Growing up in Southern California our family would often vacation at Yosemite National Park, which has to be one of the most spectacularly beautiful places on earth. We particularly liked all the great trails and hikes to marvelous destinations, like Nevada Falls, Glacier Point, Yosemite Falls, El Capitan. And the most memorable of all--Half Dome.
When I was about 14 years old my older brother, Barry, and I decided to tackle the 15 mile (round trip) hike. It starts at the valley floor (about 4000 ft. elevation), climbs up past Vernal and Nevada Falls, around the back side of Half Dome, then up the far side to the top, at 8800 ft. As I recall, we took the regular trail up and did just fine all the way up to the far side of the dome, where there is a steep switchback trail up the side of a smaller dome. Once you get there, you encounter a small flat area with a full view of the final ascent up the steep slope.
I distinctly remember looking at the seemingly vertical slope and feeling such dismay, and thinking there was no way I could climb that. Even though there are cables to hold on to, and wood slats to stand on, it just looked terrifying. We stopped to rest, ate our lunch, and contemplated our situation. I guess we got our courage up because we took to the cables. Once there it didn't seem as bad, as long as you kept moving and didn't look down. Once on top it was a glorious sensation of accomplishment and a scenic view.
Traversing down the cables was a bit frightful, as was the switchback trail down the dome. As we worked our way further down the trail we were getting tired, of course, and worried that daylight was slipping away. So we took the shorter "Mist Trail", with steep steps down the waterfall area. What misery that was to our legs! We finally walked into our camp after sunset, exhausted but feeling so proud. The next day our legs were so tired and sore we could barely walk. But what a fantastic memory to reflect on all these years!
Stay tuned for Half Dome, Part II.