Welcome! Log In Create A New Profile Recent Posts
Vernel Fall, Merced River, Yosemite National Park

The Moon is New


Advanced

Re: Half Dome Hike

All posts are those of the individual authors and the owner of this site does not endorse them. Content should be considered opinion and not fact until verified independently.

Half Dome Hike
March 06, 2012 07:02PM
Looking for some "expert" opinions. Hubby and I are planning our summer trip and have included Half Dome in our plans. We're entertaining the thought of hiking at night to be on top at sunrise. Has anybody had any experience with the hike at night? I would welcome any thoughts or advise.

Thanks!
avatar Re: Half Dome Hike
March 06, 2012 08:23PM
Have you done much night hiking?
Re: Half Dome Hike
March 06, 2012 08:35PM
None at all. But.....we have applied for permits during the full moon so we should have that on our side. winking smiley
avatar Re: Half Dome Hike
March 06, 2012 08:44PM
You might want to try it some before deciding if it's a good idea. Even avoiding the Mist Trail there are sections that are steps carved out of rock that you might find tricky in the dark.
Re: Half Dome Hike
March 06, 2012 09:07PM
We'll be avoiding the Mist Trail at all cost! Don't care if I NEVER do that one again!!
avatar Re: Half Dome Hike
March 13, 2012 08:26PM
Quote
TexHiker
We'll be avoiding the Mist Trail at all cost! Don't care if I NEVER do that one again!!

What's wrong with the Mist Trail?
avatar Re: Half Dome Hike
March 16, 2012 08:13AM
Quote
eeek
Quote
TexHiker
We'll be avoiding the Mist Trail at all cost! Don't care if I NEVER do that one again!!

What's wrong with the Mist Trail?

I think if he dislikes the Mist Trail (one of my favorite parts) that he'll be really uncomfortable on the sub-dome in the dark. The sub-dome is tricky for some while in good light because of perception issues.



http://www.flickr.com/photos/dqniel/
avatar Re: Half Dome Hike
March 16, 2012 11:00AM
Quote
dqniel
I think if he dislikes the Mist Trail (one of my favorite parts) that he'll be really uncomfortable on the sub-dome in the dark. The sub-dome is tricky for some while in good light because of perception issues.

Parts of the JMT might be rough for him too. That's why I asked.
avatar Re: Half Dome Hike
March 17, 2012 11:01AM
Agreed. That's what I used while doing my Half Dome hike and if I did it again I'd just do the Mist Trail. Mist Trail is shorter and only marginally more difficult (if at all) while going uphill. Then again, I guess it depends on what his issue with the Mist Trail is.



http://www.flickr.com/photos/dqniel/
avatar Re: Half Dome Hike
March 17, 2012 12:09PM
The Mist Trail is a lot more scenic and unique compared to that portion of the JMT, but going both either uphill or downhill, I find the JMT easier to trek.

For one, there's a whole lot less amount of people, especially ill-equipped flip-flops wearing people to get in your way. Second, you'll stay drier on the JMT if that's important to you. And if traveling at night, it would probably be best that one doesn't get soaked on the Mist Trail since it can get pretty cold at night even in the late summer. Of course, hiking up the Mist Trail late at night, one probably will not encounter too many flip-flops wearing hikers, but depending on the waterflow, one could conceivably still get soaked.

The JMT has its issues too. The trail is rocky, a bit sandy in places, and of course it's full of horse and mule dung. But I can definitely understand why one would want to avoid the Mist Trail at night if they want to keep dry.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/17/2012 02:24PM by plawrence.
avatar Re: Half Dome Hike
March 17, 2012 01:08PM
Quote
dqniel
Agreed. That's what I used while doing my Half Dome hike and if I did it again I'd just do the Mist Trail. Mist Trail is shorter and only marginally more difficult (if at all) while going uphill. Then again, I guess it depends on what his issue with the Mist Trail is.

I'd probably avoid it at night. Not due to the trail itself, just don't think getting wet would be a good idea in the cold.
Re: Half Dome Hike
March 18, 2012 08:11AM
When we did it at night, we did the JMT. There was a huge temp drop when we reached the river - we were hiking in down jackets at that point. Took them off again on the way up the hill leaving LYV.

