The Half Dome

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Getting up at the crack of dawn is not easy, but when adventure awaits even the hardiest sleepers amongst us manage to get up. We packed ou daypacks, got some coffee and breakfast, and drove into the valley one more time.

Car was running low on gas, but we knew that a few miles into the park there was a gas station with 24 hour pumps. We pushed on and pulled in with the gas light on. Our morning feelings of excitement quickly faded when we saw that all the pumps were off.

It’s 6:30 in the morning and we do not know what to do. The store next to the station did not open until eight. We could try our luck and backtrack half an hour to another gas station — assuming that the vapors in our tank lasted. Neither plan seemed good since we needed to get a good early start on the hike up the half dome.

We decided to hitchhike. Using a muddy finger we wrote up an “out of gas” sign so no one would tow our car and headed to the side of the road with our upturned thumbs. Within five minutes we were packed into a car which was heading directly to where we were going. Luck was on our side.

The hike was long but offered fantastic views. We hiked along streams and waterfalls, through pine forests, and finally along a rocky staircase to the face of the half dome. The park is full of animals which are unbelievably tame. We saw deer, chickarees (a type of ground squirrel) and even a bear eating berries a few feet off the trail.

The final ascent up the half dome consists of a walk along two steel wires up a smooth granite face. This is a choking point of the entire hike as people make their way up at the pace of a limping snail. The park worker said it would take over an hour to get up if we wait in line. Luckily he said it was OK to climb on the outside of the steel wires as well. We made it up in no time.

The half dome is a huge granite egg sitting on a mountaintop. Forces of nature sliced off one side, leaving a sheer cliff dropping down directly into the valley. The views were unbelievable. After conquering this behemoth, we aired out and cooled off our feet, admired the phenomenal views, and took pictures to remember this wonderful place.

On top of the dome we met a guy named Jeremy who was hiking solo. He came along with us on the downward journey for company. We made it down shortly after sunset and Jeremy was very generous and gave us a lift to our car. Luckily, the pumps were on now and we were able to fill up the gas tank and make our way home.

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