Ever since I was a little girl, I have always been up for an adventure whether it was running a 5K in third grade, skiing at six years old, or going on nature hikes with my dad to look for bugs. This summer, however, would become the adventure of a lifetime. My family and I flew from Virginia to California this past July to visit Yosemite National Park. Every year we go to a different part of our country; there are so many beautiful sites to see in this world and we are trying to visit as many as we can together as a family.
We stayed at the Yosemite Lodge and every morning I would walk out in amazement as I looked up at the majestic mountains towering over the lodges. Every day brought new wonders as we hiked around Yosemite's trails and waterfalls. The one feature that stood out at almost every angle of the park was the massive Yosemite icon known as Half Dome. We were going to hike this famous geological feature with an elevation of 8,835 feet above sea level and about 17 miles round trip. I had been training for weeks prior, yet it was hard not to feel intimated when looking at it.
Tuesday night, only hours from the strenuous hike, we ate a hardy dinner and were asleep by 8:30. Wednesday morning we woke at 4:00, filled our Camelbacks with plenty of water, food, and other necessities, and were on the trail before dawn. By 11:30 we were at the Sub Dome where a ranger collected our permits and warned us to head down immediately if the storm clouds in the distance became closer.
Sub Dome is made up of steep switch back steps that lead to the base of Half Dome. This is known as the most strenuous part of the hike. One misstep would take you thousands of feet down to your death. I led the way, keeping my attention focused on each step in front of me. Arriving at the base of Half Dome my family and I put on our harnesses and gloves, gulped some water and headed to the cables. Looking up from the bottom of the base, my heart skipped a beat at the thought of what I was about to climb. I grabbed the cables and embarked on the almost vertical climb to the top. I felt my adrenaline kick in as I used all my strength to pull myself up. There was much camaraderie along the way as fellow hikers encouraged and helped each other.
At the top, I went to the edge and stared out into Yosemite Valley with awe; everything was much more beautiful thousands of feet above. It was the most exhilarating experience I have ever felt as I looked around knowing that human beings have been climbing this slab of rock for decades and my family and I were one of them. At the end of the day as I lay in bed, feet sore and tired after twelve and a half hours of hiking, I recaptured the whole day in my head from the early morning wake up, to the cables, to the end of the hike as we all shouted our victory cheer. I realized that if you put your heart and mind into something, it can be accomplished. That was definitely my case with Half Dome. I may have been nervous, but I was determined to finish it and I did. This is a moment I will never forget.
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