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The Moon is at the Last Quarter


Re: A Dome... and a Bit More

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A Dome... and a Bit More
March 10, 2015 09:08PM
Since it doesn't look like we'll be getting winter this... winter, we found ourselves yet again in Yosemite making hay--and miles--while the sun shines. The plan--something involving fractional domes.

The Half Dome cables were of course down for the season.

Vernal Fall had a decent amount of water--although most was probably from the recent light dusting of snow, not a harbinger of a heavy spring runoff.

While JKW continued along the trail towards Half Dome, the Great Pink One and I squeezed between Liberty Cap and Mt. Broderick.

The well-trod route was mostly easy to follow and was tricky in only a few places.

The scoured walls of the presently dry narrow canyon revealed both how much of an impact the glaciers of past ages could make, and how resilient the granite they squeezed between could be.

We met up with JKW in Little Yosemite Valley and enjoyed lunch before continuing up the trail.

For the record, the Half Dome cables were down for the season.

No trip would be complete without daleing around some abandoned trails--this one an older, but in no way inferior--alignment of the Half Dome trail.

In fact, it had one advantage over the present trail: it crossed the small watercourse below the mapped spring where there was a trickle of water--this would be the only running water we would see other than Sunrise Creek and the Merced River. It took awhile to fill my water bottle, but it was almost dry--I hadn't been able to fill up since the top of Vernal Falls.

We met up with JKW yet again past the Clouds Rest/JMT junction and continued up the trail, soon encountering scattered patches of shallow snow--all from the recent storms. To the northeast we could see Clouds Rest, Quarter Domes, and 1/8th or 1/16th Dome (depending on who you ask).

As we wound up to the base of the Half Dome subdome, we all were running out of steam, and were relieved when we were presented with good camping opportunities.

In fact, I had come down with a bit of a cold and was quite ready to stop for the day. Soon all our gear was scattered across a slab-with-a-view and we started melting whatever meager snow we could find.

Some people may like those wooded campsites with large logs surrounding a sooty campfire ring, but for us, it's all about clean granite and expansive views.

Behind us, Half Dome had just a dusting of snow.

The sun eventually sat over El Capitan... but that's a story for the next night.

After a bit of a restless, congested, but otherwise warm and pleasant night's sleep, I woke up, and soon we were preparing breakfast and sorting gear for a day trip up Half Dome. Eventually, with light packs and lunch, we started up the subdome's recently-improved steps and switchbacks.

Note: the cables were down. For the season.

JKW and I hadn't been up Half Dome since our first--and only--trip decades ago. It was entirely different to be on the trail without the usual crowds.

Soon we reached the base of the cables, which were down for the season. We had in fact brought some gear to allow for a safe ascent, and after putting on our harnesses and practicing our Prusiks, we were on our way up the dome.

What probably took the most time ascending was the need to re-rig the Prusiks several times due to the use of multiple cables and stabilizing loops (PRO TIP: bring enough gear to hitch two Prusiks per person...) However, we soon reached the summit and declared victory.

We stopped for the usual Half Dome photos...

...and checked out the usual places.

We saw only three other people the entire time we were on the summit--which was quite awhile, since we decided to walk down the Snake Dike a bit.

We ended up going down almost 400', following the rugged dikes on Half Dome. In other places, the glaciers polish the rock so that the dikes or inclusions are flat with the rest of the granite, but Half Dome was above most of the glacial activity, so the differences in weathering between the granite and the dikes is more apparent.

There is no obvious place where you have gone too far, but eventually we reached a point where going back up seemed to make the most sense.

It was a bit of a climb, after which we stopped for lunch on the visor.

The other three people on the summit had left. We had Half Dome to ourselves. Due to the lack of running water anywhere--and the fear that I'd run out of fuel melting snow--I scavenged water from several small potholes on the dome.

Well, almost to ourselves...

The trip down was a bit tedious only in the need to re-rig the Prusiks every few minute--but better safe than not.

The way down is impressively steep, but in fact having the cables "down" helped a bit with traction in that the weight of the heavy cables pushed us against the rock, improving grip. This would of course not be the case in a normal cables-down winter since there would be ice or snow along the way...

At the base of the cables I scavenged more water from small potholes, eventually ending up with three liters of buggy water. After returning to our campsite and packing all our gear, we headed to the next night's destination: 1/16th dome. Or 1/8th dome. Potato, potato.

In any event, it was a nice walk from our campsite, with just a few larger fallen trees to work our way around.

