Thursday, May 22, 2008

Off To The Top Of The World (Sorta)

Friday morning, I am heading for Yosemite for a nice (rainy, likely very crowded) Memorial Day weekend in one of the the most spectacular places on Earth. In the past two years, I have been blessed with the opportunity and the means to visit a number of natural wonders in the southwestern states, and this is the latest.

Last Spring Break, I did a whirlwind road trip tour of the Canyonlands, including Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, the Four Corners, Glen Canyon, Natural Bridges Park, Capital Reef, Utah's Highway 12 ("A Byway Through Time"), Kodachrome Basin, Bryce Canyon, Zion Canyon and of course the Mojave Desert. Last month I visited Death Valley for the first time and saw some of the miraculous wonders there.

But none of these amazing places compares to Yosemite and I simply don't know the words that could adequately describe the utter majesty of the place. I will let some photos do the talking when I return.

Depending on the weather, we are going to attempt to summit Half Dome on either Saturday or Sunday. I'm not sure which day because we are not yet sure which day will have better conditions (likely neither will be great). And I say "attempt to summit" because if there is an thundercloud anywhere on the horizon, you can't go near the summit.

The reason for this is that after a nearly eight mile hike up 5000 feet from the valley floor, the trail reaches the exposed granite Dome itself (see the photo above). At this point, there is no more shelter and there is no more trail. Instead, there is about 400 feet of steel cables bolted to a nearly sheer rock face and held in place with iron posts. Between being the highest point in quite some distance and the unintentional metal lighting rods sticking out, this is not a good place to be in a thunderstorm, and unfortunately they are all over the forecast throughout the weekend.

With luck, we will reach the cables early enough in the day that the storms won't have developed yet. Assuming that neither my wife nor I chicken out (I seriously doubt it if we get that close), and assuming the weather holds, we will each climb to the top of one of our longest held goals. We certainly won't be the first to make it there, but it will be our first time and that's all that matters.

So sometime around noon on Saturday (and again on Sunday, just in case) think happy, lighting-free, good-traction thoughts.

1 comment:

Rick Deutsch said...

Good luck to you and you are right about not going up the cables if the there is thunder or rain in the area. There are plenty of lower hikes to do.

Rick Deutsch, 21 times
"One Best Hike: Yosemite's Half Dome"
Wilderness Press