Friday I talked with a couple on their way in the morning to Happy Isles and a trek to Half Dome. At first I thought they were maybe not familiar with the hike's requirements, I assume everyone who hasn't done it doesn't know the importance of water food good shoes flashlight warm clothing and being in physical shape to do it. The last tends to sort itself out as anyone who can make the eight mile up hike to the top of the switchbacks probably has it in them to make the cables. I learned the couple had been up and down nearly all the mountains in Scotland, but the last question they asked me was "Is it dangerous?" And I said with a smile and shake of the head, "Not really."
Well, it is, as your safety depends entirely throughout the hike, and certainly on the cable climb, on your own strength and good sense. There's no safety "thing" on the cables, or as one of my friends says, "It's not a amusement ride." There's no bar that's going to hold you in like on a rollercoaster.
People for a long time have been going up the cables without misshap by the thousands for years, well, actually the SF Chronicle today says that, or that they have been minimal, until this year when three have fallen, the last just this last Saturday (a grim day as a brown bear killed a kid in Idaho...first time that has happened there.)
So the park service is rethinking the cables safety. Safety in the park comes under the rubric of "wilderness". In other words, you are on your own.
Is hiking and climbing and swimming and all the rest dangerous?? Not really.
Other people falling does give one pause when starting out, but on Memorial Day, the day of the pic, I cant remember giving it much thought once I got going.
Once on the cables, however, just dont look down, you'll hold up the line!
Tree in the Door
June 19, 2007