Despite the crowds on this trail, it’s still a wonderful hike. Half Dome is the Yosemite icon and there is something special about standing atop this icon. I still remember my first view of that monumental rock as I drove into the valley ten years ago on route 120. A native New Englander,
I’m not used to hugeness. My mouth literally dropped open at the site of the sheer face of granite looming over 4,000 feet out of the valley.
This was my third time climbing Half Dome, and I decided to take a day off midweek in order to minimize the "highway effect." After passing the highway of people at Vernal Falls footbridge, I steer us to the lesser-used Muir Trail and my strategy works – Shad and I walk alone until we hit the top of Nevada Falls. Nevada throws her plumes of water at us in full force. I inform Shad of the cool treat that awaits us on the way down via the Mist Trail.
After a water stop in Little Yosemite Valley (the last reliable water) we head up to the summit. We both groan at the assault on our knees at the granite staircase, but as we approach the cables, we’re both revived by being so close to our goal. With the help of a second wind (and a few powerbars) we hoist ourselves up the cables and arrive at the wide expanse of the top of Half Dome.
At the top, Shad snaps many photos and even peers over the sheer drop, something I’m too scaredy-cat to do. I look around and as usual am amazed at the number of people, all in different levels of preparedness, who have made it to the top. Some have only sandals on their feet, others wear jeans and tennis shoes, others carry dehydrating cans of soda. All hiking "don’ts" but I guess they can be forgiven and I admire their persistence– being on top of an icon is a great motivator.