I just want to agree that the book "Shattered Air", is very well written and quite informative. The realization that I have now is that lightning is a much greater threat to all of us, especially those of us that spend as much time as possible outside, than I previously thought.
Having to make a decision about how to handle that threat, a situation which started this thread, is something we should all be prepared to do.
Electricity or electrons will surge through the past of least resistance. They will also follow other paths with more resistance but in fewer numbers. The lower the resistance, the more current flow (more electrons flowing).
A lightning strike from above will follow the path of least resistance to the Earth (ground). Wearing rubber shoes only increases your resistance to earth ground, it doesn't eliminate it.
I'd imagine that trees are struck so often because they are literally rooted into earth ground even though they're not a great conductor. Their height plays a part but it probably has more to due with a good ground connection.
Due to humans being a better conductor than trees, shoes or insulation from earth ground is pretty key to not becoming a human resistor. If you stood next to a tall tree but were barefoot, I'd bet the lightning would choose your signal path over the trees.
This is what leads me to belive that our chemistry is what attracts the flow of electricty. It has to because electrical signals need to constanlty flow between our brain and neural network. Electrolytes and salinity in our bodies provide the signal path for these essential signals.
It's still good to insulate yourself from earth ground in a storm because the better the insulation, the less current flow through your body. The difference between getting badly shocked and getting fried like a bug in one of those bug zappers.
Carrying around a rack full of metal doesn't help either.
I think the path lighting takes isn't so much the path of least resistance, rather it is the path of highest potential between the clouds and the ground. If it were merely the path of least resistance it would be a simple simple shortest straight shot between the cloud to the ground, but we all know lighting strikes aren't nearly so orderly.
that photo is awesome and amazing for a few reasons. one of which is that it looks like the strike is happening not at the top, or at the cables. its striking near the very spot we were hanging out for 45 minutes a few hundred feet above the top of snake dike trying to decide to go down or not... next time ill go faster!!!!
I found it on google Earth, some amazing shots around Yosemite.
Here's another photoshop version
However I just read a story about a lightning strike in British Columbia Magazine about Bugaboo Spire in the 1950s or so. Chris you did the right thing getting out of there. Same thing was happening to them, energy all around. Then BAM!. Two dead. Epic retreat etc. The energy travels along the surface of the rock not into the mountain.