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Essentials for Hiking Half Dome

August 7, 2013

Half Dome   Half Dome, Yosemite

I didn’t think I would actually hike Half Dome. My husband won the lotto to get the permits to hike the trail, and I secretly cried inside.  I thought I would climb to the bottom of the dome and wait for him and the other couple we went with. There was one point where I lost it on the way up!  I totally had an anxiety attack; I’ve never had one in my life!!  We were following the people in front of us on Sub-Dome and started to climb a part of the rock that I don’t think was made to climb.  I froze, I clung on to the side of the mountain, looked down, and thought I was going to die.  I’m terribly afraid of heights, and all I kept thinking about was my little body plummeting down to the bottom.  Luckily, my husband patiently waited and talked me into getting back on the right track.  After I saw the couple that we were hiking with push through that part, I decided: “What the heck?  I made it this far, might as well go to the top of Sub-Dome.”


Half Dome, Yosemite

We had decided early on that we would be eating our lunch at the top of Sub-Dome. I had already decided that I wouldn’t climb to the top of the next part: Half Dome; I thought I would be a nervous wreck the whole way up. Lunch was finishing up and everyone in my group was getting ready to climb to the top.  I thought: “I’m going to feel like such a loser when they all come down and say how awesome it was up there.”  So I went for it.  I remember one of my good friends saying “Just try 2 or 3 steps up, if it’s too much, just turn around.  Always be sure to look straight ahead at the rock, not up, down or side to side.” So I did!  I totally made it to the top!  It was definitely sketchy in some areas, but I made sure to have my husband behind me on the way up and beneath me on the way down, so he could catch me in case I fell 😉  He’s awesome like that!  Be prepared to take anywhere from 10-13 hours to hike the whole thing.  We did the mist trail on the way up and the John Muir trail on the way down and it took us about 12 hours and 15 miles.

Half Dome, Yosemite

Half Dome, Yosemite

Half Dome, Yosemite

Essentials for Hiking Half Dome:

Lots and Lots of water: I got a bit upset with my husband for packing me so much water because my bag was so heavy!!!  I was eating my words when I ran out on the way down and had to drink some of his.

Lots of snacks and a good lunch:  You would be surprised how hungry you get along the way.  If I hadn’t packed any snacks besides my lunch, I would have been hurting for energy.  I suggest lots of fruit, trail mix and some protein/energy bars.

Sunscreen: I applied, then reapplied, then reapplied again.  You are hiking anywhere from 9-13 hours in the sun, so it’s a good idea to carry some extra sunscreen to prevent you from turning into a crispy critter.

Hat: This was my saving grace. Had I not worn a hat, I probably wouldn’t have hiked half dome.  The bill of the baseball hat helped to block my view when I was climbing up the rock.  I wasn’t as scared because I couldn’t see up, down, or peripherally.

Good walking shoes:  This is so important!!  It took us about 12 hours to finish the whole trail, and when we did my legs and knees were very sore.  Be sure that the shoes you wear have been broken in, and are supportive and comfortable.

Gardening gloves:  We brought leather gloves because that’s what all the websites said to bring. I tried them on and realized that my particular pair were very slippery!!!  Someone at Sub-dome gave us their gardening gloves, the ones that have rubber on the palm area.  These gloves helped to ensure my death grip on the cables, they were so much better!!!

Half Dome, Yosemite

Thanks for stopping by!!

13 Comments leave one →
  1. August 7, 2013 10:45 am

    ALL the jealousy! This looks like it was a beautiful trek! Congratulations on conquering your fears! I’m adding this to my ever-expanding Bucket List!

  2. August 7, 2013 11:25 am

    Wow looks crazy and amazing! Great pictures.

  3. August 7, 2013 11:38 am

    Congratulations! It takes a lot to push beyond that instinctive fear that the monkey part of your brain spent millions of years developing. To freeze up with terror, and then collect yourself and keep going up takes a lot. I think it’s a very strong form of personal growth. A person who can do that, can do anything.

    How much water did you bring?

    Was this the first time your hubby entered the permit lottery, or has he been trying for years? I hear those permits are pretty competitive and coveted. Can out of state people apply?

    It looks like more of a ladder than a trail, is that the way it was, or is it a trick of the camera?

    Do you know how strong the bolts are? I guess they’re strong enough, they seem to hold everybody who does the trail.

    How was it coming back down?

    • August 11, 2013 12:29 pm

      Ok lets see: I brought 4 liters of water but ended up dumping some out (which I really regret). This was the first time my hubby tried the permit lottery. There is a certain time frame where you can enter, so we had everyone from our group (4 of us) apply for permits, and only one of us got them. Luckily we got 4 permits 😉 I’m pretty sure out of state people can apply because we ran into several people from all over the world up there. I guess you can say that it’s kind of like a ladder than a trail, just for that last part. I have no idea how strong the bolts are, but they were strong enough to hold a lot of people coming up and down. Coming back down was a bit sketchy at parts. It can be really steep and my foot slipped a few times, luckily I had a grip of death on the cables and wasn’t going anywhere fast. I would make sure that your shoes are not slippery!

  4. Dave F. permalink
    August 7, 2013 5:42 pm

    Awesome. Our family has hiked halfdome. Three out of 5 made it up. Two quit on what I call the steps before the cables which are pretty steep. The next year we tried again but lightning deterred us. It’s a tough day hike but my 10yr old daughter made it. We will try again someday…… Loved the article. Thanks for sharing.

    • August 7, 2013 9:33 pm

      Your 10 year old made it!!! That’s amazing!!! It can get hairy when the weather gets bad, they almost closed it due to rain when we went.

  5. trissity permalink
    August 7, 2013 10:48 pm

    That’s an amazing accomplishment! I am much too scared of heights to even consider something like that. 🙂

  6. August 10, 2013 11:03 pm

    Awesome!! That is one trail that I would love to do one day. Maybe when my girls are older, we can convince my wife to do it. She’s afraid of heights also. Did you have to deal with any altitude sickness? If so, how did you deal with it?

    • August 11, 2013 8:55 am

      Luckily no one from our group had altitude sickness! I couldn’t imagine, that would have been horrible! If I can do this anyone can. Just be sure your wife has a baseball hat and only looks at the rock while climbing, you forget how high you are.

  7. John permalink
    August 15, 2013 4:26 pm

    I climbed Half Dome back before permits were required (1999-ish). Since it took so long to get to the sub dome, there was nothing that would stop me. It began to sprinkle – a very big no-no for walking on STEEP granite! On the way down, my foot slipped, then my hand slipped from the cable and I just began to free fall. My buddy was behind me and caught me, luckily. Amazing view, beautiful place, and the most terrifying experience of my life!

    • August 15, 2013 5:25 pm

      I probably would have had a heart attack if I started to free fall. what a wild story. Glad you made it down!

  8. Chrissie permalink
    April 22, 2015 11:51 am

    This is so helpful! My son and I are hoping to go next year.

    • April 27, 2015 5:10 pm

      Thank you so much! Hope you guys have fun! It’s quite an adventure!!!

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