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View Full Version : Finally.... Half Dome CONQUERED! (Part 1) (Lots of pics!)



BlueDog
06-12-2009, 11:26 AM
Some of you have seen a preview on my Facebook page, some may remember me mentioning it here on the forums. But here, in mini-series form, is my report back on my trip to Yosemite National Park...

SATURDAY:

Buddy of mine and I flew out to SFO on Saturday the 31st. A very nice flight on Virgin America (now with wi-fi service on ALL flights). I always prefer to sit by the window, since I'm still like a kid on a family trip in that I can't stop starring out the window because I might miss something. My buddy, Ross, always sits on the isle (tall guy, long legs and all). This made for a long flight for the poor soul that sat between us as we talked most of the way about what we were hoping to see and climb when we got to the park.

Upon landing in SFO, a friend that lives nearby picks us up. He's decided to join us for the first leg of the trek and climb Half Dome with us. Famished, we jet off to his favorite local Dim Sum joint and fill him in on the plans and what he can expect.

Later, we go to his place to sort out all our gear and figure out what last minute supplies are needed from the local REI. After a run and dinner, we pack out backpacks and get the truck he's lending us loaded up so we can head on out first thing in the morning.

DAY 1
If you've never been to Yosemite, one of the first things you might notice is that the "Miles to ..." signs on the 3 hour drive there seem to be giving mixed messages. It seems, some give the mileage to the park boundary, other to the main visitor center of the park.

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Once you hit the park entrance, you will then be surprised that its another 25 miles down to Yosemite Valley where the center of action is. This trip takes well over an hour, as the speed limit is 25 mph, but you can't help but stop at every pull off to take in the ever changing and expanding landscape!

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At one stop, we were so excited to be in the park, seeing all the waterfalls, granite formations, rivers, we couldn't help but stop and play on the rock in a small run-off.

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Entering the Valley you can't help but stand in awe of El Capitan (with Horsetail Fall in full flow). Many of the waterfalls slow down to a trickle in the height of summer. With the help of some of the Obs here, I was able to figure out the best time to see the water in full and little chance of foul weather.

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Yosemite Falls was spectacular to see in full flow as well. (Upper Yosemite Fall pictured here.)

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After a while we had to force ourselves from continuing to stop and look as we needed to get to the Wilderness office to check in and pick up our permit, and that we would be seeing plenty more once we were on the trail.

When picking up the permit, the weather forecast looked a little sketchy, but we weren't gonna let that deter us. We reviewed our plans with the Park Ranger and he let us know that the later part of our plans were going to take us through a lot of snow and trails of running water. The last advice he gave us was to be aware that we were going to need to do a water crossing.

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Over to the backpacker parking lot, we get gear out, last minute checks, start up the GPS and mark the waypoint.

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And we're off! Today's plan: Vernal Falls, Nevada Fall via the Mist Trail, and then connect to the John Muir Trail to get to Little Yosemite Campground.O

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After a little bit of a warm up, getting used to a 45 lbs pack, straps adjusted, fiddling with figuring the best length for the trekking poles, we get our first good glimpse of Vernal Falls.

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A little further up, we cross a footbridge over the Merced River, which is really raging.

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Closer and closer to the falls we crawl. The trail is well maintained and well traveled, and still simply amazing with ever twist and turn. As this point, the mist is starting to get heavy enough to break out the rain gear and pack covers.

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Finally, we get through the wet and rewarded with an upclose and personal view of Vernal Falls.

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The trail continues up the headwall to get to the top of the falls.

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Once at the top, we take our first much need break to set our packs down, remove rain gear and grab a snack.

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The Mist Trail can be seen rising up along the left side of the river.

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Enough slacking... back on the trail!

I was continually struck by the enormity and beauty of the trees in the area. Enough so that I could no longer restrain the inner tree-hugger in me!

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The trail up to Nevada Falls is rocky, but still very well maintained.

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A lizard came out to sun on a rock (species I've yet to identify).

