Yosemite National Park - Half Dome Day Hike (U.S. National Park Service)
This is a 16 mile hike round trip with over 5,000 feet of elevation gain. It can take up to and over 12 hours to complete. Our plan was to get up at 4:30 a.m. and get to the trail head shortly after 5:00 a.m. Well, our alarm didn't go off. Keith woke me up to ask what time it was. It was 5:50 a.m. UGH! Not a good start. We woke up the kids and made it to the trail head at 7:00 a.m. Here we are at the trail head:
Sterling, Me, Keith, Loren
The one and only flush toilet available and it's right about one mile from the start.
There's where we're heading!
The trail is anything but smooth and flat.
The half-way point
Merced River in Little Yosemite Valley
After this picture was taken, Sterling and I took off ahead of Keith and Loren. It seems Sterling and I were more comfortable going at a faster pace. We stopped here and ate our sandwiches we had packed for ourselves.
When we saw we only had two more miles to go, we got very excited. It was hard to believe we were going to do it! We were going to make it to the top of Half Dome today. We had a new found spring in our step. We were charging full speed ahead. We were even passing people that had started at 3:00 and 4:00 a.m. We were on fire!
Then came this:
It's very hard to explain with words. It's a portion of very steep granite that goes straight up about 400 feet or so (guessing). It's a bunch of switchbacks with steps and the path is about two feet wide, at the most. Here's another shot of it, looking down. Way down!
I looked up. I looked down. I'm very afraid of heights. We were at 8,000 feet elevation. I was beginning to feel light headed. Then I was afraid I would pass out, due to lack of oxygen from being at 8,000 feet. And then if I pass out, I'm going to fall very far. This, of course, sent me into a fit of anxiety. (Sometimes I really don't like my head.) I sat down. I leaned toward the inside as much as I could. I looked up and saw Sterling doing the same thing. Uh oh. Now what? We looked at each other and started laughing a little bit. He said what I was thinking. "We don't have to go up, if you don't want to." I asked him if he wanted to go back down and he just nodded, "yes." We stood up and slowly walked down the steps to "safety". Phew!
We headed back down, laughing about our anxiety attacks. Neither of us were sorry we didn't make it all the way to the top. There's always another time.
A little while later we saw Keith and Loren coming toward us. They stopped and ate their sandwiches and decided they were not going to go up any further. At this point, we all headed down together.
A pine cone bigger than Mount Diablo's?
Merced River in Little Yosemite Valley
On top of Nevada Falls
The best picture ever:
Yup, Sterling and I saw a bear! Actually, we saw THREE bears. Two large ones and a little cub. Oh, the cub was so damn cute. He was hopping through the trees, being silly. That was so great to see. Poor Keith though, once again we are in Yosemite and he didn't get to see a bear.
As we expected, the hike was absolutely gorgeous. I want to do it again, now that I have seen what the approach to the top looks like. It was a lot hotter than any of us anticipated. Even though we each carried 70 oz. of water on our back with two extra 16 oz. bottles, we all pretty much ran out of water. Thank God for a guy named Mark that was filtering water out of the river above Nevada Falls. He filled water bottles for each of us, without hesitating. Sterling and I ran the last few miles down. It was pretty tough because of the trail being filled with rocks of all shapes and sizes, and steps as well. My knee did not hurt one tiny bit and still doesn't hurt today.
We got back to the campsite at 4:30. We had a dinner planned, that we were going to prepare. We chucked the plan and Sara drove over to Curry Village and picked up two large pizzas. After that, Keith and I rode our bikes there and ate a double scoop ice cream cone. We all slept quite well last night.