they weren't kidding when they said Half Dome is the most extreme hike!!
Yosemite National Park Travel Blog› entry 4 of 4 › view all entries
So my friends had decided to take a camping trip to Yosemite for labor day weekend. I decided 2 weeks before the trip that I was going to tag along. But of course, boys being boys, they were playing the campground by ear and was hoping that they would be able to find a spot on Saturday morning.
After much research, I decided I wanted to camp at Bridalveil Creek since they had flushing toilets and wasn't too far from Yosemite Valley since it was located on Glacier Point. The only other campsite that offered flushing toilets was at Wolf Creek, which just didn't seem as appealing.
Being the determined person that I am, I was ADAMANT about camping at Bridalveil so I made sure to arrive EARLY on friday mornig of labor day weekend in hopes of grabbing a campsite.
I was pleased and satisfied that I was able to snag a spot - even though the temperature dropped between 30s to low 40s in the evening. (It was much warmer in the valley!) We were able to check out Glacier Point which had a breathtaking view of Yosemite and we got to see where we were going to be hiking at the next day (From Vernal Falls to Nevada Falls to Half Dome).
The hike to Half Dome was rather interesting. It was a 17 mile hike round trip. I had read that it is an EXTREME hike and not for the faint of heart, out of shape, or weak. I wasn't faint of heart, but I was most definitely OUT OF SHAPE!! But I am an extremist and figured it couldn't be that bad.
So we got up super early - around 4:45 AM to prepare for the hike. It was estimated that it would take about 12 hours to do the whole hike. The advantage was that we would get to see the falls on our way to half dome. We decided to take the short cut (which was a bit more difficult) instead of the John Muir Trail. I had to climb over rocks and stairs (the steps were definitely not meant for people under 5' ft to easily step over).
By the time we got t Half Dome, I had already started to feel the aches in my thighs, ankles, legs, feet... I made it to the base of HAlf Dome (where the cables were) and the view is definitely something that can't be put in writing!! Once reaching the base of HAlf Dome (Which involved more steps on the cliff and then finding your footing alongside of the mountain) I knew that I couldn't make it up to the top.
I actually felt like a cat stuck up in a tree. I was terrifed of trying to make my way down! One false step, one unsteady step on loose dirt and gravel, and I knew I would go careening off the side of the cliff without a prayer!! From the Dome, there were no steps so you had to rely on your supposedly sturdy shoes with their rubber-grip bottom to hold you to the ground. Plus it didn't help that it would be windy and felt like I was going to get blown out of balance!!
When I finally made it back down from Half Dome to the nice steady solid ground, the hike had definitely finally taken its toll on my legs. Halfway back the pain in my legs started to become unbearable to the point where I was taking baby steps instead of regular strides.
Lucky for me, another hiker noticed me discomfort and offered to wrap a makeshift bandaide around my knees- which alleviated the pain for another 3 miles!! By the last 4 miles, I had to put another wrap around my other knee. The last 3 miles, my friends had to help me walk!!
The hike took us longer than 12 hours since I was in pain by the end of the trip and couldn't walk as quickly. We made it to the car around 10:00 PM (we had started at 7:30 AM). I opted to take the John Muir Trail back since everyone said it was an easier hike than the one we had taken. It was a 4 mile hike back instead of the 2.5-3 mile that the more arduous prior trail offered.
When they said Half Dome hike is extreme, they definitely weren't kidding! I hope to make it back out and actually climb up the cables! But this time I'll be more physically prepared! The trip left me on bedrest for 3 days before I could start walking semi-normal!