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.
Western Tiger Swallowtail
Crazy burnt tree. It has a hole in the trunk, and yet it was still alive.
A legume... I'm guessing some type of vetch
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.
At last, Half Dome came into view. Briefly.
The first view of Half Dome
Then it went out of view. Here's what I saw instead:
And... it came back into view. Directly ahead of me this time.
Another little guy plotting to get the tourists' food:
Finally, Half Dome was right ahead of me. Can you see the person on top?
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:
Shortly thereafter, I passed this sign, which I think is notable:
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 sub-dome
Mountain Pride Penstemon (Penstemon newberryi var. newberryi) which you see growing all over Half Dome (and the rest of the Sierras)
Oh boy, there are those cables!
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.
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 vegetation on Half Dome is pretty sparse, but there are some flowers up there:
Sierra mousetail. Ivesia santolinoides
Sierra mousetail. Ivesia santolinoides
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:
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:
I continued the 3.5 miles of trail back to my tent, looking at the flowers.
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:
- Planning my Itinerary
- Getting My Permit
- Training for Mountains in a Flat State
- JMT Training Hike and Gear Test 1: San Bernardino Peak
- JMT Training Hike 2: El Capitan Open Space Preserve
- JMT Training Hike 3: Noble Canyon, Bottom Up
- Food and Resupplies
- The Camera
- JMT Training Hike 4: Mt. Baldy
- New Training Plan
- Last Minute Prep, Freaking Out, and Loose Ends
- Day 1: Happy Isles to Little Yosemite Valley