Our "dome"--really a small flat section of granite jutting out over Tenaya Canyon--had great views of the vertical faces of the Quarter Domes.

Since our little dome was much smaller than half of either of the Quarter Domes, 1/16 seems to make more sense...

From our narrow and somewhat exposed perch we had excellent views into Tenaya Canyon.

Despite it still being winter--at least on the calendar--it was downright hot as we hung out for the afternoon at our camp. However, since my cold was still present, the rest was most welcome.

As the sun sat we could make out our shadows on the face of the Quarter Dome.

Abstract selfie

We were treated to another wonderful sunset.

Our friends who had first met at the top of Forester Pass in '08 had decided to hike to the top of El Cap, from where we received good news via radio.

The good tidings: they had (finally!) decided to get hitched. We of course congratulated them--and had even brought some wine so we could toast them.

A few pictures from that trip:

it's like they don't even see each other... yet.

...and their first steps together on what will hopefully be a long, wonderful and beautiful adventure together.

Best wishes on their journey ahead!

E was wearing Crocs, by the way, and would finish the JMT with them.

The evening was very mild, and we were even treated to a few hours of wonderful darkness before the moon blasted light at us.

However, the near-full moon did allow us to experience the vistas around us... all night long.

We had enjoyed another mild night. After waking up and mentally adjusting our clocks, we packed up and headed up to the Quarter Domes.

We were greeted with another warm, clear day. Winter?

After exploring the various erratics and other rock formations on the domes, we started our long descent to Happy Isles.

We eschewed the trail in favor of a more open route...

...one with a few oddities along the way.

We stopped for lunch on a dome overlooking Little Yosemite Valley, where we could see the scars from the recent Meadow Fire.

After that, we shot down the trail. JKW and I decided to take the knee-preserving JMT, while the pink bird flew down the Mist Trail. On Ice Cut, we found the only significant ice we encountered on the entire trip.

The rest of the descent to Happy Isles was uneventful.

We met up with E and A in person at the Foresta/OBOFRT trailhead and were able to congratulate them in person. After chatting with them a bit, we met up with the pink bird at a turnout looking for another boundary marker. I helped with a few "bonus coverage" scavenger hunts--striking out completely on one, and finding the section corner that should have been near the other--unfortunately, it was in an old roadbed that post-dated the 1905 survey, so the original marker is probably lost to history.

More Pictures
Re: A Dome... and a Bit More
March 11, 2015 12:44AM
Great TR! Thanks for sharing. I am soo tempted to make a trip to Yosemite over this weekend.

Congrats on the Half Dome trip and it's amazing that you guys had the summit to yourself. Love the pic of the lunch spot (The seat with a view) and the sunset/night shots. cheers
Re: A Dome... and a Bit More
March 11, 2015 05:13AM
What is the current status of the Half Dome Cables?
avatar Re: A Dome... and a Bit More
March 11, 2015 06:49AM
What is the current status of the Half Dome Cables?

It really made no sense. Me stand at the subdome and I am certain they were up.

Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: A Dome... and a Bit More
March 11, 2015 06:56AM
Well.... seeing that it's 5/8th's dome... and that I know for certain that 6" is the new 2" ...
It's gotta be 1/8 dome.

ProTippy #1969...
Bring Snorkely Mask when a Moonlight is Burning:

ProTippy #1/8th ...
To be safe... get on bellie when looking ova edges:

Winta ProTippy:
Always stay in Sleepy Bag until the sun hits you in the morning.

And of course... always have fun n spread ur flippers.

Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: A Dome... and a Bit More
March 11, 2015 10:58AM
ProTippy #1/8th ...
To be safe... get on bellie when looking ova edges:

avatar Re: A Dome... and a Bit More
March 11, 2015 09:23AM
As always, an incredible report about your adventures. Many, many thanks.
avatar Re: A Dome... and a Bit More
March 11, 2015 05:23PM
Well color me green with envy...wish I was there with you!

Although I have to say that as many times as I have been up Half Dome over the years (15+/-), those cables always give me as much fun/fear combination as I can stand. I am still not sure about doing it with the cables down. Maybe someday.
Re: A Dome... and a Bit More
March 11, 2015 09:34PM
I have just not found the time to write my blurbie... Hopefully tomorrow sometime..

BUT I have only done Half Dome once prior to this trip. Decades ago. I said I'd never do it again. Did with cables, pre-quota. Had to go down on outside, cables jammed with people inside. Only good thing to say about it was that I'd done it. I didn't really enjoy it. I didn't enjoy my time at top-so scared about going down...

