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Re: Hike Half Dome

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Hike Half Dome
September 03, 2014 01:05AM
Half Dome - I plan on hiking up the Half dome and this will be my birthday present to myself. I want to know if I shd take a guided tour. I have not hiked half dome before or anything like it and want some input. I am planning to hike / apply for permit in a month. Anyone going around last week in Sep , first week in October ?

Re: Hike Half Dome
September 03, 2014 05:40AM
You do not need a guide for the trail to the top of Half Dome. You do need to be in good physical condition, and you need to take plenty of water and food. And if the weather look bad, you need to bail.

But the trail itself is almost impossible to miss--and there will be plenty of other people heading in the same direction.

On the other hand, you sound a bit worried about the trip. You might consider the hike to CLouds Rest instead. It's a couple of miles shorter (from Tenaya Lake) and involved less pure up and down. And when you get there,. the views are better than those at Half Dome. You can still see Yosemite Valley, but you can also see most of the Sierra Crest...and you are looking down on the people who are on top of Half Dome.

Check our our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
Or just read a good mystery novel set in the Sierra; https://www.amazon.com/Danger-Falling-Rocks-Paul-Wagner/dp/0984884963
Re: Hike Half Dome
September 03, 2014 12:30PM
You should probably start hiking, in the shoes you intend to wear, and learn how to hydrate and manage sun exposure. Hiking 16 miles in a day with tons of steps (there are lots of those on the Mist Trail) isn't something you should just get off the couch and go do. Gym time and so forth helps but is not the total solution - hiking is best prepared for by hiking.

REI has a Learn section with a bunch of articles on hiking to get you started. And there are good articles on backpacking.net. You can also find a short book on hiking Half Dome at amazon.com - it would help a novice prepare for the trip well enough.
Re: Hike Half Dome
September 03, 2014 06:14PM
[1st post on this forum] Went up to Half Dome on 8-15-14 (got permit thru the March lottery - no one was checking permits, but you never know) with my daughter. 5th time for me; 2nd time for my daughter. Usually I take the John Muir trail - it's longer than the mist trail, but seems to have less energy expenditure since the steps on the mist trail are steep and usually wet, requiring more energy and focus . This time we went up the mist trail to the right of Vernal Fall to reduce the distance about 1/2 a mile because I thought there wouldn't be any mist and that the steps would be dry - this was the case. It's likely you would experience the same dryness on the mist trail for your hike (barring a snow storm or torrential downpour). From Vernal we went to Clark Point to hookup with the John Muir trail, which was only about .3 mile longer than continuing up the Mist trail to the left of Nevada Fall; the concern was the additional energy that would be expended by continuing on the steep Mist trail.

A short distance beyond Nevada Fall on the way up to Half Dome, my daughter began experiencing heat and dehydration issues. We rested, she drank water, and she drank water frequently as we slowly continued upward. I was prepared to turn around if she didn't get better soon. Within 1/2 a mile, her issues disappeared, and she exhibited a substantial amount of energy which then made it difficult for me to keep up with her (for a while). Because of our late start at Happy Isles (7am) and frequent rest stops, it was 3:30pm when we arrived at the base of the subdome. We did have headlamps and extra batteries (and still had a substantial amount of water - we started with 9 liters among the 3 of us, including my wife, who was not going to go beyond the subdome). I told my daughter that if we continue over the subdome and onto the top of Half Dome, it will be dark for some of our hike back to Happy Isles. That was ok with her. The subdome was easier than I expected, but going up the cables was challenging - I really felt gravity pushing down on me. A cloudless sky with very little wind and mild temps made for great condtions navigating the subdome and cables. We didn't feel any chill on top of half dome; we stayed in short sleeves. We only saw 2 other people on top of Half Dome, an almost creepy contrast from the many people on top during prior trips. Going down the cables and the subdome was easier and faster than I expected. Except for going up and down the cables, we used trekking poles for the entire hike. When going up the subdome, we shortened the poles because of the high rise of many of the steps.

We were in darkness starting about 1/4 mile before reaching the Vernal Fall bridge. The paved trail after the bridge is pretty smooth, and we had no issues getting down, having arrived at Happy Isles at about 9:15pm. Roundtrip distance about 16 miles.

Suggestions and notes:

Book: One Best Hike, Yosemite's Half Dome, by Rick Deutsch. Many reviews on Amazon.

There is tasty clean cool water at the fountain at the Vernal Fall bridge.

Carry headlamps and extra batteries. You may even use the headlamps at the start of the hike if you begin by 5:30am when hiking in Sep.

Not too warm of a day, carry 3 liters of water; warm day, 4 liters. If you have a water filter, bring it for filling at the Merced River at Nevada Fall and into Little Yosemite Valley.

Shoes: hiking boots or real good trail runners. If the shoes are new or haven't been used on steep trails, try them out first on another trail. Hiking to Nevada Fall and back would be a good test, especially since you said you've never hiked anything like it (Half Dome). And another reason to do some less strenuous hikes before tackling Half Dome is to acclimate to the altitude. We hiked several days prior to going up Half Dome, and that included a hike to Mono Pass (over 10,000 feet in elevation) from the Tioga Road.

Gloves for going up and down the Half Dome cables. The gloves should have good leather or rubberized grips - don't use plain garden gloves. Also, don't rely on gloves that may have been left at the base of the cables. I brought 2 pairs of gloves: bicycle style gloves (fingerless) for using with the trekking poles to add comfort to the grip and to prevent blisters, and gloves with rubberized grips for the cables.

I like to have an energy bar during the hike, but I typically eat no more than 1/4 of the bar at a time to reduce the chance of feeling bloated.

If you feel dizzy or nauseous, rest and drink water. Perhaps eat food if you haven't done so for a while. When you start hiking again, if you feel worse, you might have altitude sickness. Then you should go back down. Do a search on altitude sickness to see the symptoms.

On the subdome and Half Dome, focus focus focus. If you want to look around, come to a complete stop before viewing the scenery.

Manisha, have fun and good luck.
avatar Re: Hike Half Dome
September 03, 2014 07:52PM
Well said, euler! I would only add that there will be plenty of others on the trail. It's amazing to me how total strangers often bond together when doing something like the Half Dome hike.
avatar Re: Hike Half Dome
September 05, 2014 01:59PM
Bring a pair of lightweight grippy gloves, like the the throwaway nitrile gloves you can find at Home Depot and such for a few bucks.

Also bring a water filter or purifier so that you don't have to carry the entire day's water from the start, you then can carry less and re-fill along the way.
Re: Hike Half Dome
September 23, 2014 02:15PM
Folks , Just wanted to update that I did the Half Dome in a day yesterday with Lasting Advintures. It was a surreal experience. It was jsut out of this world. We left at 6 am and got back around 6.30 pm. I just had a fantastic time and it was the best birthday present I have givev myself. Thanks for all the inputs and suggestions provided to me by you all.
avatar Re: Hike Half Dome
September 23, 2014 06:39PM
Folks , Just wanted to update that I did the Half Dome in a day yesterday with Lasting Advintures. It was a surreal experience. It was jsut out of this world. We left at 6 am and got back around 6.30 pm. I just had a fantastic time and it was the best birthday present I have givev myself. Thanks for all the inputs and suggestions provided to me by you all.

Good job. Now change your profile.

Old Dude
Re: Hike Half Dome
September 25, 2014 08:44AM
Happy Birthday and what a great way to celebrate it! I'm completely in favor of a great "birthday hike"! smiling smiley
avatar Re: Hike Half Dome
September 23, 2014 03:15PM
Congratulations! And Happy Birthday!
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