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Questions to Half dome hike vets from HD newbie

PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2012 10:43 pm
by stripgaga
I plan on buying the book on this website "One Best Hike: Yosemite's Half Dome" and doing more research on the hike as well as general yosemite hikes and things to do while I'm there this july, but I got chosen for a half dome cable permit this summer and I am excited. Before anyone tells me how it's not for the faint of heart, I'm completely aware of how difficult it is. I am an active individual and in good shape. Although I haven't hiked a mountain of 16 miles in one day, I am ready for the challenge as I'm going on a workout and fitness schedule starting next week now that I finally got notice I have the permits for the hike.

My inquiry is for those who have hiked half dome, all the way to the top and back in a day. My group and I plan on doing it in a day so I am very curious for those who have done this. I want to be prepared when I do this hike so I would definitely like to know some things.

Before the initial hike or yosemite trip, did you do any physical preparation before your trip such as daily runs or anything to get in a good physical shape? So when did you leave in the morning and how long did it take you to do the whole hike (minus time spent at the summit sight seeing)? I don't want to bog myself with tons of food in the morning so any recommendations on what you had for breakfast and what kind of food to bring with you along the way? I'm not really sure what and how much of what to bring with me in a hiking backpack so what kind of things and how did you bring with you as far as food rations, water, and other essentials, such as water treatment? Did you bring any specific equipment as far as gloves for the cables? As far as shoes go, what kind of shoes with tread do I need? I have hiking boots now that come up a little on the ankle but I've read people recommend like running shoes or the athletic hiking shoes that look like low ankle running/ tennis shoes.

I think that's a pretty general list of questions, but I don't really know what else to ask. I really want to be prepared so if you guys can answer me as detailed as possible. I just want to know how to be physically prepared before I go like how much I should be able to run or walk in prepartion for that long of a hike and then what specifically I should prepare for the hike as far as food and water and then the hike itself. Thank you very much.

Re: Questions to Half dome hike vets from HD newbie

PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 11:11 pm
by AlmostThere
The primary thing you do is to hike. There is no activity that will prepare for hiking other than hiking. I have had runners and bikers and gym rats come hiking with my group and struggle - hiking is the key. The closest thing you can do to prepare is wear a daypack and go hike a stadium up and down and up and down.... Hiking is not walking, it's harder. The terrain is not flat and all those little adjustments to your stride really add up over the miles.

You need hiking shoes or boots (your preference, as long as they have good rugged soles) that fit and work well for you while hiking. The way to find those is to get some and go hiking - walking around in the store doesn't do it. Good socks (NOT COTTON) are also really important to foot comfort. You do not have to blister! Hiking helps prepare the feet for... yep, hiking!

For what to bring, you say you are getting a book on Half Dome. I have read that book. It says pretty much what any hiking book will tell you along with some info on Half Dome and the park, so it will work okay.

The other key things that you should do on any hike - bring plenty of water or what you think is enough plus a water treatment method. Sip while you go. Sip when you stop. Sip and sip, don't let yourself get thirsty. Don't do that "tank up and forget about it" thing, that doesn't work. Stay hydrated and it will radically reduce muscle soreness at the end of the day. Eat food too - trail mix, trail bars, sandwiches, whatever you want to take, it's a day hike. You won't need electrolytes or any special drink additive if you eat and drink enough. Half Dome is a hot hike because it's lower elevation and over lots of granite, you'll also dehydrate quicker in the Sierra in general. You'll see a zillion people suffering on this trail because most of them don't ask the questions you're asking and bring half a liter of water. Don't be tempted to drink straight out of streams... filter or treat it first.

Re: Questions to Half dome hike vets from HD newbie

PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2012 11:46 pm
by stripgaga
Thanks for the info. Have you hiked half dome at all or anywhere in yosemite?

Re: Questions to Half dome hike vets from HD newbie

PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 6:44 am
by AlmostThere
Uh, yeah, we only go to Yosemite 12+ times a year, all year. My hiking group is based in Fresno and hikes every weekend, on trail and off, to places in the central Sierra from Yosemite to sequoia NP. We also ski and snowshoe.

Half Dome is one of those we have done a few times, but there are many many more places to go and see that we prefer. We'll not be doing Half Dome again as a group. We have a few hikes to places like Clouds Rest on our schedule, tho. This weekend we will have multiple groups heading to the top of Yosemite and Chilnualna Falls in what's left of the snow....

Re: Questions to Half dome hike vets from HD newbie

PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 6:08 pm
by stripgaga
When did you leave for half dome in the morning, and was there any preferred trail you took to make things easier or anything like that?

