I heard about it; then I had to do it. Such goes the simple story of my life. Half-Dome was no different. The summer of 2015 I was talking to a man who told me hiking half-dome was on his bucket list. The following summer my church camping group was hosting a trip to Yosemite, complete with a Half-Dome hike. Done and Done. I wasn’t nervous about hiking Half-Dome because at this point I already had two full marathons under my belt. I hiked with a group of about 20 other people. Most were first-timers, and most were very nervous. Every single person made it.
Half-Dome is an exceptional hike not just due to the overwhelming beauty but also because the peak is only accessible by climbing up cable wires. Half-Dome peaks 4,737 feet from the floor of Yosemite Valley. The half-dome hike is 16.4 miles round trip. The last 400 feet of the hike are via cable wires. Once at the top, the views are spectacular.
What I find the most fascinating about Half-Dome is its rich history. In the 1800’s a geologist named Josiah Whitney proclaimed that no man would ever set foot on half dome. After hearing this George Anderson began drilling holes into Half-Dome, he put eye-bolts into the holes he drilled. He would stand on the eye-bolts and used this method until he reached the top. Anderson was the first man to stand on top of Half-Dome. We all have a moment in our history, a moment we thought (or were told) we couldn’t achieve something. For me, it was Death Ride. I had an old friend tell me that I just couldn’t do it. I loved the way his jaw dropped when I saw him on the final descent. For Anderson, it was hearing no man would stand on the top of this specular summit. We are all capable of so much more than we realize.
I knew I could hike half-dome from the moment I heard about it, but what floored me was hearing the negative self-talk from everyone in my group. The entire group of about 20 people permeated the trails with chatter regarding a lack of training, being out of shape, overweight, not very fast—excuse after excuse. Every single one of them made it. I have learned to stop telling myself I can’t do things. I know better now. There comes a time when you have to put away the negative self-talk and just do. Just go, just throw yourself in, and swim.
In my experience, the most profound part of the half-dome hike was the people. It inspired me how despite living their fears, they were still moving forward. At the top of the summit, everyone came together and basked in the awesomeness of the task they had accomplished. Get your permit, and hike.