Cold SINKS and the water will make it colder. Unless you are certain of your rain gear the Mist Trail while the falls is "misting" is a ticket to hypothermia.
avatar Re: Half Dome Hike
March 18, 2012 01:46PM
Quote
AlmostThere
When we did it at night, we did the JMT. There was a huge temp drop when we reached the river - we were hiking in down jackets at that point. Took them off again on the way up the hill leaving LYV.

Cold SINKS and the water will make it colder. Unless you are certain of your rain gear the Mist Trail while the falls is "misting" is a ticket to hypothermia.

As with all things in Yosemite, it's dependent on the weather. He said summer, but depending on what time of summer and that specific day's conditions the temperature would be of little worry in comparison to the risk of a slip in the dark.



http://www.flickr.com/photos/dqniel/
Re: Half Dome Hike
February 05, 2013 06:20AM
Quote
dqniel
Quote
AlmostThere
When we did it at night, we did the JMT. There was a huge temp drop when we reached the river - we were hiking in down jackets at that point. Took them off again on the way up the hill leaving LYV.

Cold SINKS and the water will make it colder. Unless you are certain of your rain gear the Mist Trail while the falls is "misting" is a ticket to hypothermia.

As with all things in Yosemite, it's dependent on the weather. He said summer, but depending on what time of summer and that specific day's conditions the temperature would be of little worry in comparison to the risk of a slip in the dark.

The vast majority of hypothermia cases occur in SUMMER because, as you did, most assume that the temperatures won't be so bad.

The drop I experienced was significant - I had a thermometer - it was 33 F, and you can be hypothermic when it's 40 - 50 F when wind or water are involved.

Suggest you review hypothermia and its symptoms for your safety.

(Yes, I know this is an old thread.)
avatar Re: Half Dome Hike
April 07, 2013 01:07PM
Quote
AlmostThere
Quote
dqniel
Quote
AlmostThere
When we did it at night, we did the JMT. There was a huge temp drop when we reached the river - we were hiking in down jackets at that point. Took them off again on the way up the hill leaving LYV.

Cold SINKS and the water will make it colder. Unless you are certain of your rain gear the Mist Trail while the falls is "misting" is a ticket to hypothermia.

As with all things in Yosemite, it's dependent on the weather. He said summer, but depending on what time of summer and that specific day's conditions the temperature would be of little worry in comparison to the risk of a slip in the dark.

The vast majority of hypothermia cases occur in SUMMER because, as you did, most assume that the temperatures won't be so bad.

The drop I experienced was significant - I had a thermometer - it was 33 F, and you can be hypothermic when it's 40 - 50 F when wind or water are involved.

Suggest you review hypothermia and its symptoms for your safety.

(Yes, I know this is an old thread.)

I think my post was misunderstood. I didn't say "dress with reckless abandon because it's summer." I simply said that I'd be more worried about slipping in the dark than I would be about the cold, because of probabilities. I'm a numbers guy, and I bet if you looked up the statistics on how many people have died while hiking Half Dome there'd be more due to slips/falls and subsequent drownings than due to hypothermia during the summer months. Regardless of wearing properly warm, waterproof clothing, it would still be risky to hike on wet granite in the dark. I even qualified my statement by stating that it depends on "that specific day's conditions." i.e. always dress appropriately for that day's conditions, and know what that area's worst possible conditions can be during the time you've planned to hike. I understand the risks of hypothermia just fine- that's why I brought fleece hats and jackets and synthetic pants when I hiked Half Dome during July. I ended up not needing any of it, but it was peace of mind in case the temperature dropped more than expected. Cold air is chilly, but cold, wet air is even more so.



http://www.flickr.com/photos/dqniel/



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 04/07/2013 01:31PM by dqniel.
Re: Half Dome Hike
February 05, 2013 06:42AM
Quote
eeek
What's wrong with the Mist Trail?
I don't understand why people don't love the Mist Trail. It is difficult, but so spectacular.
avatar Re: Half Dome Hike
March 06, 2012 08:47PM
Are you just dayhiking? Um... I mean nighthiking it?
Or are you backpacking at all?