Also, since you have been there many times, where other trails/hikes/spots do you recommend to see?

Re: Questions to Half dome hike vets from HD newbie

PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 6:32 pm
by AlmostThere
Pretty much any trailhead you can take to get to HD is going to make it a long or tough hike. Happy Isles up the Mist Trail is about the same as going from Sunrise, and other THs are going to make it longer. And all those trailheads with easy access to HD will be crowded.

AWESOME hikes include Mt Dana (6 miles RT, 3000+ feet of gain, view from 13,000 feet, starts from the Tioga east side gate)
Clouds Rest (from Sunrise trailhead at Tenaya Lake, a 14 mile round trip - moderately strenuous, but without huge crowds trying to push you off the mist trail steps)
Gaylor Lakes (very short mile and a half up and over a ridge - steep, no camping zone, very scenic, also at the Tioga gate)
Mt Hoffman (geographic center of the park, a little scrambling to get there, start from May Lake - about 7 miles round trip)
North Dome (trailhead at Porcupine Creek, 8 miles round trip, moderate hike and AWESOME view of Half Dome)
top of Yosemite Falls (from the valley floor it's a steep 3+ mile climb, but superlative!)
any of the points accessible from Glacier Pt Road (Dewey, Taft, Crocker, Sentinal Dome - huge views for moderate to easy miles to them, very cool) and Glacier Pt itself (not even a hike, more of a short walk).
I also really liked Moraine Dome - you have to get off the trail at a particular place and walk out a ridge to it.

Pretty much everything in Yosemite is great, some things are incredible. Mt Dana and Clouds Rest are my repeat favorites - we do the others when we can, but the fabulouso high points we must see are those two.

Re: Questions to Half dome hike vets from HD newbie

PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:24 am
by stripgaga
Thanks, I'll definitely check out those 2!

Re: Questions to Half dome hike vets from HD newbie

PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 11:32 am
by rittercon
My wife and I are in our late 50's (ouch!) and have done the half dome hike twice. The first time it was an "up and back" from the valley floor. We left at 6am and got back at 5:30pm, spending an hour at the top and another combined hour hanging out at Vernal falls, Nevada Falls and the Merced River at LYV. We used hiking sticks, took ibuprofen, drank lots of water along the way and ate granola bars, trail mix and other light foods. We trained for 6 months by hiking all the local hills on a weekly basis, looking for about 3 - 4 hour hikes. The up and back hike is certainly doable with a little preparation, or at least a little youth.

Our second trip was a backpack trip where we spent the first night at Illouette Creek and a second night at LYV. From LYV we hiked to the dome, leaving at about 6am and getting back to LYV at about noon. We left our gear at LYV and just took, sticks, water and snack foods with us. Once back at LYV, we packed up our gear and hiked back down to the valley, again stopping at Nevada Falls and Vernal Falls for rest and relaxation. I think we got down to the valley at about 4pm or so.

Overall I enjoyed the backpack version more than the up and back. I go backpacking two or three times a year and have the gear to do it, so its easy for me. Granted, hiking up the falls with a backpack is tougher than without, but you don't have to travel as far, so in my opinion it's a wash. The benefit of backpacking, assuming you're leaving from LYV, is that you can get to the dome much earlier than the valley crowd. Even with the new restrictions, the cables can get pretty crowded starting around 10am or so.

We are going again next weekend and are doing the backpack route. I got a wilderness reservation from Happy Isles to LYV, leaving Friday. When I pickup my wilderness permit, I'll also get a half dome permit for Saturday. We'll hike up to LYV on Friday, do the half dome hike Saturday, spend another night somewhere out there (maybe along Sunrise Creek) and pack back down to the valley Sunday. What could be better?


Re: Questions to Half dome hike vets from HD newbie

PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2012 7:25 pm
by Dave
I did Half Dome last Sept. via the Mist Trail route, leaving at 6am and getting back to
the floor at 3pm with plenty of time spent taking in the sights. A couple nuggets from
that hike:

1) Get hiking boots that fit, or your feet will never let you forget it.
2) Bring your own gloves for the cables. A pile of them awaits, but who knows
where they've been.
3) I second the advice of AlmostThere about drinking a little at a time, but not letting
yourself get thirsty. It was 93 degrees on that Sept. day, and it will be hotter for July.
4) I didn't use hiking poles, but some Yosemite regulars swear by them.
5) Don't forget to bring the permit. The park ranger at subdome packs heat.
6) Before embarking, take a look in your pack. Is that stuff needed or merely dead weight?
7) Once on top, find the "edge" and keep one eye on it. Gravity never goes on holiday.

Enjoy your hike.