Yosemite, September '98

In mid September we decided to take a few days and "do Half Dome". We chose to take the back way in from the Tenaya Lake trailhead. By starting from a higher altitude we hoped to spare our aging and in some cases slightly gimpy bodies the strain of the climb from the valley- which to my mind is too crowded anyway. None of us had taken this trail before and it made for a nice three day trip. Just slightly below and left of center in this picture is Tenaya Lake, where we started from. This route also gave us a chance to visit Couds Rest, a near 10,000 foot peak, where I am standing in this picture.

Above is the view east from Clouds Rest. By camping close by the night before, we had a nice lunch with the best view of the park that I have ever seen. Turn right (south) and this is what you see (below).

Another right turn and you are looking down on Half Dome. You can see the valley floor a mile below.

Our next task was to hike down from Clouds Rest and establish a camp near Half Dome for an assault the next day. The correct way to go is just straight ahead over the top and down to an area that would be just below and to the left of Half Dome in this picture. This is a very scenic trail. Two members of the group decided to take a "short cut" and ended up spending most of the day bushwacking to get to a different trail below.

That night a bear visited our camp and stole food from one of us who shall remain nameless who left two cans of Vienna sausage in his pack. Strange how in less than a minute his pack was raided and knocked over, the cans taken, and nothing else, including two bear canisters just sitting out in the open, was touched.

We got up early the next day to make our way to the infamous cables that go up the last few hundred feet to the top of Half Dome. Actually, the climb to get to this point is just as strenuous as the cables but the psychology of climbing what appears to be straight up is what takes the biggest toll. Plus the altitude, which is over 8000 feet.

This is what you see from the base of the cables. I had been here 15 years before and made it up under very questionable weather conditions. You must not go if there is any threat of lightning, since you are completely exposed and hanging on to steel cables. People have died up there.

This day it was beautiful. The wind was picking up but there was nary a cloud in the sky. And even though we met someone coming down who had quit half way up due to a fear of heights, we knew it was time to go on up.

From the cables near the top you could see all the way back to Clouds Rest. To give a little more perspective, if you look closely there are a group of people sitting in a line with their packs near the top of the granite dome almost in the exact center of this shot.

This looks worse than it is. Going up Half Dome has always been sort of a rite of passage for hikers.

Looking back ( east ) up the Tenaya Creek Canyon from the top of Half Dome. This is supposed to be one of the wildest wilderness areas in the park. No trails. You are on your own.

One last view of Yosemite Valley, 4000 feet down. This used to be a favorite spot for hang gliders and parachutists. Not legal anymore. As we enjoyed the fruits of our labor the early morning breeze turned into a 60 mile per hour jet stream so we headed down just as the rush of hikers from the valley were getting to the cables. We had seen hardly a soul for two days and suddenly it was like we were in an amusement park. We still had more than 10 miles of hiking to do- all downhill. I still don't like that rocky, boring set of switchbacks known as the Nevada Falls trail, and we still had to deal with sore feet and some lost car keys, but this was a great trip that we will all remember forever.

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