Short version: this trip with protection I trusted... No real fear. Worst that was going to happen was a 1+ foot "fall"/smack against wall. A bit of bruising and scraped skin at most. I would do this again (and again) with the conditions we had. I will probably not do with the cables up (and no pro) again. I just don't have enough trust in the strangers and my grip strength.
Re: A Dome... and a Bit More
March 12, 2015 02:12PM
Very nice trip report.
Thank you
Re: A Dome... and a Bit More
March 12, 2015 08:43PM
thanks for the report- looks like a great trip!
Re: A Dome... and a Bit More
March 12, 2015 09:17PM
Not fun. One of the best trips, and I've had no time to sit and write up anything. But here goes... quickly...

  • On head starts - This time, I was told "1 hour head start" as they stopped to find boundary markers. But I had to hit the bathroom, and get my feet ready. I had 19 minutes in the parking lot before they turned up. Last time they told me 45 minutes, I had 17 minutes. Things are not going my way on this count...
  • On heavy lunch before uphill - In LYV, we met up for lunch. And I idiotically ate a turkey sandwich with avocado, cheese, and bacon. How stupid. I was hurting as we started going up again hard.
  • On big steps - I did the Mist Trail to LYV. Then we kept going up. By the time we were closing in on the sub-dome, any step more than 6" high was bothering my quads. Ugh. I would have been fine without the steps. What does this mean? More steps practice!
  • On never saying never - As I mentioned in response to Bearproof's comment about fear/fun factor.... I have said often I'd never go up Half Dome again. This has happened before. I've said "I'll never do <something>" and have ended up doing <something>! You'd think I'd learn
  • On buggy water - Yah, we were relatively short on water. We were tiring of melting snow in camp. So the buggy water from Half Dome... well, I use a bottle with a Sawyer filter on it. I would just casually look at the bugs floating in the bottle as I drank. Didn't care. When in camp, we used a bandana to strain the bugs. But I really didn't care. Tasted fine to me!
  • On abstract selfie - On pic #31 (Abstract Selfie), can you make out which shadows are ours? And in what order, left-to-right we were in? Kudos if you can. We studied them as we were standing and I could make my shadow bigger or smaller by just moving my arms. It was fun!
  • On not getting taller - For the number of times my legs get pulled by these characters, you'd think I'd be taller by now! But no. Still the same height. Sigh. Could really use longer legs for those big steps!
  • On flying downhill - We said Good Bye (we thought) to Chick-On at the Mist Trail junction at the top of Nevada Fall. Later we found out he thought he would be ahead of us by an hour. Turned out we hit the car 20 minutes after he did - and we went the longer JMT way. I did my usual glide down. Much easier on my knees than the steps. And, apparently, a lot faster than my pace down the steps! Crestfallen would describe Chick-on's demeanor when he found out!
  • On engagements - So happy for our friends. That was JMT in 2008, I believe. I'd bailed in Red's Meadow. A and Basilbop continued on. Apparently, E met A on Forester Point (see picture) and the two have been basically inseparable since! Yay! But gotta say, the man is an ox. He hiked in Crocs for almost the entire second half of the trail. When I met him at Whitney Portal I fixated on the Crocs first!
  • On finding boundary markers - So, we did, in fact, meet up with Chick-on again, looking for the boundary marker, again, at the turnout from the beginning of the trip. Seemed not a one of us was really in a rush to go "home"...
Re: A Dome... and a Bit More
March 12, 2015 09:26PM
Dang- you guys have a good thang going!
Re: A Dome... and a Bit More
March 12, 2015 10:24PM

Thanks for the great report!
Re: A Dome... and a Bit More
March 13, 2015 06:04PM
Awesome! Love your sunset photos! ...and the others too.
avatar Re: A Dome... and a Bit More
March 17, 2015 08:09PM
Cool stuff. Did you have a view of Pywiack Cascade and Snow Creek Falls from your campsite?
avatar Re: A Dome... and a Bit More
March 18, 2015 04:03PM
Cool stuff. Did you have a view of Pywiack Cascade and Snow Creek Falls from your campsite?

Yes, both nights...
Well, Snow Creek you had to move ur booty to go see... but Pywiack was right there...
Not much water flowing... sad smiley

If you look at Z Stick N Fedders faux toes... the one captioned:
"From our narrow and somewhat exposed perch we had excellent views into Tenaya Canyon."
has Pywiack visible

I took zoom of Snow Creek if u want to see that... you could have done the hike and not
really noticed it though...the lack of snow means no booming falls...
sad smiley

Chick-on is looking at you!
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