Monday, June 11, 2012

Extremely Strenuous

Fourth time's a charm.  Four years ago I attempted the National Park Service's classified "extremely strenuous" hike to the top of Half Dome.  I made it about 20 feet up the cables but my healthy sense of self preservation persuaded me to turn around.  The 400 feet of cable allows a hiker to ascend the "perfectly inaccessible" granite peak.  In theory these cables were a great idea, but the path drops off sharply on both sides, and if you're afraid of heights, the National Park Services' assurance that relatively few people have plummeted to their death isn't persuasive enough.  See what I mean:

As I sat at the base of the cables, feeling like a complete loser, I watched 12 year olds, women in flip flops, and guys too "cool" to use the cables make their way to the top.  I was determined to try again one day.  The next year Yosemite decided to enact a permit system and only allow 400 people a day access past subdome (before the permit system was in place an estimated 1200 people would climb Half Dome on a peak summer day).  We weren't one of the lucky permit recipients so that year we hiked to the top of Upper Yosemite Fall.  The next year (year 3) we were able to secure permits but crazily the cables were still down in June due to unprecedented snow fall that winter so we hiked to Glacier Point.  That brings us to last weekend.  Permits in hand we hit the trail at 5am.  Getting to be out in nature without any other hikers and seeing views like this of Vernal Fall with the moon in the background makes getting up before the sun totally worth it:

This year I was well prepared.  I knew exactly what to expect and I planned accordingly.  This preparation included spending a good 30 minutes trying on all the gloves available for sale at Home Depot looking for the perfect grippy pair.  I was very seriously tackling this glove selection process and contemplating the pros and cons of each pair, so much so that a fellow shopper approached me to ask what type of project I was working on.  The gloves did the trick!  Here's me at the base of the cables:

And here's me at the top:

I'm so proud!  If you want to read up more on this hike, check it out here.  You should also definitely watch this Yosemite video; breathtaking.   

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