The last time my husband and I were in Yosemite National Park, while we were hiking up to the top of Yosemite Falls, we crossed paths with another hiker. Actually, we were leap-frogging, which happens a lot on steep trails: you pass someone, and then when you stop to rest, he passes you, and then when he stops to rest, you pass him again. Anyway, I was a bit concerned about this hiker because it was summer, and it's a long steep trail, and he only had a tiny little bottle of water that was maybe a quarter of the recommended amount of water to carry on that kind of hike. Once when we were resting at the same time, he asked, "Have you been up Half Dome yet?" When I said no, he said, "You should go. It's awesome."
I wasn't particularly interested in going up
there--from what little I knew, it sounded beyond the range of what I
consider fun, and more into the range that sounds like work--but I
didn't know much about it. When this guy who wasn't even carrying enough
water said that he'd done it, I figured: how hard could it be?
Then I saw this,
and I concluded that I'm never going up there unless I turn freaking
crazy. While I have my wits about me, I'll stay on the trails where you
don't need cables, thank you very much.*
But as scary as that
link is, it's fascinating, too. It confirms that climbing Half Dome is
nothing I'd ever want to do in real life. But I love reading about it
from a safe distance.
That's part of the joy of reading: the
ability to experience tough circumstances from a safe and comfortable
vantage point. It's borrowed adventure. I don't believe in reading instead of living, but reading in addition to living provides incredible riches.
I did hike Gothics via the Orebed Brook Trail in the Adirondacks, which
at the time I climbed it had some short sections of cables, in addition
to ladders. But that's about my limit.