Lessons from Hiking Half Dome

Lessons from Hiking Half Dome:

I am delighted to have experienced again the beauty and the thrill of hiking up and down Half Dome in Yosemite National Park.

Unfortunately, though, I made the same mistake I made while hiking Rim to Rim at the Grand Canyon. God designed the human body to run efficiently on the nourishment of food. It fuels our bodies to be able to match the challenges before us. I thought that I was eating better on this hike than I had on the Grand Canyon hike, but I clearly was not eating nearly as much as I should have for I definitely ran out of energy as the hike went on. Sadly, I realize this is my tendency not just when hiking but in the whole of my life. I get so focused on the task I wish to complete that I do not pay attention to myself or to my needs. When I was younger and in better shape I was able to get away with this—at least in hiking. But I recognize now that I need to change my approach to life. If I really want to be able to accomplish anything of value in my life, I need to pay better attention to who I am and to what I need so that I can take in what is needed to be able to accomplish what is possible.

The value of being noticed: Different folks who had planned on joining me on this adventure ended up falling out for different reasons, so I made this hike alone. On my way down, while absolutely exhausted, I occasionally sat down along the trail to rest and renew my energy. Most people just passed by. But I remember one man in particular who stopped and asked if I was all right, if I had enough water, if there was anything else I needed. That man may never know how much his interest meant to me. What I realize from this is that there are many people I pass in life who may be feeling worn out from whatever it is that they are facing. Perhaps there is nothing I can do for them. But taking the time to stop, and to ask, and to pay attention to them may turn out to mean as much to them as that man’s interest meant to me.

The self-centeredness of exhaustion: Normally when I hike I am a friendly hiker. I say hello to people I pass. I strike up conversation with those I have the opportunity to spend a few minutes with. When I reached the point of exhaustion on my way down, I still found the ability to look around at the beauty of the Mist Trail and the waterfalls and such. But for quite a stretch I had no energy to extend friendliness to other people. That evening at the Curry Village grocery store (while buying an “I hiked Half Dome” shirt and an ice cream treat for myself) a customer in line was very rude to one of the sales clerks. When I reached the checkout stand, that cashier was telling my sales clerk how rattled she was from her encounter with that man. Later that evening I thought about the similarity. I wonder how many folks who are as rude as that man was are actually feeling as exhausted about something as I was while hiking. Perhaps I can look beyond the rudeness to the exhaustion, hurt, fear, weariness of soul that might be disturbing them.

The presence of God: Though I had no family or friends joining me on this hike or meeting up with me when the hike was over, and though I missed the company greatly, I was not alone. All through the hike, I talked to God and I recited verses that helped to keep me going. I am so grateful for God’s promise to be with us in all things, and I am so grateful for the truthfulness of that promise! It was so good to have His company during the hike and afterward!


One response to “Lessons from Hiking Half Dome”

  1. Laura Ullrich says :

    I had an amazing time hiking Half Dome with you years ago, and I’m proud of you for doing it again!

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