.Half Dome – Yosemite Musing
Get or Give permits <HERE> Seeing a lot of requests – make someone happy!
At 10 am Sunday morning12 Dome virgins and I left the North Pines backpacker lot for our 2 day ascent of Half Dome. Hauling 35+ pound packs (mine weighed 43) up 2,000 feet to Little Yosemite Valley was no picnic. Cramps, dehydration, and low stamina added up to an arrival at the camp at 7 pm. OK, that’s 9 hours. We did have 3 youngsters but they were actually no problem. Getting in that late afforded little time to set up tents and cook dinner. The next goal was to get up to Half Dome ahead of the expected rush of day hikers. So we planned for 7 am – which became 8 am in reality. The hike up moved along better since we carried only fanny packs or light daypacks. This day we stayed together to minimize issues. The stop for water at the Little Spring was like being in an oasis. We encountered the smiling face of Ranger Jesse at Sub Dome. Permits were checked. The hiking public apparently got confused if permits were needed on this weekday – even though the 4th was the holiday and was Sunday. No kidding – I saw 2 people above us. When we got to the cables, I counted 14.
Whoa! What is going on? Where is everybody? Our crew almost doubled the load and thankfully everyone could go at their own pace. I could not believe that at noon on a summer day the route up was not much busier than when John Muir went up the rope in 1875. The sparse crowd up top numbered no more than 30 people! Scary – like the Twilight Zone. After 2 hours of exploring we headed down the cables. I stepped on a short cut off pipe about 2 inches high and my ankle bent outward as I gasped in pain. Oh no – a sprain. It would have been worse if I didn’t have on my high top boots. I then had to limp down with most of my weight on my left foot. It was a long sliding, slipping descent. Here I was, trying to help people on the cables and it was me who was wincing. A stranger, Daniel, had bought my book and cam over offer me an ankle wrap he had – nice. Daniel – the brace was a medium (too small) but send me a note for a free T-Shirt. Good man! As the day wore on we heard via GMRS radios that one guy who was ill and did not leave camp took a turn downward in his vital signs and the LYV Rangers called in a helicopter to get him to the medical clinic for some oxygen and an IV. We could hear the chopper about 4 pm. All made it back to camp by 6 pm. On Tuesday I had to leave LYV at 7 am for a noon meeting with our Sonora bureau – I was down by 9 on a bum ankle and 43 pounds pounding on it. I heard today that the rest of the group hit the trail at noon and got back to Curry at 8. Whew. But we all had a great time (I think). Bottom line – don’t bother with the 2-day version of the Half Dome hike. Any gain we hoped for by taking 2 days was negated by the stress of hauling our life support system up 2,000 feet. Do it in 12 hours, be minimalist and be done with it.
Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.” – Satchel Paige
*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com