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[Yosemite]

4 days solo hike that includes Half Dome and Clouds Rest

Hiking, backpacking, running, biking, climbing, rafting, and other human-powered activities in Yosemite National Park

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4 days solo hike that includes Half Dome and Clouds Rest

Postby ruljo » Wed Sep 16, 2015 3:49 pm

I am planing to make a few days hike (3-4 days) in early October. This would be my first time in Yosemite but I am an experienced hiker, I love wilderness and I try to avoid the crowds.
I definitely want to go up Half Dome (if cables are down it is not a problem at all) and sleep in Clouds Rest (I read the view from there is really nice?). I can hike all day long with big elevation gain, but I can also take it easy.
Any ideas for a nice trail? Loop trail is not a must if there is a way to return to my car somehow (shuttle, hitchhiking?).
Thanks in advance for any suggestions!
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Re: 4 days solo hike that includes Half Dome and Clouds Rest

Postby MadDiver » Wed Sep 16, 2015 8:08 pm

The view from Cloud's rest is really nice. Most people that camp in the area camp a bit off the trail north of the summit as the summit area is a knife edge of bare rock. There is NO water up there. You can see some pics of this area in my trip report (about 1/2 way through) just a thread or 2 down the forum page. I'll let the local experts make route suggestions but from recent posts similar to yours I'm sure there will be warnings of potential winter conditions. Enjoy and good luck!
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Re: 4 days solo hike that includes Half Dome and Clouds Rest

Postby AlmostThere » Thu Sep 17, 2015 7:55 am

The cables come down in fall, October 12, so if you're still going up half dome and will be there after that date that will have to be a consideration.

don't go up to the top of any high place in the storm. It's very dangerous. People have died on half dome because they ignore this advice .
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Re: 4 days solo hike that includes Half Dome and Clouds Rest

Postby Phil » Fri Sep 18, 2015 10:11 am

And besides being in the open with no place to hide in a storm, let's not forget that people sometimes fall to their deaths on Half Dome, even with the cables in place. You stand in the Saddle and you very quickly realize just how steep, slick and exposed that last pitch up to the summit really is. You can't get any reliable perspective on it until you're standing there.

Half Dome is classic, but Cloud's rest is higher, ascendable in almost all conditions without aids or cables, and, IMO, better for many reasons.
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Re: 4 days solo hike that includes Half Dome and Clouds Rest

Postby ralphp » Sun Sep 20, 2015 12:35 pm

Check out Sunrise Creek. It has campsites and good shelter from the weather. Most important - it has a running creek. It is the last place you will find water before hitting either Half Dome or Clouds Rest. Given last years snow pack, even that may be dry by now.

It is in the woods so you don't have those awesome vistas or the radical sunrise / sunset. It does have many rocks for bouldering so even around the campsites, there is stuff to do. If you want sunrise or sunset then you can take the 3/4 mile hike to a clearing above the wood line where you will have a nice view of Half Dome.

Sunrise Creek is easy to find - if you are on the Muir Trail and standing @ the sign for the start of the Clouds Rest Trail (West intersection, the 1 closest to Half Dome) then you are 50 yard south of the creek - the sites are not obvious. The best one is in the SE corner closest to the creek. I personally like the ones to the west of the trail - hidden behind some rocks yet still 100 to 200 yds from the creek. I've been visited by bear all 3 times I've stayed there including 1 who walked into camp @ dinner time and had to be run off. I love it because it is almost 1/2 between both - about 3.2 miles to Half Dome about 3m to Clouds Rest.

I tried once to camp closer to the summit of Clouds Rest and as others have written - you are exposed to a sudden shift in weather, you will have trouble finding an established fire ring and it will get cold. On the other hand, if I had enough water then I probably would have been much more comfortable. Got ramrocked looking for the fire ring and water.

Be safe and enjoy!
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Re: 4 days solo hike that includes Half Dome and Clouds Rest

Postby ruljo » Sun Sep 27, 2015 3:03 pm

Thank guys! I now basically have 3 different routes figured out 2 of them include Tenaya lake. I'll go to south to Half Dome from the lake and probably decide on the way whether to go to Clouds rest or take the Sunny Creek to get there. All depends on the water I guess, but I won't be building any fires there unless this is something that I must consider to drive the bears away. I don't know much about Yosemite bears but bears (brown or grizzly bears) here where I live are plentiful and not all that afraid of humans - at least there are not that many people who scared them away at dinner time and lived to tell about it :)

Thanks for all the suggestions! I'll post a report with pics (if I scare the bears away and live to tell about it that is...)! :)
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Re: 4 days solo hike that includes Half Dome and Clouds Rest

