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:

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So beautiful that this is a cell phone picture. Cell phone, people! Half dome is far left.

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.

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One of my adventure companions all smiles before starting up the stairs

One of my adventure companions all smiles before starting up the stairs

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Top of Vernal Falls looking into the valley

Top of Vernal Falls looking into the valley

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.

Nevada Falls from the Mist Trail

Nevada Falls from the Mist Trail

Next up was the section to Little Yosemite Valley. I found some fellow Terp alums, sang the fight song, and enjoyed the views.

I climbed this!

I climbed this!

This little doe popped out of the woods just feet away from us. We saw tons of wildlife including deer (obviously), birds, and evidence of bears (including one that showed up in our camp later that night).

This little doe popped out of the woods just feet away from us. We saw tons of wildlife including deer (obviously), birds, and evidence of bears (including one that showed up in our camp later that night).

Before hitting Little Half Dome there were some amazing views that were a great inspiration to make it to the summit.

It was such a tease to have hiked 8 or 9 mile at this point and still be so far from the top.

It was such a tease to have hiked 8 or 9 mile at this point and still be so far from the top.

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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.

Half Dome cables

Half Dome cables

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.

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We started at the bottom of that valley!

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Doing a really horrible tree pose which was a combination of doing yoga in hiking boots, fatigue, and doing whatever I could to minimize falling out of the pose. Because in the yoga room when you fall, you get back into the pose. On a mountain, you fall out of a pose and you die.

Doing a really horrible tree pose which was a combination of doing yoga in hiking boots, fatigue, and doing whatever I could to minimize falling out of the pose. Because in the yoga room when you fall, you get back into the pose. On a mountain, you fall out of a pose and you die.

Getting back down we were all smiles on the cables:

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And if possible, the views on the way down were even better than the views on the way up:

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Half dome, Mt. Broderick (?) and Nevada Falls

Half dome, Mt. Broderick, Liberty Cap and Nevada Falls

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).

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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,
Kat

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