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Yosemite - Tenaya Lake to Happy Isle, CA
mini location map2014-06-11
36 by photographer avatarJohn9L
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Yosemite - Tenaya Lake to Happy Isle, CA 
Yosemite - Tenaya Lake to Happy Isle, CA
Backpack avatar Jun 11 2014
Backpack25.00 Miles 5,600 AEG
Backpack25.00 Miles3 Days         
5,600 ft AEG
1st trip
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After a very long commute the six of us started hiking the Clouds Rest Trail around mid-afternoon. The going was very easy with the solid hill climb roughly a mile in. After that the trail levels off and we made our way to our preplanned campsite roughly a mile below Clouds Rest. We arrived at camp and found the mosquitos to be extremely annoying. We got settled as we set up camp and then started a fire. The mosquitoes tapered off soon after. The temps got chilly that night but were tolerable.

We woke on day two and took our time in camp. We eventually headed out and made our way to the summit of Clouds Rest. I agree with Chumley it’s one of the best views in Yosemite! We spent a solid hour up there admiring the sights and eating some lunch. From there we followed the trail down the west side of Clouds Rest. Along the way we detoured over to Quarter Domes which had more amazing views! After that we hiked down to Sunrise Creek and set up our second night’s camp. The plan was to wake early and head for Half Dome under the full moon.

I got to sleep around 10pm and had a hard time falling asleep. I eventually fell asleep and then heard the group starting to stir around 3am. I’ll be honest I did not want to get out of bed. I was warm and comfy and wanted sleep. Chumley unsuccessfully tried to get me out of bed. After a few minutes Liz came over and talked about regretting this opportunity. I knew she was right and I got up soon after. The group then headed out and I was a few minutes behind. The time was roughly 3:15am. I’ve never hiked this early in the morning. The going was slow at first as I slowly woke up. As I hiked I felt the adrenaline start to kick in and my pace sped up. I reached the group and continued on up toward Half Dome. It was very cold out but I was soaking wet with sweat. I had to stop at one point to remove my Smartwool base layer. I continued up and had to use my headlamp because the trail winds through the trees. The moonlight wasn’t much help. I eventually hit Subdome and took my time hiking up. This was my third time on Half Dome and I knew exactly what to expect.

I found myself at the base of the cables around 4:25am. I thought I should be in bed! Anyways I originally planned on waiting for the others. I looked back and no one was to be found. I started to get cold standing still and more adrenaline kicked in so I started climbing the cables. I had to use my headlamp because the moon was out of sight on the west side of Half Dome. I took my time as I climbed from plank to plank and took numerous short breaks. I would look back during these breaks to see a truly magnificent sight behind me. Clouds Rest and eastern Yosemite was lit up with moonlight. And then there were roughly a dozen headlamps making their way towards Half Dome. It was a magnificent sight that I will never forget!

After about 15 minutes of climbing I reached the summit and found I was the only one up there. It was a little tough to enjoy because it’s 4:40 in the morning and its windy & freezing cold. I had a short walk around and waited for the others to join me. I took a few pics but they didn’t come out too well. After that Larry and Kyle summited and then Liz & Chumley followed soon after. The sky slowly lit up as the sun started to rise. After roughly an hour Kyle, Liz and I started the climb down the cables. By this time it was light out and people were making their way up. We took our time as we went down and all of us were glad to be back on Subdome. From there the three of us hiked back down to Sunrise Creek and went back to sleep. This was a hell of an experience and I’m grateful to Liz for motivating me to get out of bed! Thanks Liz!

After a very slow morning our group started the hike to the valley floor via the Mist Trail. We took a break near the top of Nevada Falls and then fought our way down to the Happy Isles Trailhead. There were lots of people out as it was mid-afternoon. Once back in the valley we went over to Curry Village where we met Claire near the bus stop. We all regrouped for pizza and a much needed shower. Our first trip was over. The plan was to spend the night in the Backpackers Campground and then head to the Ten Lakes Basin the next day.
Snow Plant
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Clouds Rest Half Dome
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