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date: 18 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter presents a study of visitor activity in Yosemite National Park, particularly in its most popular hiking experience—the ascent to the top of the legendary Half Dome trail. Approximately 16 miles round-trip and gaining more than 4,800 feet in elevation by its summit, the trail attracts tens of thousands of visitors every year. It serves as an exemplary staging ground for touristic self-testing rites of passage. An analysis of visitor performance on the Half Dome trail evidences how the application of tourism ritual theory, in various manifestations, is both warranted and productive. It also presents a glimpse of some new interpretive terrain into which the trajectory may be leading—into analyses of ontologically relational identities born on the trail in performances of life-threatening landscape encounter. Such identities seep and flow across a spectrum including both socially defined, conventional subjectivities and also emerging presubjective ecologies of sacred semiogenetic performance.

Keywords: Yosemite, tourism, ritual, performance, landscape, space, sacred, ecology, subjectivity

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