And what exactly is your motivation? So you can spend a whole day atop HD?
So you can say you night hiked it?

Why I asking this? Well... if you just want to see the sun rise from a pretty spectacular place...
you could just drive up to GP then and hike to the top of Sentinel... or you could just be up
at GP at sunrise...

With a full moon it will be super bright... but also very dark in the shadows. I dunno if I would
go up the dome for the first time in the "dark".
I'm certain you will have company though...

Have fun

(an "expert" is someone who has neither seen nor heard it all but thinks they have)
(I'm needer)




Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Half Dome Hike
March 06, 2012 09:06PM
Motivations:

1. to be on top of Half dome at sunrise.

That's pretty much it.

We met a group last year that was going to leave at 10pm in order to be there at sunrise at that planted the seed. Maybe not the best idea but it was worth the thought.
avatar Re: Half Dome Hike
March 06, 2012 09:27PM
You wanna do it... that's good enough reason in dis birds book.

My concern would be the sub-dome in the dark esp. if you have never done it.
If you don't want to go up The Mist Trail in the dark... then I would def. caution you on that.
(of course you could just wait until sunrise at the subdome... but that defeats
most of the porpoise)

My main qualm on hiking in the dark is that with a headlamp I end up getting
tunnel vision. My wife pretty much refuses to start trips in the dark anymore...
she'd rather just get up bright and early and start whenever we get there.

Have fun whatever you do



Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Half Dome Hike
March 07, 2012 01:10AM
I like hiking at night, but I've done it quite a bit. It can make route finding difficult at time if it's a sparsely travelled route. Make sure you have a good headlamp with fresh batteries. That being said, I would echo the recommendation that you try night hiking on a shorter hike before you do something as auspicious as half some.
Re: Half Dome Hike
March 07, 2012 04:08AM
Agree that you should try a night hike before you commit to HD. Things look different at night...almost freaky. If you decide to go, take extra batteries and maybe an extra headlamp.
Another way to do this is to hike up near the subdome in daylight and camp. That's what I did. Then get up pre dawn and summit. Requires a wilderness permit, though. Also requires bringing water, since it will be a dry camp.
Re: Half Dome Hike
March 07, 2012 09:15AM
The easiest Half Dome hike that I've done was the night hike. You should plan to go a bit slower as not to get too sweaty so more time should allowed. By hiking slower, the exertion level was so much lower, and maybe the fact that it was so dark (without the visual keys,) it just seemed dang easy.

Yes, bring spare batteries for your headlamp...mine went dead just above Nevada Falls. Had to use my mini mag light.

The trail is so wide that there are no problems. Lots of critters, especially on the first .8 mile, are all over the trail. Spiders, scorpions, centipedes (or millipedes.) Sounds are fabulous, especially the water. Turning off the headlamps/flashlights and pausing to adjust the eyes to see silhouettes was memorable too. If you go in the full moon, it won't be as dark, except for, as chick-on said, in the shadows.

Prepare for the cold. Full fingered gloves are desired. I used my usual fingerless bike gloves on the cables...my fingertips did not recover until after the sun rose. And our hiking party really had to bundle up on top, waiting for the sun.

Took the JMT on the way up instead of the Mist Trail.

Be sure to watch for those sneaky base jumpers at dawn.
avatar Re: Half Dome Hike
March 09, 2012 09:33AM
A buddy and I did a sunrise hike of HD Labor Day 2011. We took Mist Trail up, as we both have done it during the day multiple times, so was familiar with it. I have done limited night hike/bike before, so the tunnel vision was not so much a problem. We were on the trail about 10:30 PM, and topped out about 4:30 AM. My buddy is a former science teacher, so I was schooled in all the visible constellations (super clear night). We were able to take about a 30 min. nap, then awake for sunrise. We were joined by about a dozen more hikers by sunrise.

