Hiking Half Dome
This weekend I hiked 21 miles with an elevation gain of 6,000 feet to summit Half Dome in Yosemite National Park (thanks, new Garmin for fun stats). It was gorgeous and grueling and wonderful:
Hiking half dome requires a permit because it’s an exceedingly popular hike and requires the use of a cable system which shouldn’t be overstressed. Navigating the permit system was an absolute disaster- three very bright people talked to probably 6 employees who all told us different things from each other and the website and we never got a confirmation e-mail that we had won the permit lottery. If only because of the permit fiasco I might only hike half dome once.
We got a later start than we had hoped but were on the trail by about 0630 (I’d want to be on the trail around 0500 if I did it again). We started along the mist trail which was named appropriately for the mist from Vernal Falls. Just imagine lots of wet, slippery, very steep stairs. We were wisely advised to head up on the mist trail but take the John Muir Trail down.
The next section was to Nevada Falls. A theme for this hike began to emerge: climbing. The climbing happened on trails or stone steps, both of which were gnarly and tore up my legs.
Next up was the section to Little Yosemite Valley. I found some fellow Terp alums, sang the fight song, and enjoyed the views.
Before hitting Little Half Dome there were some amazing views that were a great inspiration to make it to the summit.
Next up were more stone stairs until we finally reached the fabled cables. The cables are built into the side of the rock face to help people navigate the 65 degree granite pitch. I brought some gloves, which I would highly recommend (although some people leave gloves at the bottom, I’d bring your own and pack out so as not to add to the waste). It was crowded and slow because of people who were out of shape and/or freaking out, but I used a little psychology (ya know, that degree I have) to help people get going and some of my fitness (presumed, at least) to hang out while that happened. In all, I didn’t think the cables were bad, but minimizing some of the congestion is one reason I’d start earlier next time.
After hours on our feet, miles under our boots, and tons and tons of leg-burning ascent, we finally reached the top and it was super worth it.
Getting back down we were all smiles on the cables:
And if possible, the views on the way down were even better than the views on the way up:
We were pretty wrecked at the end of the day but made some time for the hammock and card games (these pictures are actually from the night before, but hammocks and card games look the same from night to night).
It was such an epic way to spend a weekend with friends. I know that I am biased, but I have no idea why people would rather spend their lives indoors when there is so much beauty outside.
As always, I am thankful for the opportunity to share my pictures and adventures with you.
With sore legs,