Postby AlmostThere » Sun Sep 27, 2015 4:12 pm

ruljo wrote:I don't know much about Yosemite bears but bears (brown or grizzly bears) here where I live are plentiful and not all that afraid of humans - at least there are not that many people who scared them away at dinner time and lived to tell about it :)


Don't build fires to drive away bears. You MUST have a bear canister from Yosemite's approved list to store all your food, trash and other smelly items (lotions, lip balm, toothpaste, etc) but those can be rented at the visitors center. Store the food properly at all times when you are any distance at all from camp, and if a bear shows up stand up tall, make lots of noise, and it will leave. Unless it has something that tastes good, like your food, it'll leave. It may come back later, but it should be scared off each time. In some areas it's wise to keep your pack on your back or out of sight as bears have learned they usually contain food, and will steal them - don't put it down and hike off to pee, keep it with you.

Don't be afraid of them - Yosemite bears have never killed anyone, but people have been injured due to not following the rules regarding food storage, and the bear invades the tent to get improperly stored food or hygiene items. You can't startle a bear, at close range, inside a tent, and expect them not to react in self defense.

There is a pretty high fine if you do not have an approved canister and use it properly, or if a bear gets something from you.
http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/bearcanisters.htm

There are no grizzlies or brown bears in California, only black bears, some of which are brown, cinnamon or lighter colors. They really do not present a danger unless they are habituated to people, and Yosemite has the most habituated bears in the state. They break into cars for food, steal food from you if they can, but if you do as Yosemite rangers suggest you'll be fine.
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Re: 4 days solo hike that includes Half Dome and Clouds Rest

Postby Phil » Sun Sep 27, 2015 10:46 pm

Yep, if you store your food correctly, the bears are nothing to worry about at all. It's a dance between you and an otherwise docile but opportunistic animal that's just looking for some easy calories and wants nothing to do with you. You just happen to be there. The vast, vast majority of the time they run off easily. They're actually sort of fun to deal with, except if it's 4 am and you realize you forgot to take a Clif Bar or a candy wrapper out of the stash pocket on your hip belt. Surprising them on the trail, being too far into their comfort zone, or somehow getting between a sow and her cubs are going to give you more potentially unpleasant encounters than properly stored food ever will. So what if they want to beat your can around for 15 minutes and get nothing out of it?

Seriously though, if it goes on your skin, in your mouth, is garbage of any kind, or has any scent at all, make sure it goes into the can at night, and don't miss anything, including your first aid kit. If it doesn't fit in the can, you either eat it or leave it in a bear locker at the trailhead (never in the car!). Clean up your dishes thoroughly, and don't cook in or near your tent. Store your locked can as far away from where you're sleeping as possible. I think it's supposed to be 100', but improperly locked lids are the #1 reason for bears obtaining food from canisters. Spilling or wiping food residue on your clothing is a bad idea. At night, invert the can lid down toward the ground to lessen any scent if you're not using odor proof liners. Asking your tent mate if he/she forgot anything is the last question you should invariably ask before you turn in for the night. Also at night, leave as many or all of the pockets and flaps of your pack open so that if a bear wants to check it out, it hopefully doesn't have to tear it up to do it. You drop your pack for anything where it's unattended in the least, like peeing, looking for a site, pumping water..., the can comes out and sits on it's own. Keep the can within arm's reach (6 feet) when cooking and if the lid of your can isn't locked and it's beyond that, some rangers will remind you not so nicely if they see you. Don't leave your can where a bear can roll it off a cliff or rock and crack it open when it hits the ground below. If a bear has your food, it's theirs...accept it, and all you have left to do, by law, is go and clean up the mess. If you throw rocks to frighten the bear away, as some might advise (not me), don't hit the bear in the face or the head. Finally, people need to remember that not only is bear spray not allowed in Yosemite, it's ridiculously unnecessary.

I like the fire thing though! It's a very angry-townspeople-with-torches-and-pitchforks kind of concept, but a good headlamp is going to be better.
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Re: 4 days solo hike that includes Half Dome and Clouds Rest

Postby CarolE » Mon Sep 28, 2015 8:07 pm

k, maybe a really dumb irritating question but do people carry the ultra small boat horns to scare away the Bears that just won't be easy frightened off? or would other hikers then become your biggest risk?
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Re: 4 days solo hike that includes Half Dome and Clouds Rest

Postby AlmostThere » Mon Sep 28, 2015 8:16 pm

No.

seriously , there are NO recorded deaths in California due to wild black bears EVER, so keep your distance, follow the instructions of rangers, and don't allow paranoid imagined dangers keep you from enjoying your trip. store food, trash and others items with scent properly.

