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mini location map2010-09-30
40 by photographer avatarJohn9L
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Half Dome HikeSierra Nevada, CA
Sierra Nevada, CA
Hiking avatar Sep 30 2010
John9L
Hiking17.00 Miles 4,800 AEG
Hiking17.00 Miles   8 Hrs      2.13 mph
4,800 ft AEG
 
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I need to start by saying Half Dome has been an 18 month goal of mine. This goal brewed into an obsession! Over that time I learned everything I could about Half Dome and Yosemite. I also made three trips to the park. The final trip resulted in reaching the summit. For any outdoor lover who has never been...GO TO YOSEMITE!!!

Okay, so we left Phx on Wed, Sept 29. On the ride up we blew out a tire on the I-5 south of Bakersfield. We spent 3+ hours getting some tires changed and finally reached Curry village around 10pm. It was 15 hours of travel time. We unloaded our gear and I took some Nyquil in hopes of sleep.

I woke up Thursday morning a little blah feeling but knew it would pass. I boarded the bus around 8am and hit the Happy Isles trailhead at 8:10. I quickly departed up the trail. The Mist Trail had only a handful of people present. I crossed the bridge and then proceded up Vernal Falls. The water was barely flowing. I arrived at the top and took a few pics and continued. Next up was Nevada and I made quick work of the switchbacks. I arrived up top and took a quick break. Pics would come later!

The trail above Nevada Falls is flat for the next mile and takes you along Little Yosemite Valley. From there you head into the forest and its a steady hike upwards. I found myself getting stronger as I went. It felt like I needed to rest but every time I stopped I found myself anxious to get moving. I continued! I came to the Clouds Rest turn off and made a mental note for a future return. I continued up.

Eventually you feel the trail turning towards the west. I could feel myself getting closer. I knew the summit would come into view any second. At first it appeared through the trees. It was still out of site. I kept hiking and soon see a break in the trees. I worked my way to the view and then stood back in awe! The summit looks impossible to attain. I hiked 6+ miles at this point and thought NO WAY! This can't be possible to summit! I continued.

I quickly reached sub dome and planned on resting but I kept going! I kept my head down and took one step at a time. I foud myself passing people...all that training on Camelback is paying off! Eventually the steps end and you continue right up the slick rock. Many people were working in a side to side progression kind of like switchbacks. I followed another guy straight up! I was at the top of Sub dome in no time and took a minute to admire Half Dome. It was a site to behold! There was a small crowd at the base and roughly a dozen people on the cables. I passed a bunch of people and knew it would get more crowded as the afternoon sets in. It was roughly noon, I started around 8am. I planned on being off by 2pm. I'm ahead of schedule.

I stared up the cables and found myself thinking pics don't do this justice! I pretty much hiked 8 miles at this point and really moved to this point. I was winded and was considering resting a bit. Then the bottom of the cables cleared and I felt the adrenaline kick in! I stowed my camera and put my gloves on. I hit the cables behind three guys and slowly started climbing. A small group fell in behind me. We moved at a slow pace and it was fine with me. We basically worked board to board and everyone was communicating. The people coming down talked to us going up to figure out who should go. I talked to the person behind me to make sure they had good footing. I was hiking solo and found this mini subgroup...it was a great feeling I shared with total strangers.

Next thing you know the cables end and I found myself on the summit! I decided to have a look around. I basically walked end to end and took a variety of pics. The main area I wanted to see was the small cave. This was the spot where five hikers were hit by lightning back in 1985 (Shattered Air by Bob Madgic). The cave was a little tricky to get inside...very close to the edge. It was smaller then I thought and felt erie inside. I climbed out. I planned on eating lunch but some clouds off in the distance made me a little uncomfortable. I decided to head down before any rain started.

The trip down the cables was much quicker. I tried both fowards and backwards for descending. Going backwards I felt a lot more stable. As I neared the bottom I turned around and went forward. Again the communication with everyone was excellent. I reached the bottom of the cables and took a moment. A lot went into this adventure...felt great to be alive!

I planned on breaking for lunch but started talking to a couple from San Fran and found us flying down and loving the trail. We both shared our experiences and had a wonderful conversation. We split at the top of Nevada Falls. I headed down the John Muir trail where I was able to meet Cheryl and Kate (GF & her Sister) who were horseback riding. It was a nice surprise for them. We chatted about the hike and I then continued down. Around 3pm some rain started falling. I was glad I was not on top of Half Dome. Before long I found myself at the Vernal Falls bridge and pavement. I cruised back to the trailhead and caught the bus back to Curry Village. The hike was over but I felt a new beginning...What obsession is next???
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