Make Yosemite Your Destination
By John P. DeGrazio
I had the opportunity to lead a late season Half Dome hike yesterday with a new friend, David from Singapore. While discussing what led David to Yosemite on his first visit to the United States, his story immediately impressed and inspired me. David comes from an island nation whose highest elevation is 163.63 metres (537 ft.). Like most of us, David likes adventure gear. One particular company (Salomon) struck his fancy. I also really like Salomon footwear, and I am currently enjoying my latest pair of Eskape Aeros. David likes to run and never really trekked before he visited the Salomon website. While surfing the site, he noticed a lot of people enjoying themselves on various trails. That piqued his interest. Knowing he was to arrive in the United States for a conference and training, he decided to purchase a pair of trail runners. Since he would be in Las Vegas and Los Angeles, he decided he would also like to explore one of the crown jewels of the American National Park system. Ultimately, he chose Yosemite National Park, and that leads us to our story.
We began our morning early and made our way up the Mist Trail ahead of the sun. We started fast, but our pace wasn’t sustainable. David had hit a wall and was struggling as much as any first time Half Dome hiker. I assured him we would continue at his own pace and his safety was my number one priority. We were less than one mile from the summit when we reached a vista I like to call Motivation Point. David was certainly motivated and he began to take each step with more confidence. From this point he shared one of the most memorable quotes I have ever heard on this trail. His legs were starting to hurt and he apologized once more for his slow pace. After I wouldn’t accept his apology (like I need an excuse to spend extra time up there), he saw the cables for the first time. He had been telling me his story about how he made it to Yosemite and took another break. At that moment he gazed at the summit turned to me and with excitement,
“Forget the conference, I’m here for Half Dome!”
We continued and were soon at the top. From there he was overjoyed and a bit overtired. It was a great day full of lasting memories and interesting photographs. David knew he was going to the conference but his decision to extend the trip into Yosemite helped make a positive change in his life. He concluded this was his greatest adventure.
Here are a few panoramas I collected from the trail.