Half Dome – Yosemite Musing
Thursday was “no excuses day”. As much as I wanted to curl up in my 700-fill down sleeping bag and wait until daylight, I got my tired bones up and out of my tent cabin and hit the trail at 6 am – on schedule. Although we are having a minor warm trend, it was nippy when I headed up the John Muir trail with my headlamp on. I wore my zip-off leg pants and a Northface APEX windblocker jacket. For this hike I used my suspension backpack with a 2 quart bladder and one 1-quart Nalgene inside. I was the only one on the trail. I didn’t see anyone until I was on the upper Mist Trail! The rain last week filled the falls.
As usual I started to sweat under the jacket which made things uncomfortable, but I didn’t want to get caught under-dressed on this big hike. Dark hits about 6:30 pm and I had no idea what time I’d be back. I carried internet summaries of the route. The beginnnig was pretty easy – taking a spur off to the left in Little Yosemite Valley. Then through thin woods and to Lost Lake. That was pretty cool. It’s a large area – maybe 3 football fields – and was about 20% full. It’s very marshy at the banks, but it could be used for pumping water. A nice worn trail runs to the south of Lost Lake for about a mile. Then things peter out. Rock cairns help point the way. I had tried to follow the text of my aids but ended up going down a large gully between Mt. Broderick and the Cap of Liberty. Backtrack for a half hour. I stumbled upon another series of trail ducks and an apparent route up to the Diving Board. The approach to Snake Dike is coincident for a while.
My quest degenerated to some hard core scrambling and old fashion bushwacking. Then a complete absence of cairns. I could have used a machete! Where to next? When I decided to backtrack to the cairns I could not find the route I came up on. It all looks alike. I heard voices and caught a fleeting glimpse of 2 climbers off aways. But I had a forest and boulders between us. There are a ton of Manzanita bushes to impede any forward movement. The base of Half Dome is vertical but the slabs at the base are very steep. I was maybe 100 yards from the wall. At noon I decided 6 hours was enough and I didn’t want to get caught lost and become a statistic. I found a nice shaded boulder and kicked back for an hour. It was totally silent. No noise at all. I could hear my pulse in my ears. I sat at about 6600 feet and gazed over at Mt. Starr King, Mt. Broderick, the Cap of Liberty and Merced Canyon. There are 2 huge formations there. I was pretty close to Half Dome but nowhere near the Diving Board. Enough. I hiked back and played a bit at Mt Broderick. Tried to scramble up the steep backside but the lichens made it real slippery. I had one nice slide down the slope on my butt, and decided to bring it home before I bonked on a hard granite block.
I’ll save it for another day. Adding to the fun was my use of a crappy Magellan Triton 2000 GPS. This was an eval unit I got last year and was subsequently pulled from the market. Firmware issues and the batteries were going dead in 2 hours. I brought it since I could not locate my Garmin 60CSx. The key would be to create a route using the long/lat from the internet summaries. Then my friggin’ bladder sprung a leak inside my pack down by the valve, soaking everything and wasting precious water.
Despite all this I had a blast. All alone exploring like John Muir. This is a great hike to just get away and see someplace new. It would be a fun overnight if allowed. No photos today. The Curry internet is having router problems and connection is a long wait. Pix clog the bandwidth. People doing Skype and downloading photos really put the kibosh on things.
I am off Sat to Groveland to give a talk to the Southern Tuolumne County Historical Society. Staying at Hotel Charlotte. Dunno if they have wifi so the blog might be late.
Unrelated thought worth quoting: “You need special shoes for hiking – and a bit of a special soul as well.” – Terri Guillemets
*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com