Trash on the Half Dome Hike: Pack it Out

There are NO trash cans above the Valley on the Happy Isles trail or the Mist or the John Muir Trail or anywhere in the wilderness. The plan is to Leave No Trace. As in pack out your stuff. This photo was taken in the last flushing Men’s toilet on the Half Dome hike – at the Vernal Fall Footbridge toilet.  Gee, look at the traces of human activity. Sure, just dump your empties ….”someone” will surely pick it up.

Me thinks the culprits were day hikers only going to the footbridge. REAL hikers would not take soda bottles. Water is the key on the hike and most hikers carry bottles or reservoirs up. The Vernal Fall footbridge is all of 45-minutes from the valley. There are huge trash cans at Bus Stop 16. I often shove these kind of finds into my shirt. I plan to shower and wash the shirt anyway, so I don’t really mind. But it does jaw me that we have special people – I wonder what their house looks like.

Another pet-peeve. Discarded fruit. You know orange rinds and banana peels. But aren’t they bio-degradable? Sure, in about 3 minutes, the magic fairy comes and vaporizes them. This stuff attracts ants, then bees, then rats, then snakes, then bears, then BigFoot.  I tried an experiment. I took an apple core and put it on an index card with the date and put it in the backyard. Oh yes, it shrank but never went away Another 3 weeks later it was still on the planet. No fairy came.

Again, the phrase is “Leave No Trace” – that’s a modern version of take only photos, leave only footprints. Besides chastizing dummies, I say let’s all pick up ONE piece ot trash on our way down. Keep the trail nice and tidy. Zip Lock bags do the trick.


Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Surfin’ Bird”- The Trashmen

MrHalfDome™ – Rick Deutsch –

One Best Hike: Yosemite’s Half Dome



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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5 Responses to Trash on the Half Dome Hike: Pack it Out

  1. Sönke says:

    Thanks for addresing this very important issue. It always amazes me how much waste people leave in precious environment.

  2. Maureen L says:

    I carry the plastic bags that my San Francisco Chronicle comes in when it’s looking rainy for such purposes, and for my own orange and banana peels. Cheaper than ziplocs, and recycling.

    They are large enough to invert over my hand if I want an instant glove.

    She-who-picks-up-trash-on-trails takes a break on the Half Dome hike except for the home stretch. She humbly requests that you leave all your orange/tangerine/clementine peels in one place rather than peeling as you walk, and that you leave the trash close to the trail rather than tossing it out of reach or downslope.

    Worst item ever — a disposable diaper, for which I used an inverted Chronicle bag and then hand sanitizer.

  3. Jane says:

    And PLEASE pack out your toilet paper!

    • Thank you Jane and Maureen. YES, pack your TP in a zip lock…there are 4 toilets on the hike….git ‘er dun there!! Pee 100 ft from trail or water…and ladies – pack yer paper after.

      A public service announcement. If it gets real bad, they may have “human waste disposal” system. Yuck.

  4. matt says:

    I often pick up trash along any trail I’m on. I carried a discarded soda can roughly 14 miles on a recent hike. Just strapped it to the bottom of my pack. Easy

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