Sometimes the best way to face your fears is through pure ignorance. Little did I know that on the 4th of July, when I traded the opportunity to watch fireworks for a day hike in Yosemite National Park, I'd come face to face with the edge of the earth.
This route, only open part of the year due to heaps of snow that blanket the mountains during the colder months, winds up and around for about 16 miles until reaching an eye-popping sightseer destination that perches high above Yosemite Valley. Providing a splendid vantage point behind safety rails, tourists can gawk at the wide, yawning valley 3,200 feet below, while Half Dome and the High Sierras stretch endlessly across the vista.
After meandering less than a mile through tall shady pine trees, scattered with grassy meadows teeming with vibrant green ferns and florid wildflowers, we reached the end of this mostly flat pathway. Upon emerging from the sheltered forest, giant slabs of slick granite lay ominously against the sky's bright blue backdrop.
We continued our exploration.
First, we noticed the fissures—horizontal narrow fractures in the granite called "joints." These famous sharp cracks separate the granite, granting trekkers a curious view of crevasses that lie hundreds of feet deep in the mile-high granite. Then we noticed something else as we edged closer to the precipice: no guard rails!
|The Fissures at Taft Point.|
Much to my surprise, this point of view of the valley 3,000+ feet below was view-at-your-own-risk. One slip and it would be all over! My tremendous fear of heights kicked in and I prudently peered over the edge, keeping a safe distance.
Taft Point was the only place that provided any means of comfort, and it took every ounce of courage to face my fears and step onto this small viewpoint high on the edge of a granite slab, where a teeny tiny guardrail allows tourists to soak in the stunning views of El Capitan and the valley while snapping a few photos. But believe me when I tell you, I held on to that rail with one hand at all times.
|The edge of the earth.|
The famous fissures.
|Later we continued driving to the end of Glacier Point Road and reveled in the view of Half Dome covered by mammoth thunder clouds.|
At the end of the day I calmed my nerves with one of Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Company's Half Dome wheat beers. Nothing wrong with that.