18 miles round trip; 12 hours total
My friend Stephen was able to secure permits to hike Half Dome in Yosemite in September 2013. You may remember that the now famous “Rim Fire” was raging wild during that time. All of the reports showed winds blowing away from Yosemite Valley, so we drove north and hoped for the best. When we arrived, we couldn’t see 50 ft in front of us.
(Photo below taken at Inspiration Point, one of the most picturesque views of Yosemite valley…what a view!)
We contemplated turning around but the group’s adventurous spirit wanted to press on. How many people get to hike Half Dome in a forest fire right?!
We set up camp at Upper Pines campground and got to bed early. 4:45am wake-up call to hike 18 miles round trip and 4,800 feet of elevation gain would come early!
Hiking via headlamp and watching the sunrise on the trail one was of the highlights of the day!
We hiked the Mist Trail up and a few of us took the John Muir trail back down to avoid the steep steps near Vernal falls.
The smoke was thick, but there were fellow hikers on the route along the way and it was actually really nice to have very little wait at the popular cables!
Here are a few tips to hiking Half-Dome:
- Water water water. We took about 3-Liters each and all ran out by the time we got to the bottom
- Invest in really good hiking shoes. Your feet will thank you.
- Bring snacks. We stopped every hour or so for a break (breakfast burritos for the win)
- Bring some gloves for the cables. If you happen to forget them, there is a pile of gloves at the bottom of the cables from fellow hikers.
- Dress in layers. It was nice to have long-sleeves for the early morning, but by mile 3 or 4 we were all down to tank tops and shorts.
- Take your time. Enjoy the scenery. It’s a tough hike, but beautiful. Enjoy it!
By Monday morning the smoke had cleared and we could see Inspiration Point! Amazing!
Half Dome Elevation: 8,842 ft
Total Elevation Gain: 4,800 ft
Total miles hiked: 18 miles
Time: 12 hours