One Hiker’s Experience

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

     I got a nice email from a Blog Reader, Ms. N of SoCal. I thought it might serve as a motivator for those who are contemplating this hike. While I appreciate her compliments, she’s the one who put one foot in front of the other for almost 10,000 vertical feet (up and down) over 16 miles and accomplished her goal. It’s long, but very cool.   

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     Six months ago, I set a goal to lose weight.  Knowing myself, I am typically more successful if I have something to work towards so I decided my ‘something’ was going to be to climb Half Dome.  I can’t say I lost as much weight as I wanted to but I did accomplish my ‘something’ thanks in large part to you, your book, and your blog!  In reading your blog, one of the many things that stood out to me was when you mentioned how anyone could complete Half Dome as long as they were Educated, Prepared, and Motivated.  I kept those three words in my mind as I trained and it was those three words that got me to the top of Half Dome.

     Education: Before I start anything whether it’s a vacation, an activity, etc,  I will research it to exhaustion (or as my husband thinks— to the point of overkill).  Half Dome was no different.   I bought your book and I became a regular reader of your blog.  You can bet that almost any question my husband asked pertaining to Half Dome started with a “Well Mr. Half Dome says…” I Googled Half Dome and read about other people’s experiences.  I even read all the information I could on the accidents and deaths on Half Dome, not to scare myself but to prepare myself on what NOT to do (although some of those accounts left my palms pretty sweaty!) Education: check! 

     Preparation: My husband and I hit the gym primarily the elliptical, weights, and row machine to build our endurance and upper body strength.  In addition, we have a scenic outlook nearby that has a set of 280+ stairs to the top.  The stairs mimicked the Mist Trail in that they were uneven and at different heights.  Three days a week, I would head over to the stairs and do 2-3 sets.  The days that I dragged my butt there even when I was tired after a long day at work definitely paid off in the end when I was able to manage the Mist Trail and the 20 other gazillion steps we encountered with much more ease.  And we made sure to get in our hikes on the weekends culminating in a 12 mile hike to Mt. San Jacinto in Palm Springs.  The hike was at high altitude ending at 10,000 feet so that gave us an idea of what it would be like to climb those sub dome stairs at high altitude. Preparation: check! 

     Motivation:  I was definitely motivated only because I knew if I didn’t get into shape, it would mean more of a risk of me losing my life (a little overdramatic, yes, but it was what kept me moving during those moments where I didn’t feel like going to the gym or to the stairs…whatever works!).  And I would be lying if I didn’t say people’s skepticism of me even being able to complete Half Dome didn’t motivate me.  It motivated me A LOT.  Being overweight as I was, I got a lot of skeptical looks from head to toe when I told people of our plans (An exclamation of “Oh wow that’s great!” coupled with a look of “Really? You? Uh-huh…”).  Motivation: check! 

     We set our goal date as Monday September 20.  I started reading your blog a little too late; as a result, I didn’t realize Mondays and Thursdays were now what weekends use to be like.  Knowing what I had read about the sub-dome, I gave it the due respect it deserved and we made it up safely with a bit of a scramble from point to point near the top.  I didn’t think the sub-dome was as scary as I had imagined them to be.  The cables, on the other hand, were every bit as scary as I had imagined when I first saw them up close and personal.  But I knew I had prepared well and as long as I was careful, all would be okay. Oh well, again, peace of mind is always a good thing! Going up, I had my moments where I wondered if I had done enough upper body training.  Being as short as I am, there were certain parts where the cables were almost above my head and I really had to put my whole body into it to pull myself up.  Thank goodness for the wooden boards, which provided a brief respite!! Going down was much easier if not still a little nerve-wracking.   And you are right, navigating the sub-dome down was much easier with our walking poles! Heading down we took the John Muir trail as suggested.  Wow!  The John Muir trail was the longest 3.something miles of my life! I was convinced that a cruel joke was being played on us and Happy Isles was somehow being moved further and further back! But we finally made it to our car and the sense of euphoria and accomplishment felt could not be described!!   

     All in all, I have to wholeheartedly thank you and the dedication you put into getting information out there to people like me through your book and blog.  All of your work made my work that much easier!!  I plan to continue my weight loss efforts and setting more goals…maybe to return to Half Dome and do it again this time more in shape or who knows…we thought about Machu Picchu (let the research began!)  Whatever it is, as I often told my husband during our training, “Well Mr. Half Dome says……CARPE DIEM!!”  Thank you again!!!

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Unrelated thought worth quoting: “As a nation we are dedicated to keeping physically fit – and parking as close to the stadium as possible.” – Bill Vaughan

 *MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com

About Mr Half Dome - Rick Deutsch

Mr Half Dome. Has written the only half dome hiking guide, One Best Hike: Yosemite's Half Dome. Has hiked it 31 times to day. Lives in San Jose, CA Available for presentations. Carpe Diem Experience, LLC
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0 Responses to One Hiker’s Experience

  1. mrhalfdome says:

    You see the waterfalls on the way UP the Mist trail..then you get to see Nevada on the JMT later…and at Clark’s point….nice…but then 26 switchbacks and pure boredom….but EASIER ON YOUR KNEES …the pack trail goes left so stay right at the end….

    The horses are very smart…they leave trail markers so they can find their way back.

  2. andy says:

    The return trip on the JMT is not fun. Not only is it long, it also is favored by horses. You will spend more time dealing with horse “remnants” than enjoying the hike.
    I know Mr Half Dome recommends the JMT for saving the knees coming down but for me it’s not worth it. The waterfalls are just to spectacular to not enjoy on the way down.

  3. john says:

    All those switchbacks on jmt look mighty alike, and no signs until you are nearly down to the mist trail intersection.

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