Imagine taking a day hike in Yosemite when a huge fire explodes behind you, blocking your way down the mountain. That happened to Rachael Kirk who took the photo above. 100 people had to be evacuated from the valley Sunday, and 80 to 85 were removed by helicopter from the top of 5,000-foot Half Dome.
But Rachael and her friends were not experienced climbers and were told by rescuers that they had to reach the summit because that was only place a helicopter could land safely.
Kirk, who was hiking to Half Dome for the first time, said she didn’t want to climb a board-and-cable stairway up the rock face to reach the top, but a park employee insisted.
“He said there was no way to land the helicopter except on top of Half Dome,” Kirk said. “That was the moment everyone felt scared.”
“One woman freaked out,” she said. “They gave her a makeshift harness and helped her out on the cable.”