I have been in the presence of many bears in California. wild ones bolt off immediately, habituated ones walk off when you shout and stand your ground. Yosemite kills bears that start to show signs of aggression. worry about the top killers in the park - rocks and water. stay hydrated and don't go in deep water or fast water. you'll be fine.
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Re: 4 days solo hike that includes Half Dome and Clouds Rest

Postby CarolE » Mon Sep 28, 2015 9:27 pm

I'm not really worried myself as the lack of Grizzlies is one of the reasons I'm interested in Yosemite. I'm more interested in why people carry spray when a horn, if you're going to carry anything, seems to make more sense.
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Re: 4 days solo hike that includes Half Dome and Clouds Rest

Postby Phil » Tue Sep 29, 2015 5:43 am

Bear spray is intended to be used as a fog between you and a charging bear, primarily against Grizzlies. In almost 40 years, I've never seen a black bear resort to this level of aggression, EVER. To spray it would be a gross overreaction and cruel on your part. I've been huffed at and bluff charged to where the bear stomped its front paws and advanced a few feet only a couple times before turning tail and running because her cubs were secure and I was no longer the threat to THEIR safety...these were both cases where I stupidly surprised them, of me being perceived as the aggressor. I was keenly aware, and yes, afraid. My fault entirely, and I can't say that any animal, including me, would have reacted any differently.

Bear spray is capsicum, a powerful version of very concentrated pepper spray. It hurts them by burning the mucous membranes of their eyes, nose and throats and choking them. It's a last resort for Grizzlies, it's only a deterant, and it might not work. Before you deploy spray, or an air horn, you have to assume you've already made a lot of noise that's been disregarded. You've been sized up, the assessment made, the threat or irritation processed and acted on. In other words, the Grizzly is really pissed off, and it's not in the mental place where it cares what you throw at it, except maybe a bullet. Black bears are of a completely different mindset than that. They want food, not a fight. You are not a safe and easily obtainable, viable food source.They may come back from a different direction just to test out Plan B, but that's tenacity, not aggressive behavior. WE need to learn to differentiate.

Yes, some black bears are big and could hurt us if it wanted to. They're smart. They live beyond the light from our campfires, and they're tenacious opportunists, but they fear people above all else unless we've conditioned them otherwise. Our irrational fears are machinations of our own perceptions of all these elements coming together in what a black bear MIGHT be to us, not the reality of what the animal is really about.

Example: A few years ago, at LYV, a bear (no doubt massively conditioned by obtaining human food) ripped into a tent where a couple kids were sleeping. They had left candy in their pockets and the bear smelled it but didn't know how to operate a zipper, so it went in the only way it knew how. Terrified, the kids woke up and screamed...the bear was more terrified...it ran away. End of story.

If you really want to fear something that lives in California, fear bull elk in rutting season.
Last edited by Phil on Tue Sep 29, 2015 6:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 4 days solo hike that includes Half Dome and Clouds Rest

Postby ralphp » Tue Sep 29, 2015 5:59 am

Phil wrote:They're smart. They live beyond the light from our campfires, and they're tenacious opportunists, but they fear people above all else unless we've conditioned them otherwise.


Man Phil, you really know these guys - the 1 that came do dinner was in the shadows on a rock but closer to the bear can than me. I was by the fire and about 20 feet away, he was < 5.

I ran him off with a womanly scream - tried for manly yell like in my dreams but reality failed me. He immediately left but he paced along the outskirts of camp and came back during the night to play w/ the can.

Rangers haze the bears and check your permits. The bears are in charge of ensuring you have safely locked the can.

"Opportunists" - that is exactly who they are but you don't need to crazy fear them ....

On the other hand, every trip, I hear the helicopter and we all know that means that somebody has probably slipped, fell and hit their head (or maybe put their hand under a rock where the rattlesnake lives). Lots of things I fear more than bear out there.
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Re: 4 days solo hike that includes Half Dome and Clouds Rest

Postby Phil » Tue Sep 29, 2015 7:10 am

ralphp wrote:Man Phil, you really know these guys


No, not really. They're just predictable when they know their place and I know mine. I fear the unpredictability of some of the people that inhabit the Pizza Deck at Curry Village more than I could ever fear black bears...doing whatever it takes to get at easily obtainable food that smells good is a common theme I guess. The bears just aren't malicious about it.
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Re: 4 days solo hike that includes Half Dome and Clouds Rest

Postby JdBSound » Thu Oct 01, 2015 5:34 pm

FYI there has been a very active bear in the Cloud Rest area over the past week and a half (10-12 sightings and 3-4 food grabs by her)....i opted out of sleeping in that area because of this last week.
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