The Half Dome TrekSeptember 17 in the United States
Wow. What a hike. I will remember this trek for the rest of my life.
We start the day by getting up around 5:30am. It's still dark out but the stars are starting to fade. We have breakfast and pack our stuff as we know we have a big day ahead of us. It is an estimated 24km hike. I hesitate about how much water to bring, it is suggested to bring at least three liters for our trek. I fill my Camelback all the way to the top and we head off.
I also make sure that I bring my kit for blisters; my boots are fairly new and I am worried that my feet will be a mess by the end of the day. Thankfully they survived ;)
The beginning of the trek is very steep but surprisingly it is all paved. We head up about 3km on this climb until we see the first set of falls called Vernal falls. We continue for another 2km to reach the Nevada falls. This is where a kid wanted to take a selfie and died from a fall trying to take his selfie with the top of the falls.
After these falls we have quite a hike to bring us to the half dome. Lots of stairs made from the rocks and loose rocks to climb. Once near half dome the climb is mostly on mountain bedrock. I'm am so glad we wore boots and brought our walking polls; at first I was hesitant as not many others had polls and almost everyone is wearing shoes. With all the rocks everywhere it must be hard on the feet for anyone in sneakers. I must remember not to always follow what others are doing and go with my gut.
We start to get hungry for lunch but we told ourselves we would wait to get to the top. Speaking of hungry, we are lucky to see a bobcat with his fresh caught squirrel in his mouth. I always find it interesting that these cat have such a small tail. Getting closer to the half dome we are quite surprised. In my mind I understood that we had a permit for cable cars. We have done these in the past where you get into a "basket" and pull yourself to the other side. I must have misunderstood as there are no cable cars. We see people climbing the dome with a very steep incline by using 2 cables. I start to worry about how we will make it up the dome.
Once we arrive at the dome we see more clearly how this will work. First everyone is wearing gloves... Shit I did not know we needed gloves for this. The bedrock is at a 75 degree angle. It's like going up a ladder and having to use 2 cables instead of steps walking directly on the bedrock. I am a bit worried because if you make a mistake you're dead. We need to go up this thing for about 150m. Thankfully as we get closer to the cables we see that there are gloves for everyone to use. We pick a pair and start the climb. After 20m we see stuff falling from others people's bags. I look at the falling object and think "shit, this could be me if I am not careful". The other challenge going up this thing is that people are also coming back down... We have to dance around each other while not trying to die. I was stressed. We are about 50 to 100 people going up and down. If one of us makes a mistake and starts falling it could be a disaster. Plus some people are super scared and stop all the time. When someone stops it makes everyone else have to stop. Thankfully we find a way to pass some folks as I do not want to stay hanging on the cables any longer than needed.
We obviously make it safely up as I am writing this post. Once at the top, we find a spot and enjoy our well deserved lunch. After lunch we take a couple photos. Mom do not look at the pictures on the top. Our next challenge is going back down using those cables. It is quite the adventure. I decided to go down looking face first. Some decide to go down backwards but for some odd reason I felt better face first. Again we must perform the dance with people going up. I am sooooo glad I don't have to do that again. You get quite the adrenaline rush but I was still very scared to end my adventure going up that dome. I will resist the urge to go lookup any stats on deaths at this spot.
Once back down the dome we start the return trek. My feet are already hurting but I do not seem to have any blisters. The return is usually tough for me. I enjoy going up mountains but am less enthusiastic about heading down. At the 3/4 mark I notice that I do not recognize this bridge that we just crossed. We look at the map and realize that we took a wrong turn. The trail we are on does head back down but is a longer walk. I blame this error on Ben as I am pretty sure he was in the front at that time but I am no better as I noticed to late. No harm done we just need to hold on until the bottom. The last part of the trek is hard on us as both our knees and feet are killing us. I can't wait to take these boots off and let my feet take a well deserved breath of fresh air.
Once arrived at camp we take the boots off. "Oh my god", that feels better. We stop to tracker on our phones and confirm that we almost did 25km. Tomorrow we had plans for another big trek. I think we will revisit that plan and do something shorter.
That's all for the day, supper, wine and bedtime are on the menu for the evening.Read more