Day Hike to Summit Half Dome February 25, 2008Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Adventure Recreation.
Tags: adventure, day hike, Glacier Point, Half Dome, Yosemite
Last June I got to do something I have wanted to do most of my life, Summit the infamous Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. The thing that makes it even more memorable (if that is possible) for me is that I got to share the experience with my 18 year old son.
This is not a day hike for the out of shape or inexperienced hiker, let me tell you! The total distance is almost 16 miles with 8000′ of elevation change. We started out at the trail head early in the morning and climbed up and around Vernal Falls, then crossed the river at the top of Nevada Falls. From there it was about another 4 miles to the base of the granite dome. The way to the summit from there is by actually walking right up 400′ of the dome with the assistance of a set of double cables that you hold onto with both hands and walk between them. Many, many people hike all the way up to the cables only let fear (or maybe common sense) take over and they won’t go up the cables. I have to admit it can be a little scary at times, but oh my, is it ever worth it.
We spent some time at the top looking across at Glacier Point, Yosemite Falls, and down, way down, into the Yosemite Valley. It is hard to explain the rush I get from sharing awesome moments like this with my son. Memorable just doesn’t do it justice.
The trip back down the cables can be harrowing, as there are people coming up at the same time, and you have to find a way to safely pass one another without losing your grip on the cables. After reaching the trail again, it should be an easy 7 miles or so back to the trail head right? Wrong. When you have old and beat up knees like mine, going down steep trails is torture. When we got near Nevada Falls again, we took the trail that goes down next to the falls on the east side of them, then winds along and crossed the river just above Vernal Falls again. From here, there are about a gazillion stone steps that take you down right next to the falls. The swirling wind blows the fine mist into a shower for all the hikers, this is a welcome feeling on a hot afternoon!
We made it to the trail head again 8 hours after we started out. That included several stops to rest and refuel, and about 45 minutes at the summit, just enjoying our accomplishment and each other’s company.
That, was a great day.