Homo proponit, sed Deus disponit (Man proposes, but God disposes)~ The Imitation of Christ
Certainly the phrase stands so true, as I witnessed last couple of years. After the last big trek to EBC, myself, Nitesh and fellow TrekNomader, Naveen decided to go on a trip to Kilimanjaro and Chadar trek. However Covid ruined the plan. We almost lost two years, and in due course a lot changed. I moved out of India to California, and started a new chapter of life in the States. New place, new people but one thing remained same – hitting the hills agains.
As I was settling in to new place, I met Hanmanth over a local hiking group. And got to know that he had a permit to Half dome. Since half dome was in my todo bucket, we instantly connected. [Note: Hike to Home dome requires permit, visit https://www.recreation.gov/permits/234652 for more info on permit)
– as I would call him. I was lucky to find him to get into hiking so quickly.
The trek to Half dome is quite strenuous and is definitely not for beginners. It is quite challenging but the trail is quite beautiful as it goes through the picturesque Yosemite. The perks of trail include closer view of Vernal and Nevada falls and Mule Deers as you walk through shady Sequoia trees.
The following map available at Yosemite Hike, webpage shows the different trail routes to Halfdome.
We followed the following trail points.
Start of the trail at 4:30 in Morning
Start via Mist Trail
Base of subdome
Stop at Merced river to refill water and refresh
Back via John Muir Trail
Stay at Curry Village
The stay was in Canvas Tent cabin of Curry Village. It’s the closest place, one can get near the trailhead. These cabins do have shared bathrooms and each cabin had four beds. [Note: For digitally engaged visitors, there won’t be any WiFi in the cabins, nor will be any charging points. The common area has a wifi].
Despite, the place being crowded, checkin process was smooth and quick. Each cabin comes with a bear locker, for food. The guy at reception will forewarn the visitors, not to leave any eatables in the car or cabin as it may invite the bear.
The place has quite a few eating joints. For the vegetarian hikers, Pizza deck has couple of no-meat pizzas.
As we strolled around after dinner, we found the clear sky presented a nice view of stars.
As planned, we started around 4:30 in the morning for the trail head. We crossed the trail head while the guiding star was still up in the sky.
A glimpse of early morning trail:
Around 3 miles, one can witness the majestic Vernal Falls crashing on the rocks below. Water as it falls, creates mist, which probably could be the reason behind the name “Mist Trail”.
First view of Vernal fall
As we climbed up to the Vernal fall, to Emerald Pool, we had a small break to appreciate the beauty of Yosemite, and off course, to smile for the camera.
Next pit stop was the Nevada falls, which is equally beautiful.
Slightly further, Mist Trail joins the John Muir trail. In the entire trail from here till sub dome, beautiful ancient Sequoias will be your companion ( along with mosquitos so do carry mosquito repellant ). We were lucky to witness a couple of mule deer in their natural habitat.
At Little Yosemite, you will get a notice for the last water resource. If you are running low on water, take the small detour to Merced river. The sign there says, filtration of water is recommended.
As we get out of the woods, we can see sub dome and half dome ahead of us.
Finally we reached to the start of the domes – sub dome and the half dome. The ranger at the base of sub dome will check for the ID and permit, with small set of instructions that include:
- Keep all the loose items inside the bag.
- Save the bag and food from squirrels.
- The start of sub dome is the last area with privacy. So if anyone wants to attend to nature’s call in the wood, that is the place.
- Take out your gloves and be ready.
Climb from here via sub dome and then to half dome, will require fairly good amount of fitness.
A small glimpse of sub dome climb
After sub dome comes the final cable climb to half dome. The cable climb is indeed a tough one. The incline at some places is around 60degree. There are some wooden planks put up between poles to provide support from slipping. However, those planks are missing where rocks are not in line.
Surface is slippery and one need to have good hiking shoes and make sure that they are not worn off. A pair of good gloves is a must. On cable Hanmanth said,
“.. at cables we don’t use legs much, mainly we are using upper body to pull up. Stronger the upper body, easier we climb cables.
About climbing harness: depending on whom you ask about horness, answer will be different.
Regular hikers with strong fitness may feel harness are not needed.
Budding hiker, borderline upper body fitness, who are scared of heights may feel harness very useful. It takes time to clip and unclip, but due to heavy traffic anyhow we stand at pole for at least 1 min.”
And finally the thrill to reach to the top of the dome.
Thanks to Hanmanth, team had a Laddu celebrations after descending from the dome
On way back, we had a small refreshing stop at Merced river. Refilled our bottles and allowed the cold Merced water to take away our tiredness with the stream.
On the return, we came via John Muir trail. Needless to mention, the route is equally captivating and breathtaking. We get another view of Nvada fall
As we reach close to the trail head for the trip back from Yosemite, I sit and ponder. Every part of the hike was the experience. Starting hike at 430 in the morning, walking along the Merced river, birds chirping, river sound, looking at the stars in clear sky, watching waterfalls early in the morning, when you are at the dome, you can see the magic of the creator, sitting in Merced river cold, clean water, walking along John Muir trail , no words to describe , just experience it.
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