Half Dome: Conquered.
Since I was in Yosemite 2 years ago with my family, I knew that Half Dome was a hike that I wanted to complete.
For any semi-serious hiker, or anyone who has set foot in Yosemite, Half Dome is an outdoorsman’s/woman’s mecca. It stands at 8,839′ above sea level, and looms nearly 5,000′ above the Yosemite valley floor. It looks exactly as its name describes it – a half dome. Hiking it involves going up some fairly steep trails, climbing many steps, some of it on the side of a very dicey sub-Dome, before doing the infamous “Cables.”
For your average Joe, this hike is “doable,” but will pretty much push you to your limits, both physically and mentally. I guess if you’re a superhuman, this is child’s play. But I’m not superhuman. Shocking. I know.
So to spare you all of the details from the hike, here’s a recap:
I woke up at the buttcrack of dawn (which everybody knows to be 4am, obviously), packed up my campsite, and went to the trailhead. As I was getting all my stuff ready (Headlamp: check. Granola bars: check. Camelbak: check. Water filter: check. First aid kit: Check. Sanity: …..), I heard some guys in the parking lot saying, “I can’t believe you guys talked me into this! I’m too young to die!” So I knew that was the group that I needed to hike with. We followed the light of our headlamps for the first 2 hours, as we hiked along side some steep waterfalls that threatened us as it was only heard, and never seen. As we got closer to the summit, I went ahead of Team Testosterone (the group of 12 men, mostly age 50+), and hiked up some scary ass rocks to make it to “The Dome.”
The Dome is terrifying. You’re already up on top of the sub-Dome at that point, and slipping on the granite rock can mean rolling off into the abyss. Ouch.
When I saw “The Cables” though – two metal ropes running up the length of Half Dome, I nearly peed in my pants. These days, I don’t get nervous too easily. But I literally had to pep talk myself (aloud) into hiking up this slippery granite slab of rock, with the grade of the dome at 60 degrees in certain areas. Sixty degrees doesn’t sound to crazy. But let me tell you. It is.
Luckily, I had befriended a fellow hiker who was celebrating his 50th birthday by hiking Half Dome, and he encouraged me to make my way onto the ropes. By the time I was pulling myself up the cables, my heart was racing, but I somehow managed to pull myself up the cables, using basically every last ounce of energy left in me. And then, I summitted! Within 15 minutes, I was at the top of Half Dome!
I walked around a little bit, scooted (on my butt) to the edge of the “Diving Board” – slabs of granite that hang off over the Dome, nearly causing me to pee in my pants yet again, and had my picture taken.
Then I just sat and soaked it in for a bit before descending the cables. This time, I was hiking back down with two hikers that I had met at the top. But having hiking company doesn’t do much when you feel like you’re perpendicular, face-down, going down a rock. Luckily, we made it off of Half Dome, and several hours later, we made it to the bottom.
We celebrated completing, and surviving, the hike with a delicious celebratory dinner where about 100,000,000 calories were inhaled in a very short period of time.
Unfortunately, that seem evening, I found out about the stupid government shut down situation, as well. I didn’t think the government would actually shut down. But apparently it was going to. Perfect. So after being given 48 hours to make alternative plans, I shot off some texts to friends out West, and I was able to make my way to LA, and later today I’m headed to Arizona. Not too shabby.
I’m really disappointed that I may not get to see all the places that I had planned for, but catching up with friends is not a bad second. And I’m really grateful for the fact that I got to climb Half Dome on the day before the shut down. As I was leaving the park, they had already barricaded off trailheads and parking lots. Happy 123rd Birthday, Yosemite! We’re shutting you down!!
Anyways, my plans for the next few weeks are a little bit less concrete than I would like them to be. But I’m still keeping my fingers crossed that the government (ie certain people in the House) get their sh*t together.
At least, for the time being, I can say that I survived Half Dome. Not a bad way to celebrate surviving the first half of my road trip :)
Well, until next time, kids.
Peace and love,