3. That was the most beautiful and articulate description of your journey. Sorry for your loss and happy for your gain. Thank you for sharing and Happy Birthday my friend!

    1. Thanks, Sutton!
      It’s was an amazing journey.
      I’m grateful that you took the time to read and comment.
      Enjoy Hawaii, and I look forward to our continued connection on your return!
      Keep thriving, my friend!

  4. The fascinating story of the Rite of Passage.
    A wealth of rare works here: Vernal waterfall, granite rocks, emerald pond etc.
    I am also 60 years old; this experience is a model for me.
    To overcome your destructive emotions, to reach the top of the world: these are desirable things.
    I really liked that in the difficult moment someone came with: let’s encourage each other!
    Exciting episode of Littlest.
    Heavy, esoteric things.

    1. Thanks, Vasile!

      I’m really happy you enjoyed walking this journey, abd seeing it as a model for your own right of passage.

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

      Keep on thriving!


  5. Al:

    Congratulations on 70 years of beautiful aging and to you and Erin on summiting Half Dome together.

    In keeping with your continuing transformative work for yourself and those you serve, I am sharing the following website on the case of Best Evidence for Survival of Human Consciousness after Permanent Bodily Death: https://www.bigelowinstitute.org/contest_winners3.php

    Continue to grow and transform in your living, loving, wisdom, and serving that you already do so well.

    Happy Birthday Al

  6. What a super way to spend a birthday, climbing up the Half Dome at the top of Nevada Falls. I loved following you and Erin’s journey on your day of the climb. Apart from the beautiful scenery, and realising what a challenge it must have been for you, it has inspired me to plan a rights of passage experience for my next birthday. 

    Although your day ended on a sad note with your cat passing, achieving your goal hopefully lessened the sadness. Thank you for sharing your experience. 

    1. Thanks, Line, for talking the time to read and comment.

      It was epic for certain!

      Yes, plan an event, a rite of passage, you’ll be glad you did!

      Keep thriving!!


  7. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with this “rite of passage”.  This place looks absolutely amazing and yet a little scary.  I’m surprised with the fact that you decided to do this.  There was so much walking involved but the scenery is absolutely stunning.  This really seems like a place to go to to relax yet not relax, if that makes sense.  Like physically it’s challenging, but it just looks like a place to be able to clear your mind at the same time.

    1. Thanks, Jessie, for taking the time to read and comment on my journal.

      Yes, it’s an incredible place on our planet, no where else quite like it!

      Clearing the mind absolutely.

      Relaxing? Not on this hike!

      Keep on thriving!


  8. I am amazed, Al. Your Right of Passage article was so inspiring and beautiful. What an achievement for both of you. Especially for you at age 70. And how fantastic to be on top of the world” when you achieved your goal. I remember many years ago, and a much younger me, arriving at the top of Sulphur Mountain in Banff and the beauty I saw made me totally understand why people climb mountains! I shall be 80 in two years, so perhaps I’ll start planning my own inspirational adventure for then. Best wishes, Jenni.

    1. Thanks, Jenni, for taking the time to read and comment.

      Thank you also for your kind words.

      Yes, plan something challenging, and go with friends and family for support.

      It'll be amazing, congrats on your almost 80th
      I'll join you in the next decade 🙂

      Keep on thriving!


  9. This is an amazing experience! Reading your article is almost like watching a movie. As I read your words and look at the images you captured, my imagination begin its work.

    I would say that you are both brave to tackle this unimaginable trail. A Right of Passage – Curative Transformation

    So many things come into perspective. And so many life’s lessons come into play.The challenges. The rewards. And then in the midst of your traverse, you met 2 strangers that will encourage you to go on. It’s a life’s script. A Right of Passage – Curative Transfomation

    This experience must have given you a lot. As I am reading this, it had placed me in a different level of emotions, being inspired by your spirits and tenacity. I felt wanting the same experience.. Indeed, we experience life through our senses. You have discovered a new meaning to your adventure. The manner in which you respond dictates the next step. A Right of Passage – Curative Transformation

    This is not for everyone. But the message it gives is for everyone to assimilate. Such an awe-inspiring experience!

    1. Thank you, Maria, for your kind words abd detailed response.

      I’m so happy you enjoyed walking through my adventure with me.

      It certainly did give me a lot, abd the gifts continue to pour in.

      Yes, it paralleled life’s challenges and rewards.

      Thanks again and keep on thriving!


  10. This is an amazing experience! Reading your article is almost like watching a movie. As i read your words and look at the images you captured, my imagination begin to work.

    So many things came into perspective. And so many life’s lessons come into play. And in the midst of your traverse, came 2 strangers that would encourage you to go on.

