Half Dome – Yosemite Musing
Get or Give Half Dome permits<HERE>
Saturday was a perfect day for hiking Half Dome. I accompanied Claire, a permitted guide from Lasting Adventures, and 6 hearty women first-timers. The night was not as cold as expected and we got out of Curry at 5:45 am. We beat the PSAR van to the Happy Isles trail! Both Vernal and Nevada Fall were a mere memory of past months, but water did trickle down. The Merced in the Valley was just a long pile of boulders – kinda sad not to see the roaring river. Ranger Jesse was posted at sub dome and diligently checked our permits. He later told me that only 200 or so had gone up that day and of those 35 were given permits that fellow generous hikers had turned into him. He said all summer the number of people going up the cables has been well below the 400 permits per day. But Monday and Thursdays are jammed. My guess is that in 2011 we should expect permits every day and at a higher price so people feel pain if they don’t use them. These guys had a creative way to ask for permits!
When we got up sub dome, the cables only had 24 people visible on them. Wow, that is a blessing to those who have ever seen upwards of 200 souls clinging on. Our ladies did the pull fine. It was a challenge but worth it once they all got to the top. The view was spectacular. I saw a record 4 water bottles fall down the backside. I later found out that 3 of them were from our group!
No issues going down but they all remarked on how useful rubberized gloves and good boots were. We saw many tennis shoes slipping on the smooth granite. They also sung the praise of trekking poles especially to navigate down sub dome and the 5 hours home.
To our dismay, some punk stole the guide’s Katadyne water filter that she had hid in the woods. So no water for us at the Little Spring on the way down! Jerk. At Little Yosemite Valley we sweet talked a man into lending us his filter – a god send! We were now in fat city.
Due to the rapidly approaching darkness, we opted to return via the Mist Trail. Tough on the knees but much shorter than the John Muir Trail. We made it back well before dark. 14 hours total. The Curry buffet was closed at 8 but the pizza shack was still open. The line was an hour so we went inside to the hamburger stand and gorged on cow meat and deep fried potato slices. Hey, after burning over 4,000 calories, they tasted great.
That will be my last HD hike of 2010. The cables will be up unit Oct 11 – Columbus Day Monday – a permit day. If you think the comfort and security of a guided hike is for you, I can recommend the fine folks at Lasting Adventures. Check them out <HERE>. They will be setting up Half Dome hikes for next season.
Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time.” – Steven Wright
*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com