Yosemite Half Dome Summit....Heal, Inspire, and Conquer Your Fear
2017 has been my Year of Yes! For all of us lovers of travel, we say Yes when an adventure presents itself. My adventurous friend, Sloat, had posted on Facebook the call to adventure to hike Half Dome. He had 2 permits to also go on the cables to the Half Dome summit, and options to get a permit closer in. More on this on our travel guide! With no training and no permit, I just said Yes!
The timing for this adventure into the wilderness was perfect. I was back home in San Francisco after a year of adventures. I needed this time to reflect and get back into nature, and only a 4 hour road trip to Yosemite and a really long hike was just what the doctor ordered. For the past 6 months, I had been working in NYC after a spontaneous yes to a job in sales. Quickly, I realized that the fast pace concrete jungle of NYC and this job was not right for me. This is where I learned about balancing the power of No with my year of Yes. The challenge of the hike to Half Dome would give me the space to figure out what my next Yes will be.
We began our 8 mile hike to the Summit at 7 AM, which overall was a bit of a late start. We crossed foot bridges over rushing rivers, a glimpse of the intensity of the water from the waterfalls we were about to encounter. We took the John Muir trail up with smooth dirt switchbacks as we climbed higher above the Yosemite Valley floor with views around every corner. The first hour and half was easy and I was relaxed in my happy place. But then we started to reach the sheer rock of Yosemite, and our easy hike began to be more difficult. We watched our footing carefully, and began to realize the intensity of this hike. As we turned the corner, the grandeur and intensity of nature came at us full force with the view of Vernal Falls from above. With the large amount of winter snow, Vernal Falls was at it's highest speed and intensity that took our breath away as it dropped down 1400 feet. My first hints of fear took over as I realized that my year of Yes and life would be taken if I made one wrong misstep. From the mist, a rainbow appeared and a smile spread across my face. Nature can be fierce, but it always shines on you and tells you with it's small signs to keep going.
The hike kept going up and up on half hazard rocky steps, and I realized this is where the training would have been helpful. I tried to start reflecting on my next steps in life, but all I could think of was how my legs and bum ached. I asked myself questions..... What should I do with Wanderkarma next? Should I figure out my next day job? Should I just travel? The questions circled, and no conclusion could come. All I could think of was taking one step in front of the other. Half Dome and this challenge had brought me into the present. Nature taught me again that the questions are not to be answered, but that I just need to take 1 step in front of the other and believe what is right for my next Yes will appear if I am present.
The Wilderness surprises you often. We reached Subdome at 1 PM, and I did not have a permit. There is a little secret that can still allow with luck to summit, and more details on this in our guide. As I waited for that opening, a Bobcat patiently was on the hunt for a squirrel. We watched as he intensely went from one spot to the next with extreme patience for his meal. I realized nature was providing me another lesson to have patience with the process in my new life changes, and patience with myself. After the excitement of the Bobcat moved on, a permit opened up, and I was on my way to summit Half Dome!
After scrambling over the dangerous rock of the sub dome, I thought I had gone through the most difficult part. Then my eyes set upon the massive rock called Half Dome. Fear took over. My heart raced and my hands became balmy. I realized my fear of heights at that moment, and thought maybe this is where the power of No should come in. As Sloat descended his climb with a huge smile, he said you do not need to do this, but when will you be up here again? He said those powerful words, "I will be there for you," I realized how important it is to have friends supporting you in your journey, and grateful for him to be there!
I put on my hardware yellow gloves, and began to climb. I said the mantra of "mind over matter", and I looked straight at the rock in front me. The key for me was to not look down. I used all of my arm strength to pull myself up the cables 6 to 10 feet between each 2x4 wood step. The vertical was straight up and down, and there was no room for error. If I let go, I was dead. If someone on the cables slips, I was dead. I had to learn to trust others on those cables, a life lesson that has been challenging for me the past few years. Other climbers are going up or down on the same cables. As they go down, we all had to communicate to make sure that we do not back into each other and can share that little 2 x4 for a moment in the sky. Sloat encouraged me the whole way. When I felt like just giving up, he sensed it and said the worst is over, and you are 80% there! I pushed myself up the rest of the cables, and tears of joy for conquering this fear overwhelmed me.
As I looked down those cables, I realized how far I have come in this small adventure and overall in life. I was grateful for my health, my determination, my mind to conquer my fear, and good friends to support you along the way. And, I took the moment to enjoy the present and being on top of the world.
Inspired to conquer your fears with Half Dome or just take a hike into the wilderness of Yosemite. Sign up today for our free Yosemite Guide to summiting Half Dome. Let us advise and help plan your next trip with a focused expert simple guide! Details of where to stay, eat, side trips, training tips, how to get your permits, and all the little secrets of Yosemite will be in the guide. Feel free to ask us any questions you may have!