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45 by photographer avatarJohn9L
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Half Dome HikeSierra Nevada, CA
Sierra Nevada, CA
Hiking avatar Jun 27 2011
Hiking17.00 Miles 4,800 AEG
Hiking17.00 Miles   6 Hrs   30 Mns   2.62 mph
4,800 ft AEG
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My morning started at 6:45am. I woke at Curry Village and quickly packed up my gear and then checked out. I just barely missed the bus at 7:10 and was disappointed to see the next bus was due in 20 minutes. I paced and paced until the next bus arrived at 7:30. I boarded and we were at Happy Isles in no time. I quickly left the bus and was on my way. I made quick time to the Vernal Falls foot bridge and decided I did not want to get wet on the way in so I took the John Muir trail up. It's a bit longer but you'll keep dry. Before long I was at Nevada Falls and I took a brief moment to enjoy the views.

I continued and kept a strong pace through Little Yosemite Valley and eventually started heading up the switchbacks. I was surprised at how many people I was passing. I guess all the Camelback hiking has paid off! Within no time I was at the Clouds Rest turn off and then a few minutes later the backside of Half Dome came into view. This is what it's all about. I continued on and felt great.

I approached Sub Dome and was curious where the Ranger was that was suppose to check my permit (Yes I had one). To my surprise no Ranger was present. I started up Sub Dome and found my pace dramatically slowed. I think the elevation was starting to take its toll. I slowly worked my way up the stairs and found myself stopping to rest every few minutes. There were only a handful of people in the area. I took my time and eventually the slope leveled off and there were the cables. This is by far my favorite portion of the hike! I came here last Sept and remember what a rush this was. This time I had complete confidence and knew what it would take to summit. A couple of ladies were looking in horror at the cables thinking there is no way. I reassured them this is no big deal. "Take one board at a time and don't look down". I put my gloves on and hit the cables. There was a handful of people present so it was slow going. I sat back and took my time. The thing I really love about the cables is sharing the experience with total strangers. For a brief moment in time it feels like everyone is a team. You have to communicate with each other and especially those coming the opposite direction. About half way up I was able to pass a couple of people in front of me and found my route free and clear. I took my time and worked my way up until the grade leveled off and I found myself on the summit!

Once on the summit I walked to the middle and marveled at the views! There is no place on earth like the summit of Half Dome! I walked around and stopped in the cave from the 1985 Lightning Strike (Shattered Air by Bob Madgic). I took plenty of pics and then decided to head down. I spent roughly 10 minutes on the summit. The climb down the cables was a breeze. I stopped a couple of times to take some pics. Luckily I am not afraid of heights. Before long I found myself at the bottom of the cables. From there I blew down Sub Dome and then down to Little Yosemite Valley.

Right as I reached Little Yosemite Valley, a trail maintenance worker asked me to hold tight because a helicopter was on its way to rescue a sick hiker. It turns the Ranger that was supposed to be checking permits was working the rescue. It took a good 15 minutes for the chopper to arrive but I'm glad I was stopped. It was very cool watching the chopper fly in and then circle and then land. The rescue team took control of the situation and was able to walk the sick hiker to the chopper for the return flight to Yosemite Valley. After it took off, myself and the large crowd that gathered were able to continue.

I hit the top of Nevada Falls and then worked my way down. Before long I was at Vernal Falls and then down the stairs into the mist. The water felt great after the long hike. I passed a ton of people and was back to the trailhead in no time. I luckily just barely made the departing bus and was back at Curry Village in a few minutes. I took a quick shower and then jumped in my car and started driving. It was only 2:30pm at this point. The Half Dome hike took me 6.5 hours. I started the drive back to Phoenix and was able to cruise all the way back! The drive took me 10.5 hours! I briefly stopped once to gas up. This was one hell of a trip and I highly recommend Half Dome and Yosemite to any outdoor enthusiast. Trust me it will be the trip of a lifetime!
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Clouds Rest Half Dome Liberty Cap
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