If you talked to me before this trip, you know I was dead set on standing a top Half Dome. It was going to be the highlight of my trip. Our hike to Half Dome was one of the most physically and mentally challenging things I have ever done in my life. I knew what to expect when we got up to Half Dome, the cables. Those cables had been in my nightmares for weeks…what I did not expect was everything leading up to the cables.
Our morning started at 4:30 AM, thankfully we did not have to break camp, we all tried to eat a little breakfast and we hit the trail. Staying at Little Yosemite Valley gave us quite the advantage, the hikers we passed on the trail had started down in the Valley and had already hiked the Mist Trail to get to this point (there is NO way I would’ve made it from the valley floor).
The hike started off tough, and just got tougher. It didn’t help that my brothers were BOOKING it along the trail and I was struggling to keep up…seriously remind me to get in better shape before our next trip. Our guide Don was kind enough to take it slow with me. The closer we got, the more intimidated I began feeling…
At this point I was DEAD tired and starting to get grumpy…I had been tear free on the backpacking trip but today was the day the tears fell freely. IT WAS HARD. I knew it would be, but you secretly hope it won’t be as challenging. Looking back on it now, I think the challenge is part of the appeal of backpacking. This was also the point where I thought we had made it…but boy was I wrong.
Things were just about to get a HELL of a lot harder. We had made it to Sub Dome…also known as the HELL before Half Dome. The whole way up I kept wondering why no one ever talks about Sub Dome…
At first Sub Dome consists of “stairs” climbing up to Half Dome. Then the stairs disappear and you are left to scramble up the granite (without cables). This was where the mental challenge began for me. I am absolutely terrified of heights, so scrambling up slippery granite with the entire world below me was absolutely terrifying.
We finally made it to the top of Sub Dome, and right before our eyes was Half Dome. The last 400 feet starring us down. The panic started soon before seeing the cables, it started back on Sub Dome, and continued running through my mind. Watching people struggle down the cables was not helping either. I am sad to say I let my fear win that day. I sat with my brother Matt and watched the rest of our group climb to the top of Half Dome. Our guide Don told us if you have any fear, it is not worth going up and panicking. Still…missing out on this killed me. I had just hiked so far and to not make the last 400 steps was heartbreaking.
One of the perks of starting so early, is there was barely anybody climbing Half Dome when we got there. As Matt and I waited for the group to return we met lots of interesting people. One girl told me the first time she came, she chickened out! She returned and did climbed to the top giving me hope that I would one day return and summit Half Dome.
Hiking back down was an adventure in and of its self. We kept running into people trying to reach Half Dome. The trails definitely got more crowded as the day progressed…storms clouds began rolling in and I knew many of these people would make it to Sub Dome and not be able to summit Half Dome (you aren’t supposed to be on the domes during storms because of lightning). I also couldn’t believe the number of people hiking to Half Dome with small children…like toddlers.
my favorite view from our campsite! Sunset with Half Dome
We ran out of water on our way down, so the moment we made it to camp we RAN to the river. It was nice to be back in camp and lounge around for a while. John was hiking up to meet us and make us a REAL dinner…and by a real dinner I mean something that was not freeze dried.
AND JOHN BROUGHT US BOXED WINE! I have never been so happy to drink wine from a box in my ENTIRE life. It was the perfect way to spend our last night in Little Yosemite Valley.
Stay tuned for ONE last post on our Backpacking Adventure in Yosemite!!