The Incomparable Half Dome Hike Jun21


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The Incomparable Half Dome Hike

There is nothing in all the world like hiking Half Dome in Yosemite. It was thought to be inaccessible until George Anderson first scaled it in 1875, John Muir was the ninth person to ever climb Half Dome. Last week I hiked Half Dome with my son Josh. As I reflected on our hike, I came up with three reasons why I like hiking this granite rock so much: (more photos below)


First and foremost, it’s a spiritual experience. I feel close to God when I drop into the Yosemite Valley and when I hike Half Dome. Nothing wrong with Chris Tomlin leading praise and worship accompanied by a jamming rock band, but I’ll take Vernal Falls, the Mist Trail and the view from the top of Half Dome over that any day. The Psalmist said, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” It’s like this psalm was written about Yosemite. John Muir said,“No temple made with hands can compare with Yosemite. Every rock in its walls seems to glow with life … as if into this one mountain mansion Nature had gathered her choicest treasures, to draw her lovers into close and confiding communion with her.” I didn’t want to come home. I wish I could live in Yosemite … until the first snow falls this winter or until you try to get an Internet connection or phone connection – then I’m glad to be back in LA.


It’s funny that I like climbing Half Dome because I have an uncanny fear of heights. It’s a fear I had to overcome to do this hike. One of my top five strengths from the StrengthsFinder book is Achiever. This hike delivers a sense of achievement. The Half Dome hike is considered an extreme and a strenuous hike by the Yosemite National Park. It’s about an 18 mile round trip day hike. You ascend 5,000 feet in elevation. By the time you get to the Subdome, your legs are burning. Some consider climbing Subdome as more difficult than climbing the cables. The cables require upper body strength. It’s not only a tough climb but you can die – people do almost every year. It’s risky. I like risks but not usually ones that can kill me. However, this does heighten the sense of accomplishment. It certainly is an adrenaline rush. When you stand on top of the summit and look at the 360-degree view of the Yosemite Valley it truly is spectacular. You almost need to have perfect storm conditions. You need to get a permit. You need good weather. You need to be in shape, which means you need to train for this trip by hiking. You need to not have any pulled muscles prior to the hike. You need plenty of rest. You need good shoes. You need good protein snacks. You need plenty of water – proper hydration is essential. The list goes on and on. But when everything comes together it’s epic. 3. It’s a BOND BUILDER. It’s a special experience that I share with my son and daughter. Jessica made it to the top of Half Dome a few years ago as we hiked side by side. I ran out of water on the top and she gave me some extra water so that I could get down the mountain. Josh and I have hiked Half Dome three times now. He asked me if we could do it together this year. It’s a special father/son bond that we share. We love the challenge, the beauty and the togetherness that the adventure offers. I told Josh that I hoped that when he had kids someday that he’d continue the tradition of hiking Half Dome with his kids. He said he would. J