I had to sit there for five minutes which crowded the metal cables and I was in pain.
"Can I really do this? Should I turn back?", I thought to myself.
Suddenly a voice came from within, "Are you kidding me? You are almost there. You will regret it so much if you turn back now and you know how much you hate regret."
I sat there, sipping on my electrolyte drink and chewing on the Cliff Bar. Eventually, the cramps went away at least for the time being. I got up and started to make my way to the top one step at a time. It's always one step at a time.
Eventually, I did manage to reach the top of Half dome which was a large and flat area. The feeling of self-satisfaction after getting there, the panoramic views of the valley and the high Sierras made the wildfire, cramps, and the struggle to get there worth it. If I had to do it again knowing what all I have to go through to get here, I would still do it in a heartbeat.
Getting back down
Although getting down is not good for the knees but was still significantly easier than the hike up. Once at the top of Nevada falls, there were two routes : continue on the Mist trail (the same trail I used to come up) or the Muir trail which was 1.5 miles longer but less steep and provides a different but a spectacular view of the Nevada Falls, Half Dome and the valley. Taking the Muir trail and before I knew it, I was on the valley floor, taking a shuttle to the village and treating myself with beer and hot burgers.
2. Upper Yosemite Falls
Yosemite falls is one of the major attractions and it takes a short hike to get to the base of the falls which falls more than 2,400 feet.
Also, hiking to the top of these falls is another adventure in itself. It is a demanding 5.8 mile long (to and fro) hike and with endless stair climbing and it will surely test your fitness. But once you get to the top, you will be standing above the tallest waterfall in North America with views of the falls, snow-capped mountains, half dome on the left and Yosemite valley before you.
3. Tunnel Viewpoint
I have spent hours if not days sitting at the Tunnel viewpoint looking at the breathtaking glacier-carved valley with magical waterfalls falling from the soaring granite cliffs.
On the left, there is the 3000 ft majestic El Capitan and on the right, there is silky Bridalveil Falls falling onto the green-carpeted valley. At the far end is another Yosemite National Park's major attraction, Half Dome. It is views like these which makes me wonder whether humans can ever match with nature's creations.
4. Glacier Point
I am going to vote to make driving up to the Glacier Point illegal because views as spectacular as Glacier point deserves a struggle from us to get there. Until it becomes illegal, Glacier point cannot be missed if you go there in Summer (the road is closed in Winters). It is by far one of the best views at Yosemite National Park with Yosemite Falls (the tallest waterfall in North America), Vernal and Nevada Falls, iconic Half Dome, Yosemite Valley, unreal snow-capped granite cliffs and the Sierra mountains as far as the eyes could see.
There is also a 4 mile trail which begins near the base of Sentinel Rock to hike to the Glacier Point. Glacier Point has parking, restrooms and a snack stand.
There is so much to explore in this natural wonder. Indeed, one lifetime is not enough but we might as well try our best.