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Climbing Half Dome (&& dying inside… alittle)

ALERT. Very embarrassing story found within.

It all began the day before. We were driving from Monterey to Yosemite and got on the road in the later afternoon but were in stopped traffic the entire drive up there. I mean seriously, it was barely moving. The original plan was that we would drive all the way to Yosemite and stopped for dinner. It’s only supposed to take about 3 hours driving. With all the traffic we realized how hungry we were and stopped off at a Sonic to get some food. I haven’t eaten at a sonic in 5+ years, and Megan made the comment, “This is the perfect meal to eat for an eighteen-mile hike,” but I somehow missed the sarcasm in her voice. I thought she was serious.

We eat our meals and got back on the road. We didn’t get to our cabin in the woods until after 10pm and it’s a 1.5-hour drive to the trail head so we had to get our bags ready, make the lunches, lay out our gear, and jump straight into bed because we were setting our alarm for 02:30. GAH.

Three hours later we wake up and I didn’t feel so great but then again we didn’t sleep much. We pack our shit, say goodbye to Ms. Sophie, Steamboat and Megan’s dog, and then hit the road.

Megan had made paleo pumpkin muffins for breakfast (they were so good!) and before we knew it we were at the trail head, parked, and ready to climb. Well sort of ready to climb.

Climbing Half Dome Yosemite National Park 2704:45, there we are, beginning the hike to Half Dome. See here’s the thing though… Megan had said it was going to be a vigorous hike with a steep incline for the first 6 miles. I was totally fine with that, but when we hit the trial it was like we were hoofing it straight up this mountain and I was not feeling very good. When my body is not on my side things can go South really quick if you know what I’m saying.

So we keep hiking, and at this point, I’m just trying to survive. I can’t even keep up with them anymore and it’s pitch black, we can’t see anything accept the path right in front of our feet from our headlamps. We’ve only been hiking for maybe 40 minutes if that, and up ahead I see lights around the bend, but the lights aren’t moving and so I think it’s hikers that have stopped for a break. I tell Steamboat and Megan to wait up, I have to go to the bathroom right this second because my body has to make an executive decision, I’m either pooping or puking in these woods.

Climbing Half Dome Yosemite National Park 50I go into the woods in between two boulders and go to the bathroom. I’m feeling so sick and I’m physically shaking. After I finish, I walk back to the trail where they are waiting and we round the bend and those lights I saw, 100 feet down the path, that was a fully operational bathroom. I just stopped and stared at it in complete shock. The three of us started laughing uncontrollably and we couldn’t even catch our breath for a couple minutes straight. It made me stop thinking about how awful I was feeling and just keep pushing ahead.

We came to a diversion in the trial and you can either go left, which is the shorter route but straight up a cliff face, or right but that adds an extra mile to the hike and loop around. We chose left and started walking these stairs carved into the cliff face. I climbed it slow and steady stopping to breathe when needed. By this time we had finally found other hikers on the trail.

Climbing Half Dome Yosemite National Park 53Steamboat didn’t get his coffee in the morning so we had to listen to him bring that up pretty much every five minutes, haha.

Hiking on, we came to another bathroom on the trail and decided to stop. At this point, I was dry heaving and tears were streaming down my face. Megan came up to the bathroom with me and Steamboat waited down on the trail for us. These older women came by and Steamboat told them, “You might want to wait to go up there I think the girls I’m with are pooping and puking.” That’s what he told them! (He told me this part of the story just recently, hahaha.) I was wiping my face off with these big leaves from a tree, thank god there wasn’t poison ivy on them! If your body doesn’t feel good it makes all the difference when you are hiking. But what can you do? Just push ahead or give up and I ain’t no quitter.

Climbing Half Dome Yosemite National Park 51By this point, the sun had started to rise and we didn’t need our headlamps any longer. We just continued climbing up and up and up. Steamboat would start a song and we would all have to sing it line by line. Our best song by far was Bohemian Rhapsody. Even other hikers joined in when we were close to them, haha. I gave one guy an award for having best beard on the mountain! He was very appreciative. His beard almost came down past his navel. He looked like Mr. Miyagi.

Climbing Half Dome Yosemite National Park 11Steamboat complained about the hike a lot. He had done no research and was very mad at us for dragging him along. I was too nauseous to be combative so he got away with it. In fact, I didn’t even mind the banter. It helped me forget how awful I felt. Finally, about 6 miles in, I started to feel better.

Finally, about 6 miles in, I started to feel better.

Climbing Half Dome Yosemite National Park 12 41Climbing Half Dome Yosemite National Park 40Then we realized that the struggle had only just begun. We looked over and saw half dome in all her glory. We were headed to the tippy top of that second peak. But first,  we’d have to make it over the sub dome, that line of trees you see on the bottom half of the first rock. If you look closely, you can see people climbing there in the picture.