Conditions were perfect, that is no people on the trail, and cool temps. Once you got moving on the trail, it was shorts and baselayer on top.
Re: Half Dome Hike
March 09, 2012 11:36AM
Quote
TexHiker
Looking for some "expert" opinions. Hubby and I are planning our summer trip and have included Half Dome in our plans. We're entertaining the thought of hiking at night to be on top at sunrise. Has anybody had any experience with the hike at night? I would welcome any thoughts or advise.

Thanks!

I haven't hiked Half Dome at night, but have hiked the Whitney Main trail at night many times. I'd highly recommend giving it a try, especially if you can do it during a full-ish moon. Night hiking is a very different experience: you'll not see as much, but you'll experience much more with your other senses.

One thing: if the moon is bright, you really don't need to use a headlamp once your eyes adapt to the darkness (but bring one just in case). I'd also resist the temptation to use a very bright headlamp even if it's a new moon--dimmer, more diffuse light helps avoid the "tunnel vision" thing, and you'll end up seeing more once your eyes adapt.

One more thing: I've found that despite the best efforts to nap the day before a night hike, it's hard to avoid the 3-4am "bonk", when your body just wants to sleep. It's probably best to schedule a nap at this time (maybe near the HD shoulder?), but it will be cold--bringing a sleeping bag or down jacket/pants wouldn't be a bad idea.
avatar Re: Half Dome Hike
March 09, 2012 12:36PM
I've found night hiking in summer has two benefits;
1. It's a lot cooler
2. You don't know how steep the trail is.



Old Dude
avatar Re: Half Dome Hike
March 09, 2012 06:26PM
Be in good condition, well-prepared with some warm up night hikes to get used to operating the headlamp, bring water filter for filling up along the way, extra batteries, give yourself enough time to have an unrushed pace, and it could likely be one of the best things you've ever done! It should be fabulous in clear conditions.
Re: Half Dome Hike
March 09, 2012 07:15PM
A couple of things to be aware of if you're doing a night hike:

1) You will have very little depth perception. What is in the moonlight will be bright, anything else will be pitch black. You can compensate for this somewhat with a flashlight, but be warned that tripping is a serious hazard.

2) Your view from on top of Half Dome isn't necessarily much better than Glacier Point or elsewhere in the park, because you won't actually get to see the sun illuminating Half Dome itself.
avatar Re: Half Dome Hike
March 10, 2012 12:23AM
Quote
yosemitenut

2) Your view from on top of Half Dome isn't necessarily much better than Glacier Point or elsewhere in the park, because you won't actually get to see the sun illuminating Half Dome itself.

The iconic views of Half Dome from the west, be it from Glacier Point, Sentinel Dome, Sentinel Bridge, Tunnel View, etc. aren't really that special during sunrise since the sunrise will be in the east, behind Half Dome.

For a nice first light view of Half Dome, you need to be to the east of Half Dome, like on top of Cloud Rest or one of the Quarter Domes, or even on Half Dome's sub-dome.
Re: Half Dome Hike
March 10, 2012 08:09AM







smiling smiley



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/10/2012 12:51PM by eeek.
Re: Half Dome Hike
March 10, 2012 08:52AM
I have hiked Half Dome at night at least 15 times over the years. I honestly wouldn't recommend this unless you know the trail well enough in the daytime. There are several sections where you might go astray or just not know where to go.

Since you're avoiding the Mist Trail and doing the JMT route, after you reach the area before the bridge, you will almost certainly have no idea where you're going in the dark. There are no signs and you might just be stuck or wandering around aimlessly, wondering, "where do I go?" If you know the trail, it's not an issue. But I would never hike Half Dome in the dark without knowing from daytime experience.

In addition, once you get to Little Yosemite Valley and the sand portion, you can't get lost there, but many people erroneously believe you're almost done at that point. When they reach the sign at the end of LYV and see you have 4.5 more miles to go, I've seen countless people turn around.

If you do it, make sure your have extra batteries for your headlamps and bring a flashlight as well. Because if something goes wrong and your bulbs go out, a flashlight will enable you to make progress in the dark.

