Before we start the blog – WE CLIMBED THE CABLE WAY AND SUMMITTED THE HALF DOME!!
Ok, so we had a beautiful drive into Yosemite, with great views of all the peaks and down into the valley.
The view over Yosemite valley, with the Half Dome in the distance
Once in the valley we hit all the information and wilderness offices to arrange the required permits to go backcountry hiking and camping for the next few days. Thankfully we managed to arrange a permit that would also allow us to climb the Half Dome, otherwise we would have to enter a lottery as there are only so many permits issued per day. Once we had all of our permits in hand we headed to the campground reservation office to arrange a site for the night. The ranger there was nice enough to let us know that everything in the valley was 100% full, so our only option was to sleep in our tent at a walk in only site. We weren’t keen for an extra night in the tent, but the only other option was to drive out of the valley again (at least an hours drive). As we were about to leave the ranger mentioned that we could put our names on a list, in the hope that we might get a site from a cancellation or no-show, but that the list already had 35 names, so would probably be a waste of time for us… Yippee, we were the second last to get a site! This was great because we really needed to get organized for our next 2 nights in the wilderness.
The next morning, Saturday, we emptied Ginger of all bear enticing food (everything!) and put it in the numerous bear bins around the trailhead parking lot. They show you lots of pictures of bears that tore through cars to get to food! The bears just peel the door from the the top of the window like a tin of sardines. We were pretty sure we’d be OK but wanted to make sure Ginger was safe while we were away.
We started trekking straight uphill for the next few hours with our packs. We thought we were making great progress until we got to a sign that said 8.4 MILES (not kms!) still to go to Merced Lake – and this was after already climbing for 3 hours! We didn’t make it to Merced Lake where we were to camp until 6pm, and were both dirty and completely pooped. When we double checked the map we had hiked 20km and climbed well over a 1,000 metres. We managed a wash in the freezing creek and a decent pasta dinner before flopping into bed. Despite the tough day it was a beautiful walk through steep sided glacier carved canyons with beautiful waterfalls and streams.
The valley we hiked up
Dave with pack on
Christine enjoying breakfast
Hiking back down the valley
We had a slower morning the next day and decided to go back the same way we came as the rivers on the other side of the loop we had planned were all dried up. No water to drink is not so cool. We had a really nice leisurely walk back to the bottom of the big Half Dome hike that we were anticipating so much for the next day. We had a wash, dinner and then hung out by the communal campfire and met some really friendly and interesting fellow hikers. Especially the entertaining Wisconsin guys!
Chilling at the camp site
We were up pretty early on Monday to start our ascent of the famous Half Dome.
Great views on the way up
Dave – still climbing
We made it to the bottom of the really steep cable climb by about 10:30 (after an introductory steep and scary part).
The view up to Half Dome on the way up
Zoomed in on the ‘U’ you can just see the climbers on the cable way
After watching some others start the climb and then give up we both decided that we were happy not to go to the top and chickened out. Too freakin steep and scary!
Looking at the cable way
After an early lunch and observing the cables we both reconsidered and found ourselves at the bottom scrummaging through all the discarded gloves looking for a pair that would do. After we fitted ourselves out we started the steep and horrifying ascent, almost straight up (well it felt like it!). Slowly, slowly we pulled ourselves up and eventually made it to the fantastic and well worth it summit.
Christine coming up to the top
Looking back down the cables
Great views over the valley
Christine on top of the dome
The obligatory couple photo
Great views from the top
After all the photo ops were exhausted we started climbing down, which Christine thought was much more frightening than going up. Dave helped guide Christine down as did the many fellow climbers who could sense that she was a having a bit of a freak out.
Christine on the way down
But all is well that ends well and we both made it down safely!
VERY happy to be down
Except we still had 5+ hours of hiking down to do. It was another very long day, but we were thrilled to see Ginger, not bear scarred, and looking like a palace. So happy that we had reserved ahead at one of the busy Valley campsites, and that we could finally take a hot shower again.
Tuesday we were up early and on the road to the north eastern part of Yosemite – Tuolumne Meadows. Ginger climbed like a champion to a new all time high of 2700m and we got a nice campsite. We took it easy exploring by bike the flat meadows and river area. Then we vegged out at the campsite, wrote this blog, drank some wine and rested our poor feet. A great day!
Christine on Tuolumne Meadows
Dave – just standing
Christine – just standing
Dave very happy to be finished hiking!