Sabbath, June 3, 2006
I stayed at the home of Larry Schlist, the father of my friend Crystal in Syracuse. I remembered how Crystal and her husband Brad talked about Yosemite and how they loved hiking there. They also told me how much Larry loves to hike and worked it out for me to hook up with him for a hike in Yosemite. He loves to take people out hiking and our objective for today, this would be his 27th hike up Half Dome, the most popular mountain in Yosemite National Park. We were talking about the hikes that we had done and I just loved it! Very rarely do I meet someone who is as excited as I am about hiking!
We reached the
parking area and rode a shuttle bus to the John Muir Trail trailhead. Now I can say I have hiked both the ending(Mt. Whitney) and the beginning(Yosemite) of the 210-mile long John Muir Trail. The first mile of trail follows the raging Merced River. There was so much water running from the snowmelt; it was incredible! We could see Illilouette Falls in the distant canyon, and we soon crossed a bridge over the Merced River which gave us a view of Vernal Falls. At this point, the Mist Trail junctions away from the John Muir Trail. We chose the more exciting, high-drama Mist Trail over the longer JMT. It is called the Mist Trail for good reason, especially in early June. The mist from Vernal Falls was practically like walking through a bunch of rain! I put on my waterproof jacket and trudged up the stone staircase that someone had so thoughtfully built many, many years ago. The view at the top of Vernal Falls was dramatic. The falls are small by Yosemite standards—only 200-300 feet in height. However, now that we were above the mist, we could see a rainbow
with the sun shining on the mist. A sort hike further down the trail brought us to a view of Nevada Falls, also small by Yosemite standards being only 600 feet high! The Mist Trail passes away
from this waterfall, so you do not get wet going by this one.
After we attained the height of Nevada Falls, the trail became flat for about a mile as we were now in “little” Yosemite Valley. The views of the
south side of Half Dome were magnificent, as were the views of Clouds Rest Peak. Larry was telling me about the day he hiked both Half Dome AND Clouds Rest. Now that is what I call an ultramarathon day! I was the slow one for this hike—Larry had to slow the pace and wait up for me! Of course I was slightly sore from all my adventures earlier in the week. We eventually started climbing gradually again until we reached the
first of two subdomes before you get to the cables section of Half Dome. The Native American name for Half Dome is Tissiac.
Once we were above the trees, we could see the high Sierra quite well. From Mt. Hoffman to the north, Clouds Rest to the east, and Mount Starr King to the south, and Mount Clark to the southeast, the views were all spectacular. And the most spectacular of all we still looming to our west, Tissiac, or Half Dome lay as a massive granite monolith in front of us. The second subdome was a bunch of switchbacks
with steps cut into the granite. Somebody went to a lot of work doing that! Now they just need to bring a broom and sweep all the loose scree off of the steps!
Once we reached the top of the second subdome, it was time to face the inevitable—the cables section!
I have dreamed for a number of years of doing this hike and I was not going to let fear stop me now. I had done a rock face using a cable over ten years ago on the tropical island of Pohnpei. That was a very memorable hike and I could see that these cables being anchored at arm level with wooden footrests every ten feet would be even easier! I pulled out my rubber work gloves to protect the skin on my hands and got to work! Most people prefer to stay on the inside of the cables because it seems more secure. Of course, many traffic jams also occur here as people find themselves only able to go as fast as the slowest hiker! Larry immediately went to the OUTSIDE of the cables and I followed his lead.
He just scampered right up those things like it was nothing! My new nickname for him is “Larry the Cables Guy”! I was following him but not as quickly. “I love this,” I shouted. Larry said I was the first person he had taken here who had that reaction. What can I say? I laugh at danger. However, I did not feel quite as comfortable passing people even though they were on the inside of the cables. I took my time and arrived at the top of the cables 5-10 minutes after Larry did.
It took me a little over 5 hours to climb Tissiac. I loved the
[4000-foot drop on the north side of the peak. I took lots of pictures and then we took a picture next to a snowwoman
somebody had built at the top. WE then crossed the snowfield and looked at the views to the south of Illilouette Falls. All too quickly it was time to leave this majestic summit. I truly feel like I saved the best for last. It was really great getting to hike with somebody else who loves hiking as much as I do. Half Dome was awesome, even with the crowds. On the way down the cables, you guessed it, Larry and I downclimbed on the outside of the cables again. There were portions that felt like repelling down a cliff using a rope! But it was much easier going down than it was going up.
The rest of the hike was relatively uneventful. We got back to the trailhead and had to wait about 40 minutes for the next shuttle bus. In the meantime, we were lunch for the mosquitoes of Yosemite Valley! We were going to drive over to Glacier Point but decided that we did not have enough time so we drove the 2.5 hours back to Larry’s house in Madera.
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