How hiking Half-Dome helped me


238 days ago, I found out that I was going on a trip of a lifetime; a trip full of adventure and courage, a trip full of towering mountains and rolling ocean waves, and a trip that would teach me the importance of overcoming fears and determination. 238 days ago, I found out that I was traveling to California for eighteen of the most memorable and life-changing days of my life.

Ever since December of 2016, I have had the goal of hiking a mountain in Yosemite National Park, but not just any mountain. This particular mountain had a prominent title, attracting eager tourists from across the country. This mountain’s name was Half-Dome. So on my eighteen-day trip of greatness, I made it my own personal mission to hike this mountain. And now that my trip has ended, I can proudly say that I hiked Half-Dome in about twenty-two miles and twelve hours.

As much as I would like to say that I was ready to hike this colossal dome, I cannot; because the truth is, I was not ready. I was scared, and I nearly failed to reach my goal.

The night began like this: my group and I sat around the crackling fire, while shooting stars danced across the sky. Stars speckled the night, and as I sat hesitant to embark on this tough hike, a certain part of my mind was hopeful that I would. After a few tears and many words of encouragement, my mind was made up, and the long hike to Half-Dome began.

We started hiking at 12:30 in the morning, so you could say that I began the hike very tired. It was a straight uphill hike, and almost every hour, we took a break for snacks and refueling. As tired as my body was, the one thing I will always remember is looking up at those stars. They were the most beautiful stars that I have ever seen. They covered every inch of the sky, and there wasn’t a patch of darkness to be seen. As cliche as it sounds, the stars lit up the night and lit the way to the top of the peak.

Continuing to the mountain, we passed a waterfall that rushed with water and splashed cold bursts of mist on our skin. I later learned that this waterfall was called Vernal Falls. As the sun began to rise and the sky began to brighten, seeing the valleys and picturesque qualities of the other mountains was completely and utterly breathtaking. Right at this moment, I can still close my eyes and picture the stone mountains sustained in the air while the valleys dipped low.

After what seemed like weeks of hiking, we reached the hardest and most popular part of the dome: the cables. Lining the stone dome, were dingy wires and wooden planks. Looking up at the towering climb ahead of me, my heart dropped to my stomach. My heart was intensely pounding, and I had to take a deep breath and begin.

The hike of the actual dome was no easy climb. It was very steep and upright. The final stretch of Half-Dome is not for the faint of heart, and I learned that from experience. In order to hike the dome, one must have intense endurance and both physical and mental strength. There is really not one bit of advice that can better prepare you for the summit of Half-Dome more than this: bring gloves and don’t look down. I was thoroughly exhausted when I finally reached the top, but it was definitely worth it.

Hiking Half-Dome not only taught me how much strength is needed to do an entirely uphill hike but also provided insight on my determination for overcoming fears. For the people who know me, they know that at first, I am very reserved and timid. I don’t like stepping out of my comfort zone, and I am hesitant to try new things. But despite that and looking back now, I can feel proud and accomplished. I hiked a twenty-two-mile hike, to and from Half-Dome. It was something to be proud of and something that definitely helped shape me to be a better person.

Someone once told me, the greater the obstacle, the greater the glory in overcoming it. In that exact moment, standing at the top of Half-Dome, I could agree wholeheartedly. I overcame a challenge and fear of mine. In that exact moment, I felt like I was on top of the world. In that exact moment, I felt accomplished and truly, completely happy.

Ultimately, I will forever be thankful for my travels on Half-Dome. Not only did I have to conquer the strength physically, but I also conquered the strength mentally. I feel stronger because of it and am ready for whatever mountain is next.