Thursday, October 8, 2015

Conquering the Half Dome

A Bit of a Confession: 
I have a list of national parks that I want to experience in my lifetime and Yosemite is at the tippy top of that list. We were definitely upset that we couldn't fit Yosemite National Park into last years California trip, so it was the center of this years' adventure. And the only way to do Yosemite right is to challenge the Half Dome Hike, which just happens to be one the most dangerous hikes in America.
The day of our Half Dome Hike, my alarm went off at 5AM and I was miserable...not because of the early wake-up time, but because I was sick. My nose was stuffy, my throat sore, and my head pounding. I wanted nothing more than to go back to bed. But the Half Dome hike operates on a lottery system. If you are fortunate enough to win a ticket and you've traveled across the country for it, then you do it. 
Of course, I later found that I had strep throat accompanied by a crippling fever and I probably shouldn't have pushed myself, but it was so very worth it. 
Just look at this view! 
The Half Dome hike is several miles up a mountain with several smaller hikes making up one long trail... 
Mist Trail>>>Veranda Falls>>>Little Yosemite Valley>>>Subdome and finally to The Cables

The Mist Trail
The first part of the Half Dome hike is the most beautiful and also,
 one of the most challenging parts. It's only a couple of miles, but those are straight up the mountain. In the dark, we started ascending the stairs that had been crudely blasted out of the mountain.
So many STAIRS

As much as we were already exhausted and doubting ourselves, I was soaking up every minute because H-E-L-L-O, we were hiking alongside a waterfall at sunrise.  
water cascading down the mountainside with
the sun just beginning to kiss the tree tops as it rises
AND sharing all of this with my Husband
it doesn't get any better than this

Veranda Falls

Our ascension continued upwards through Nevada Falls, which is not an easy trek. Let's just say, thank goodness for those beautiful views to keep us going...

Yosemite Valley
The valley was the only flat part of our journey and we were more than thankful for it

The SubDome
After several hours of hiking, a few liters of water, and not enough Cliff bars, we finally reached the subdome. The Subdome is two excruciating miles of nothing but rocks and the beating sun as you climb upwards. 
Don't let my smile fool you, the subdome is the hardest part of this hike. At some points, the stairs of the Subdome disappear altogether and you literally have to scale the mountain top, holding on for dear life.
this is the part where so many give up and turn back. We saw people having panic attacks, crying from exhaustion, and someone even fainted from dehydration. The SubDome is no joke! I felt like giving up here too because I was so tired and everything ached and I was sick and I just had so many more excuses. I had to remind myself over and over again that I could do this but it was
definitely one of the hardest things that I've ever done in my life: both mental and physical

The Cables
The very last part of the hike is climbing the last 400ft to the top of the dome. Sounds simple enough? 
The Catch: this part is pretty much a straight vertical. 
You can just make out the people climbing the steel cables up the dome
While I'm not afraid of heights (anymore), I do have a healthy appreciation for my life, but surprisingly, the cables were my favorite part! You use your own strength to hoist yourself up the slippery vertical granite again and again, making your way to the top.
You aren't connected to anything and there is no safety net. it's all about you and the mountain. your strength and perseverance is what will keep you alive and get you to the top...that's what I loved about hiking the Half DomeWell that and the amazing views!
Insert a ridiculous amount of photos from the mountaintop
We could have stayed up there all day, but knew it would take us several hours to make it back to camp. Can I just say that descending the cables was much worse than going up. It was less physical, but required doing the one thing that you didn't want to have to look down
I think these guys had the right idea taking a nap after the Half Dome. 
it was exhausting, but we still had too far to go before resting
We started our hike in the dark and ended in dark...hiking from 6AM to 9PM
the feeling of accomplishment we felt when we finally made it back to camp was one of the best days of my life. 
knowing that we had pushed ourselves to our mental and physical limits and overcome those, 
well this is the whole reason for hiking the Half Dome
18 miles//29km
15 hours 
6L of water 
to conquer the Half Dome 

1 comment:

  1. oh man! i can't believe you did this feeling sick. though.. i probably would have done the same. those permits are hard to come by!