Half Dome

Final Stats:

15 miles, 5400 ft

A bit airy up there…

GPS track here

KML Google Earth file

Half Dome at EveryTrail

Pssst. I found a really nice hike in a really cool park. I’ll tell you about it but you gotta keep it a secret.

There’s this place called “Yosemite” or something. Never heard of it before, nor had the inclination to go there. But I happened to accidentally make it there last weekend with my girlfriend. You know, sort of like an NHPS’er accidentally summiting a peak :P

Well at this little known park, there’s a peak that you probably have never heard of, and wouldn’t if I wasn’t going to tell you. It’s called ‘Half Dome’. There are a few ways to get to the base of Half Dome, but unless you are a hardcore rock climber, you have to ascend via some ‘cables’ that someone happened to leave around. Even though we never heard of anyone doing this we thought it would be fun to try!

We started off in Yosemite Valley, parked at the trailhead at 6am. To our surprise the lot had other cars. In fact it was almost full. Who would have thunk?

We started to hike. The beginning follows a paved, but steep path. Similar to the beginning of Angel’s Landing in Zion, another not well known park. We would conjecture that it was steep in the beginning to scare people off from doing the whole thing, but it’s not like this is the sort of hike that tons of inexperienced people would try!

Anyways, we took the Mist trail, which stays near the river. There are two falls we pass, the first was Vernal. Around Vernal falls you are basically hiking up a lot of rock steps instead of steady path. If this trail was used by a lot of people, this would be a bottleneck.

We continued on and up, getting up to Nevada Falls.

Past this, we hit a juncture with the John Muir trail (which had split up near the beginning). At this point we were getting out of the canyon into Little Yosemite Valley, where you start getting views of this “Half Dome” rock.

In this area, it’s really nice. Lots of big trees.

After splitting off with the trail going to Cloud’s Rest, we started veering west toward Half Dome. Eventually we got onto the ridge leading to the base of the rock. This part might be more strenuous than the actual cables; there are a mix of steps and just steep rock to hike up with no breaks.

Finally, we were at the base. Up to this point we had passed up a whole bunch of people. Must have been some special holiday to have so many people on such an obscure hike!

Now at the bottom, there was a whole bunch of gloves laying around. Kind of weird, makes it seem like a lot of people climb this.

Rachel picked up a pair, while of course I stubbornly refused to use any. And so we began climbing.

Rachel did great, but the cables were literally shoulder-high for her, giving an even more strenuous workout that I had. Definitely required a lot of upper back muscle use. There are a few difficulties with the cables. 1) The rock is somewhat slick, like it has been used a lot, odd. 2) Navigating around other people. Like 80% of the people refust to let go of one of the two cables. They don’t want to move unless they are holding both. You can imagine the face off that occurs between two people who are going in opposite directions but refuse to move their arms!

Otherwise, the cables are quite enjoyable. The wood planks every 10 ft or so gives you a nice chance to relax and enjoy the views.

Of course it would have been nice to add to the NHPS list, but I figured it wouldn’t be good for my health to try to ‘go around’ the peak.

I also recorded some videos which may or may not include annoying lack of camera steadiness.

Of course the classic photo op. Um that was a scary drop I will tell you.

There were also a few big-boned marmots hanging out.

And then it was back down. Here not having gloves was a bit more annoying but still okay. Of course its better to use them.

Emerald Pool

Very nice hike! Just keep it on the down-low. Start early. Relax more on the downhill to beat the crowd (if word gets out).


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This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 14th, 2009 at 2:30 pm and is filed under Trip Report. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “Half Dome”

Dave N.

Dave N. September 13th, 2009 at 3:11 pm

first climbed in 1961 w/Navy Band buddie Mike B. No one there then! Back on it in ’62w/brother Don. also vacant. No trash. No bears. No problems. Back in ’69 and ’99. Big changes. My heart is with you all!

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