The weather at the Park is stellar – about a week too late. The cables came down on Tuesday in half a day. The pipes and boards are now safely tucked away in their cave at the top. They won’t be seen until late May 2012. The last few days were pretty much of a bummer. Snows, winds and rain put the kibosh on many folks who were trying to squeeze in a hike last weekend. So for 2012, I implore you to book your accommodations today. All you have to pay is your first night. I have already reserved for 5 trips. Trust me they book up fast.
Now a few words about lightning. It’s deadly. In July of 1985, five hikers ascended up Half Dome late in the day and met with tragedy from two ferocious lightning strikes. Their story is documented in the book, Shattered Air. A True Account of Catastrophe and Courage on Yosemite’s Half Dome, by Bob Madgic (Burford Books). It recounts how the young men, full of enthusiasm and bravado, ignored nature’s warnings and hiked up the famed cable trail right into the vortex of a fierce thunderstorm. They took shelter in the rock “cave” enclosure at the summit.
Lightning struck the Dome twice, killing one of the hikers and causing a second to tumble over the edge, out of the grasp of his best friend. Two survivors were gravely injured. Other hikers arrived at the scene and administered emergency medical treatment for over five hours deep into the night. Finally, an air ambulance helicopter arrived in Yosemite Valley at 12:30 a.m., and in a race with the descending moon, made three dangerous trips to the top of Half Dome to bring the surviving victims down from the summit.
I met a man this summer who was on the helicopter crew that night. He was spotting the pilot as the chopper descended. He called out the height above the rock as they descended. “80 – 60 – 40 -40 – 30 – 20.” Wow.
Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” – John Muir
*MrHalfDome™ – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com