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Just a quick break to climb on the rocks and pose for pics once we reached Nevada Falls.

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At the top, we reach the intersection with the John Muir trail (and alternate route around the falls). This is one of the points where the many of the day (tourist) hikers run out of gas and turn around to head back to the valley and they hotel rooms. :X

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Of course, our destination for the day was still further ahead.

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Due to "hikers" feeding the wildlife, the local squirrels are very bold. I witnessed one chewing on a carelessly unattended pack to get at some snacks.

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About 4pm, we finally arrive at Little Yosemite Campground.

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The campground is very well set up with level tent areas, "tables and chairs" cut from fallen trees for each site, and food storage boxes available to store all your stinky stuff.

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Mmmmm... Dinner!

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The campground has a nice sunset view of Mt Starr King to the west...

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And backside of tomorrows destination to the east...

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End of Day 1 ... time for rest!

CHRIS
06-12-2009, 11:42 AM
Absolutely an amazing journey. I envy you and would love to some day get a chance to do that. Your picures are amazing and Blue looks really happy to. Thanks for taking the time to share with us and I am eagerly waiting for part 2.

mojonh
06-12-2009, 01:28 PM
NICE! I did Half Dome last summer as a day hike in late September. The falls were a trickle and Yosemite Falls were dry. It's cool to see the pics of them in their full splendor (I did the mist trail when I was really young as well and do remember it actually being misty though).

Can't wait for part 2, and the cables :eek:

I'm going back out there this fall and plan on doing Clouds Rest as I hear the views rival that of Half Dome.

Congrats!

Jimmy Legs and Little d
06-12-2009, 02:48 PM
Erich,
This is one terrific report and your pictures are first class. From what I can recall from our trip to Yosemite 20 years ago, it does seem as if you are driving forever to reach your destination.

Did you come across any interesting cairns on your hikes?

Also, eagerly awaiting your next installment.

Donna

BlueDog
06-12-2009, 03:24 PM
NICE! I did Half Dome last summer as a day hike in late September. The falls were a trickle and Yosemite Falls were dry. It's cool to see the pics of them in their full splendor (I did the mist trail when I was really young as well and do remember it actually being misty though).

Can't wait for part 2, and the cables :eek:

I'm going back out there this fall and plan on doing Clouds Rest as I hear the views rival that of Half Dome.

Congrats!

You'll really like Day 3 then! Half Dome is must do for the life checklist, the challenge and such. But, now that I've done both, Cloud's Rest is a religious experience in comparison!


Erich,
This is one terrific report and your pictures are first class. From what I can recall from our trip to Yosemite 20 years ago, it does seem as if you are driving forever to reach your destination.

Did you come across any interesting cairns on your hikes?

Also, eagerly awaiting your next installment.

Donna

Thanks! Interestingly enough... it took me three days to figure out their very subtle trail blaze system, which I really depended on in the third day, but, other than on top of Half Dome, I don't recall any other cairns.

NOTE: I see flickr is having some issues with some of the pics. For these pics and many more of day 1.. click here. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/thebluedog/sets/72157619325978847/)
Also... if you have iTunes and broadband, here's my first video podcast (http://www.follylane.org/podcast/) attempt. (File is 110MB. Please right click, save as...)

mtruman
06-12-2009, 04:07 PM
Fantastic TR Erich. Can't wait for parts 2 thru N... Already starting to make mental plans for next summer (which will hopefully turn into concrete plans soon).

BlueDog
06-12-2009, 05:18 PM
Let me know if you need a "trail guide!" :)

Tim&Val
06-12-2009, 09:50 PM
Hi Erich! Just gorgeous pictures! I really enjoyed them - the waterfalls are spectacular. I hope this hasn't ruined you for the Whites!

Valerie

BlueDog
06-12-2009, 11:57 PM
Thanks Val! No worries, my heart will always be in the Whites, and I'm sure there is much more that they haven't show me that is still beauty to be seen.