Four years ago I visited Yosemite National Park on a road trip. I had no idea what to expect and was completely blown away by the immensity and beauty of Yosemite. John Muir had it right in preserving this masterpiece. While there, I heard about the Half Dome hike. I wanted to do it…except that it was 16 miles AND you needed a permit that you can only obtain through a “lottery”.
Last spring several of my adventure friends applied for hike permits (for sub dome and the cable climb). Of the 6 of us that applied, only one WON permits. Hike date: July 16. Let the training and travel plans begin! Training hikes included Mt. Wilson, Cucamonga Peak, and Mt. Baldy for the SoCal hikers in our group. For me, living in Colorado, hikes included the Via Ferrata in Telluride, Lost Lake and King Lake, Bergan Peak, and Hope Pass.
Half Dome hike is an all day adventure. Headlamps on, we started before 5am. Taking the Mist trail up past Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall for over 7 miles and a big elevation gain! The real fun started when we arrived at the “sub dome.” A granite staircase…400 vertical feet. There is no railing. It’s steep and intimidating. At one point, there were no stairs, just a super steep smooth rock face. I found my hiking boots had little tread and was quickly losing confidence. I was ready to turn around. But my friends wouldn’t let me and BreAnn, the one who encouraged all of us throughout this crazy hike, literally pushed me up this section.
One last feat…the cables. I had every intention of climbing all the way up. It was just another 400 feet. I made it about a quarter of the way up and as the steepness increased my feet began to slip and slide more. My hiking boots have covered a lot of miles and weren’t gripping. I was using all upper body strength. I’m strong, but without the help of solid footing, I no longer felt safe. The line was forming behind me and I made the decision to turn back. I was actually okay with it. My friends continued on all the way up. Some were completely confident and others faced their fears and continued to put one foot in front of the other…with strong tread of course!
Distance: 18 miles including the mile to and from the trailhead
Elevation gain: 4,800 feet ? (4,000 to 8,800…more gain than a 14er!)
Time on trail: 14.5 hours (we took lots of breaks, including soaking our sore, tired feet in the Merced River)