Monday, June 28, 2010

Half Dome Conquered!

If asked how I would sum up my experience hiking Half Dome, I would respond, "Longest day of my life!" The day after could then be described as "Most painful day of my life (thus far - I imagine child labor will be up there...)."

I decided to head into Half Dome with the "ignorance is bliss" approach. And to be honest, I think it was a great idea! I knew about how many miles it was, that it involved some stairs (turned out to be much more than I thought), that I would have to use some cables to climb the last part (which I didn't plan on doing), and that it would take around 14 hours.

So, I packed my backpack with lots of water and gatorade, threw in some pb&j's and trail mix, and I figured I was good to go. Jason asked me the day before I was left if I was mentally ready? I shrugged my shoulders and said, "Sure." No big deal, right? (I think the whole me not training bit made him a little nervous. I figured, once an athlete, always an athlete...)

Well, after our 3:30am wake-up call, our 4:15am departure, and our 1.5 hour drive from the cabin to our starting point, we finally hit the the trail around 6:30am. We started at Glacier point and took the Panorama Trail. We made it to Nevada Falls at about 9am (which was almost 5 miles in). We had another 4.5 miles to hike before he hit Half Dome.

The Half Dome Hikers!

Some sights along the way

Our group of 15 split up during this route of the trip, and we were now in groups of 4-5. The trek from Nevada Falls to Half Dome was much more steep, but it wasn't too bad. A little after Nevada Falls, we hit some small stairs (maybe just a few inches high). I stupidly remarked, "I wonder if these are the stairs that everyone talks about...?" I quickly was laughed at by a guy hiking down, who while laughing, said very clearly, "No." A few miles later I would understand why my question was so stupid. Here's why...

These are the stairs you have to climb to get to the top of the sub dome, which is where the cables start. Now, a few of these stairs don't look too bad, but try climbing over 600 hundred of them (after you just hiked almost 9 miles), and it is tough! Definitely was the most strenuous part of the hike! But we did it, and the first group of us made it to the top of the sub dome at about 11:45.

After climbing all of those steps, I was now determined to do the cables. I was not going to get this far and then quit. Despite my mild fear of heights, I pushed though and climbed the cables. The frustrating part was that we had to wait in line for over an hour to simply start climbing the cables and because they were so congested, it took us about 30-45 minutes to climb the 400 feet up them.

The Ascent up Half Dome

I made it!

The view at the top of Half Dome was nice (but not much different than that from the sub dome). We spent about an hour up top looking around and taking pictures. The descent down the cables was another long wait of about 45 minutes and a 30 minute climb down.

By now it was almost 4:30, so we hauled down the trail. We took the John Muir Trail (about 8 miles), and were finished at about 8:30.

So, start to finish, here are the stats:

Total distance: 18 miles
Total elevation: 4,796 feet
Total Stairs: Over 600
Total Time: 14 hours (cables took a long time).

We didn't end up getting back to the cabin until 12:30am due to having to go get our cars at Glacier Point (an hour away from where we ended). But we eventually all got showers and food in our bodies, and crashed after being up for almost 24 hours! What a day!

1 comment:

Tegan Aubrie said...

Oh my goodness...

Kind of wish I hadn't read that! Lol!