Backpacker magazine rates the hike to Yosemite's Half Dome as one of the most treacherous in the United States. Dangers along the trail include, apparently, fatigue, dehydration, scorpion stings, rattlesnake bites, mountain lions, bears, hanta virus, plunging to one's death from a great height - be it over waterfall or cliff - forest fires, and believe it or not, the plague.
No locusts though.
As a man more accustomed to the excitement of reading a good history book in bed, I was surprised to find myself, an hour before sunrise, facing the infamous cables that enable the final assault to the Half Dome summit. For those of you yet to do Half Dome, after hiking most of the night, one is greeted by what appears to be an impossibly smooth, impossibly vertical, sheer face of granite scaled by a rickety ladder of cable and wood that promises a 2000-foot sled ride to death should one misstep just once on any of the wobbly rungs.
'No way,' I said. 'Not a chance.' Every nerve in my body told me to turn around and head back down the valley.
Unfortunately, I was with 10 of my closest friends.