Climbing Half Dome Yosemite National Park 54It’s so hard to tell just how steep it is, but the curvature of the picture does it some justice.

Climbing Half Dome Yosemite National Park 56We got up so high and stopped for snacks and trail mix. I’m not afraid of heights, and it was breath taking but the rocks were uneven and when I was climbing it always felt like I was leaning slightly right, so I had to make sure I didn’t loose my balance.

Climbing Half Dome Yosemite National Park 52Still no coffee Steamboat? Megan kept telling him they were serving it at the summit. hahahahahaha!

Climbing Half Dome Yosemite National Park 43At the top of the sub dome, you get an amazing view of the last part of the ascent of half dome. That’s when we saw the wire roping and slats of wood. Megan had done her research and made sure we all had gloves for this part, which I 100% recommend! I saw people climbing the wires without gloves and their hands must have been so cut up by it.

Climbing Half Dome Yosemite National Park 9Getting a bit closer we had a better look what was in store. Right in front of us a group of people showed up and started climbing with harnesses and hard hats. I looked over at Steamboat and Megan and was like, “well shit, we didn’t get the memo. We’re out here free balling it.” Megan had read that some people use harnesses, but we didn’t have any lying around so didn’t bring them. There was nothing else to do but get to climbing, so we got in line and started the ascent.

Climbing Half Dome Yosemite National Park 8It requires a lot of upper body strength. You have to pull yourself from each slat of wood to the next, but in between slats, the granite rock is slippery and so steep that you just kind of have to pull yourself along with your arms. There were a few moments where I thought I wasn’t going to be able to hold on, and I definitely strained my right shoulder a little bit but in some how and some way, we steadily made our way to the top.

Climbing Half Dome Yosemite National Park 7Climbing higher and higher, straight up the rock face. Booyah!

Climbing Half Dome Yosemite National Park 6There were a few parts that were even more treacherous, you can see that ridge up in front of me where you have to really use your upper body strength to get up.

Climbing Half Dome Yosemite National Park 22The three of us standing at the top of half dome. What a crazy day and we were only half done with it! Do you see the irony of that, standing at the top of half dome only half done, haha. We stopped for lunch and took a nap in the sun. It was much warmer now than it had been when we started out his morning.

Climbing Half Dome Yosemite National Park 19You see that ledge right there? Those guys with the harnesses and hard hats base jumped off the top!! That’s why they had all the gear. WOW.

Climbing Half Dome Yosemite National Park 13Looking out across the mountain peaks.

Climbing Half Dome Yosemite National Park 21Hey ya’all, I don’t feel like I’m going to vomit anymore!

Climbing Half Dome Yosemite National Park 23A flat plane you could walk around on at the top.

Climbing Half Dome Yosemite National Park 15Had to get a quick pic with the WV flag representing, LET’S GO MOUNTAINEERS!

Climbing Half Dome Yosemite National Park 2Such an amazing shot from this side of the cliff.

Climbing Half Dome Yosemite National ParkSteamboat and Megan, sitting on the ledge at the top!

After about an hour of hanging out, we realized that we had to walk all the way back down and decided to get back on the road. As we descended the wire ropes we realized that just in the hour we’d been up on the mountain three of the wooden slats had broken so now there was nowhere to take a break in some places. Thank God it was the last weekend of the season before they take down the wires and wood altogether. I couldn’t imagine climbing up without the wood.

Man, climbing down was awful too. My legs were screaming by the end of it, all of those uneven steps back down. gahhh!

img_8367Climbing Half Dome Yosemite National Park 10A pic just as we reached the sub dome after we had climbed down from half dome.

We didn’t reach the car until after 5pm and when we started that morning we had an unrealistic idea that we would make it back by 2pm.

Driving back to the cabin, we mixed gin and tonics using monkey 47 gin for the added flare and got the lasagna ready for the oven. Except that when we turned on the stove the starter for the stove kept clicking. Ummm, okay, that’s weird. We cooked the lasagna and took one bite. It tasted like straight gasoline. Damn. That’s what we got at the end of the hike, gasoline lasagna. Come on, laugh about it. I am right now as I read this. hahahaha. Too tired to go out and find other food we ate chips and salsa for dinner.

The next morning, Steamboat made us some hella good breakfast bagels with bacon, peppers, and cheese. SO Good. We drove into the town of Mariposa and took a look in all of the local shops then headed to the sports bar for bloody mary’s and wings, which was the perfect post-hike meal. In the afternoon we drove back to our cabin and then walked about a mile down the road to this gas station restaurant and played cards and drank some more. Then walked back to our cabin for our last night before hitting the road for home in the morning.

So yeah, that was our Columbus day weekend in Yosemite.

This article appeared first on The Cassey Excursion.

Cassey

 

 

 

 

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