Finally (and I realize I'm sounding like a party pooper and I do apologize for that), smiling smiley.... the view of the sunrise at the top of Half Dome is really not that spectacular. The view from the top of Clouds Rest is by far the superior view, IMHO.

On the plus side, starting Half Dome at 2:00 or 3:00 is fantastic because there are no people on the trail. You'll have it all to yourselves. Be prepared also to tack on another .6 miles of walking if you're starting from Curry Village cabins.
avatar Re: Half Dome Hike
March 13, 2012 09:55PM
Quote
Ulysses61
the view of the sunrise at the top of Half Dome is really not that spectacular. The view from the top of Clouds Rest is by far the superior view, IMHO.

I must respectfully differ with you about the Half Dome view of sunrise - my favorite photography time starts about 45 minutes before sunrise, and to watch the sky change from dark to blue to orange and other colors as light settles over the landscape in all directions is fabulous, and especially great at locations like Half Dome. Yes, you can't see as much terrain as compared to Clouds Rest, but it's still fantastic. Plus, you'll never look at Half Dome the same way again - looking up at it from the Valley floor will always bring a smile of reminiscence.

Worth doing? Absolutely, I think. Always better to try!
avatar Re: Half Dome Hike
March 13, 2012 08:54PM
You will love it! And an advantage is not having to worry about afternoon thunderstorms.
Be prepared....be careful....and if you are there at full moon its very cool to watch the moon set in the west and then turn around and watch the sun rise in the east!
Re: Half Dome Hike
March 15, 2012 08:35AM
I literally just got chills!

Now if August will just get here....Pounding head on desk
Re: Half Dome Hike
March 15, 2012 08:42AM
Huge thanks to all who took the time to comment. I really do appreciate your insight!

The plan is to give it a go. To say we're excited would be an understatement! Now we just have to wait until August (huge sigh).
Re: Half Dome Hike
March 15, 2012 09:03AM
I've hiked HD once at night, a number of times in the day. Night was a good experience, (except the two-hour drive home the next day!)

The only thing I'd warn you of is that you don't know the trail, so you need to study it VERY carefully, so you know where there are junctions. I'd hate to hear you missed the turn where it heads north out of little Yosemite Valley, or missed the left at the "Y" split to Clouds Rest.

Take a really bright headlamp and use it where the trail becomes so wide you won't be sure which way it actually goes.

Edit: Since it is your first time, here is a good way to familiarize yourselves with the trail: Get HikeAlong Pete's DVD set of the Half Dome trail hike. It goes up the mist trail rather than the JMT so that part is different, but once it re-joins above Nevada Fall, it would show you in daylight what to expect at night. And the rough, broken trail between Happy Isles and the first bridge has been repaved, so it is much nicer now. Here's the link: ALP - TrailVista



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/15/2012 09:16AM by SteveC.
avatar Re: Half Dome Hike
March 15, 2012 10:51AM
Quote
SteveC
so you need to study it VERY carefully, so you know where there are junctions. I'd hate to hear you missed the turn where it heads north out of little Yosemite Valley, or missed the left at the "Y" split to Clouds Rest.

A good hiking GPS will tell you exactly where you are, although trees can diminsh a signal (less so if the GPS has a high-sensitivity receiver). I love my Garmin Legend.
http://hikinggpsinfo.com/hiking-gps-reviews/
You can save your data to your computer and view it in Google Earth when you're done, and if you want to get sophisticated, you could even plot your route (or waypoints) before you go, upload it to the device, and use it to help find your way.
Don't wait until the big day to try it for the first time - practice at home first!
Could maybe borrow one from a local hiking club.
avatar Re: Half Dome Hike
March 15, 2012 08:55PM
I seldom turn on the GPS until top of Nevada... it's just too squirrely before then...
So as much as I love GPS... I wouldn't tell someone hiking Half a Dome to rely on it.
If they need it before Nevada it may just frustrate / confuse them more if they
are unfamiliar with it's magic.
Chick-on is looking at you!



Chick-on is looking at you!
Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.

Click here to login