Friday, July 17, 2015

Day 2: Half Dome

Day 2 was all about anxiety for me. My anxiety could be summed up in two words: "The Cables." Quite frankly, as a result, I couldn't even enjoy the trail. I'm glad it's all over, but I swear, I am never going up Half Dome again. Also, I can't imagine day hiking it. The hike to Half Dome from the valley was a beast, to say nothing of actually climbing up it.

There are two other words that soon became a factor in my day too: "Sub Dome." What? Nobody told me anything about a sub dome. Or that getting up it means going up stone stairs, kind of like those at the top of Vernal Falls. I found that out about 2 miles before I reached the sub dome, and now I had a second thing to freak out about. Because I knew I had 2700 feet of elevation gain that day, and I also knew how much of it was left to go. The less of it I hiked up gradually on the trail, the more of it would have to be straight up vertical once I hit the sub dome and the cables.

Here are a few photos from the hike from Little Yosemite to Half Dome.

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Western Tiger Swallowtail

Live Tree with Hole In It
Crazy burnt tree. It has a hole in the trunk, and yet it was still alive.

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A legume... I'm guessing some type of vetch

Lizard
Fence Lizard

This next shot is interesting. I noticed an area with a lot of young trees, all about the same height, and very few older trees. This indicates a big disturbance in the forest that occurred at one time. Odds are it wasn't logging since it's in a national park (and there were no stumps). I assumed there was a fire, but could not find burn marks. The other option was a wind storm. Could the wind really blow down so many enormous, mature trees? A week or so later, I heard from someone on the trail that there were hurricane force winds in the Sierras, including Yosemite, a few years ago. A lot of trees went down then. If that's true, then odds are that's what happened here.

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At last, Half Dome came into view. Briefly.

Half Dome
The first view of Half Dome

Then it went out of view. Here's what I saw instead:

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And... it came back into view. Directly ahead of me this time.

Half Dome

Another little guy plotting to get the tourists' food:

Vicious Beast

Finally, Half Dome was right ahead of me. Can you see the person on top?

Half Dome

Half Dome

Then I reached the point where the ranger asks to see your permit. It's at 7600 feet, just as you reach the bottom of the sub-dome. I got a picture with him:

The Ranger and Me

Shortly thereafter, I passed this sign, which I think is notable:

No Camping on Half Dome

I met people who had just camped on Half Dome, and I've heard others who have done it before talk about it. Really, given what this sign says, doing so is a very selfish thing to do.

The View from the Hike
The view from the sub-dome

Mountain Pride Penstemon
Mountain Pride Penstemon (Penstemon newberryi var. newberryi) which you see growing all over Half Dome (and the rest of the Sierras)

Lizard
Lizard

Half Dome
Oh boy, there are those cables!

The View from the Sub-Dome
The view from just before I started the cables

I found some mis-matched gloves from the glove pile, had someone take a picture of me, and then I got going.

Me at the Cables

I can't say that the cables were anything other than terrifying and awful. And made worse by the knowledge that I would have to go down them after going up them. Really, I don't know why I climbed Half Dome at all. I certainly did not enjoy it. Many people coming down said the view made the climb worth it. I didn't think the view was that great - and anyway, you can see almost the same view off of North Dome, which I climbed last summer.

The View from Half Dome

The View from Half Dome

The View from Half Dome

The vegetation on Half Dome is pretty sparse, but there are some flowers up there:

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Sierra mousetail. Ivesia santolinoides

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Sierra mousetail. Ivesia santolinoides

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After coming off of Half Dome, I saw an abandoned pack that was attracting many squirrels. They'd already chewed a hole in it. Watch what happened as I took pictures:

Backpack with Chewed Hole

Squirrel Photobomb

Squirrel Photobomb 2

Mmm... Nuts!

He stole a nut, then ran away. Seriously, do not leave any pack with food out at Yosemite. That's what will happen.

Here's the view from the way down:

Descending Half Dome

I continued the 3.5 miles of trail back to my tent, looking at the flowers.

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Day 2 miles hiked: 7.1
Day 2 elevation gain: 2712
Total JMT distance hiked: 5.9

All of my JMT photos can be seen here.

Previous JMT posts:

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