    This experience must have offered you more than you bargained for. A Right of Passage – Curative Transformation.

    As I am reading this, it had placed me in a different level of emotions. Inspired by your spirits and tenacity, I wanted the same experience. The challenges. The rewards. LIfe’s message in a nutshell. This experience is not for everyone. But it is for everyone to assimilate the message this experience brings. A Right of Passage – Curative Transformation.

  11. Hey Albert,

    As I was reading through your post and seeing the passage on your photos, I imagined you at 70 that it was really a challenge. A mile of ascending stairs is surely an epic experience. I can only wish you a happy 70th birthday strong man! 

    Climbing stairs good for old people as stair climbing increases leg power and may be an important priority in reducing the risk of injury from falls in the elderly. 

    Stair climbing can help you achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. Stair climbing can help you build and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints.


    1. Chao to you, Kayamba!

      Yes there were many stairs, many miles actually🤣

      Stairclimbing is certainly good for ones health on many levels!

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

      Keep on thriving!


  12. Happy Birthday! I really enjoyed reading your article on your Rite of passage. The pictures are awesome. I am going to be 70 in February, and the thought of doing what you and your wife did would be impossible for me. I would have to think of something not as strenuous. So sorry about your cat, Littlest. All the best to you. 

    1. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, Carol!

      It’s great to set a challenge for yourself at this amazing milestone in life.

      Just do something slightly more difficult that you think you can do, and take you’re support group with you.

      You’ll need so happy you challenged yourself!

      Stay well and keep thriving!


  13. Wow! Vernal falls looks absolutely amazing! 

    The right of passage is a great name for your article. To pass the time during long voyages or in difficult circumstances, every civilization needs a way for people to leave the town. Over time, this type of transit becomes a way of leaving a job or school name. In this age of technology, people use electronic gadgets to swiftly pass from one place to another. However, a way of leaving a place name remains essential. The idea derives from the fact that no one wishes to remain forever on an unfamiliar shore.

    Thanks for sharing your journey and absolutely AMAZING photos. At 70, you’re in fantastic shape. Best to Erin!

    1. Thanks, Daniel, for taking the time to read and comment!

      Vernal falls were amazing, even in our deep drought they are powerful!

      Thanks for your perspective on right of passage, it is a magical way to move though times and space!

      I will give your regards to Erin.

      Keep on thriving!


  14. It seems that some people feel that they need to accomplish something before entering into a “new” experience. I have always thought that a right of passage had to do with an achievement that was accomplished in your life that would propel you into a profession where you would have rights and privileges that you could not have until you got the certification. Applying this to your phases- a medical Doctor recognition separates you from others that have not achieved the recognition and your life style under goes a transition until you can incorporate all the values and the privileges of what you have accomplished. 

    The right of passage to a certain age milestone, I have never though in this matter before. Through your experiences climbing up the mountain, you truly are an inspiration. The pictures you have posted and the descriptions really are awesome! Many seniors would like to do the same but health limitations  set them back. You have been blessed with great health  and remind us all about the need to enjoy terrific experiences in life well we still can. Thank you for helping others believe they can do something incredible too!

    1. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

      Yes, this is a different application for a right of passage than most. I realized after the fact that what I had just gone through meet the criteria, because I am a different person after the experience than before.

      I also now understand my work  needs to expand to teach folks they are more than their physical limitations.

      Keep on thriving!


  15. Great story! Rites of Passage are truly an interesting experience. I enjoyed the story of your climb and then came to the demise of your "furry friend." I related to that even more. It has been four years since we lost our "Bailey" (German Shepherd/ Black Lab) at 18 years of age and one of us mentions him regularly. Continue on my friend!

    1. Thanks again, Phil.
      It’s always difficult to lose a member of our fur family.
      No dog can replace Bailey, but another four-legged friend can make the holes smaller.
      Good luck on your own journey and keep on thriving!

  16. Very well written.  Well structured.  Good use of descriptions.  I thought I recognized the early names but would have appreciated being told where you were geographically.  Because I truly am intrigued by the way the mind works I would have enjoyed a little more about the Rite of Passage.  I also observed that part of your motivation may well come from your beautiful climbing companion!  

    1. Phil, Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

      I felt the article was already long, and mostly about the journey itself, so I will write a more detailed article on the “Rite of Passage” in the future, as I am still processing everything that has shifted for me since that event.

      Erin, my wife, is indeed always inspiring me. However, my motive was to complete a tough assignment so as to prove to myself that I could still accomplish such a task. Erin came to support that.

      Since you asked, I am from the San Francisco Bay Area. (Cupertino to be presise) And our journey was to Half Dome in Yosemite National Park in the Central Sierras bordering Nevada.

      Stay well and keep thriving!


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