Sunday, August 30, 2009

Half Dome Hike

My little family (hubby, daughter and boyfriend, step-daughter), along with our two dogs went up to the very beautiful Yosemite for the weekend. We left Friday morning and camped for two nights. We made reservations for a campsite four months ago. Keith and I decided at that time, we were going to hike Half Dome on this trip. Since that day, we had successfully suckered, I mean talked Loren and Sterling into doing this hike with us. Sara stayed at the campsite with Bella and Boomer.

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!

Vernal Falls

The trail is anything but smooth and flat.

The half-way point

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

And now..............................

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.

Until later.............


Victoria said...

I am totally embarrassed to say that I have been to Yosemite probably more times than I am years old and I have never done this hike! That is one of my most favorite places ever. Yosemite, I mean. I mean, if I ever do Half Dome, I'm sure it will be a favorite place...

Lisa Slow-n-Steady said...

Very cool hike.

I am deathly afraid of heights. I totally relate to the panick/anxiety that you were feeling.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I want to do this hike. It looks super and challenging. Love all your pics but not so much the bear;-)

René said...

That looks like a wonderful hike! I have felt that altitude thing before and it's a real physical symptom, not just in your mind. It takes a bit of time to acclimate. Now I totally want to go there. Thanks!

RunningLaur said...

What a fantastic trip, you're so fortunate to have Yosemite pretty much in your back yard!

Glenn Jones said...

Yes - that is quite a climb to the top. And it's nice to see someone with some common sense - remember - getting to the top is only half the trip. You still need to get down safely.

I'm on my way up to Mt. Whitney this weekend. Like you, I'll make sure I get down safely before I worry about standing on the top....

Looney said...

Great pics! I too hate heights and crowds so have been avoiding half dome.

Lily on the Road said...

My first reaction to your photo ~ sucked the air out of my mouth....

Yikes, you do live in a gorgeous part of the world, and luckily you and your family are experiencing these outings together.

You are much braver than me, I'm not too sure you'd get me up that high!!

Thanks for sharing the wonderful journey and picutres.

Donald said...

I knew that you were planning this trip, but I couldn't remember when. I'll be there in two weeks, so obviously I was very interested to see how you did.

No worries about not getting to the top. I think a lot of people with similar anxieties push themselves to the point where they become a danger to themselves and others - I've heard stories of people "frozen" on the cables for an hour or more while everybody else is waiting on them to keep moving up or down.

And I hope I have the same luck as you with the bear spotting!

sneakersister said...

AWESOME!!!!!! I'm coming out to go hiking with you.

Mel -Tall Mom on the Run said...

HEhehehehe you crack me up...FYI you can WIN the shorts for a running partner, friends, etc...but no worries if you dont want to enter...I am CLOSE 16 comments away.

WOW oh Wow I love all the photos. I would be so excited and scared to see a bear. What an amazing hike!!

Hugs, Mel

And by the way, I do not get offended nor do I think that people are snobs...I have been actively recruiting people by posting the same message at the end of EVERY comment.. Yes I know begging, but oh well, it has been fun.

Marci said...

Wow- that bear picture is awesome!! I think I would have been petrified. Thanks for sharing your pics with us, very beautiful, I'm jealous!

Willie said...

Great pictures and great hike!

Missy said...

What a gorgeous day! I love watching cubs doing bear things, so cute and fun, as long as you don't cross momma.

Stuart said...

Awesome job even if you didn't you an out to return!

That's one fancy John!

Maryland Girl aka Michelle said...

Sounds totally excellent!

Running, kind of. said...

holy PINE CONE!!! And a BEAR!! found your blog through Mel over at Tall Mom on the Run, and i would say I would have run a 6:52 mile to get away from the bear!!!

Can't wait to read more!!