Saturday, May 31, 2008

There & Back Again- A Tale by Jason Tegen

With one word I can adequately describe the 8.2 mile hike up to the summit of Half Dome: relentless. You find out real quick how in shape you are (or are not)! I arrived at the trail head around 5:45 AM and began an instant ascent up the side of a raging river. There are several routes to choose from during the first half of the hike and I decided to take the longer, but dryer and less aggressive Nevada Falls/John Muir trail. Within a mile and a half I was rewarded with incredible views of the valley and my first glimpse of the dome. Though I passed several people along the way, I hiked 95% of the trail alone, which was refreshing. Most of the way I heard nothing but nature: water crashing, birds singing, my own shuffling feet. I reached the top of Nevada falls in good time and had my breakfast at the top of the 600 foot falls overlooking the river gorge steeply descending to Yosemite valley. It was at this point the trail began to taunt me a bit. Half Dome looked somewhat close but was still so far. And it seemed like each time I got another break in the trees to see the dome, it kept moving higher and farther away. From the top of the falls I still had a little over 5 miles to the summit. There was a nice section of trail just after the falls that was flat and very quiet. It proved to be much needed as the last 3 miles was brutal. Specifically, the last mile before the summit was enough to hurt your feelings! I stopped to rest 3 or 4 times in the first 7 miles and probably 10 times in the final mile alone. I finally topped the small dome before my final ascent to the summit. There I was met with the amazingly steep 400 foot section of cables that led to the top. Pictures could never do justice to the sheer steepness of that final climb. Different sources say it is a 45 degree angle, but it sure felt sharper than that, especially in the middle. I was fairly spooked by the climb and heights usually don't bother me. It was almost dizzying because there was nothing but thousands of feet of drop all around. At around 9:45 AM I summitted Half Dome, making 4800 feet of elevation gain in right at 4 hours! The summit was breath-taking and a just reward for the hike. It offered 360 degree views as far as your eyes would let you see. Snow capped mountains, Yosemite Valley, and Glacier point to name a few. It was a beautiful as any sight I've seen. Words and pictures really don't do it justice, especially the cables. But this was an incredible adventure and a dream I've had since I was 14.
The hike down was very much the same as the way up. I arrived back to our tent in Curry Village after 17 miles and 7 hours of hiking. I'll leave you with my trophy picture from the diving board of Half Dome, 4800 feet directly above the valley floor.

1 comment:

abram.rampey said...

that is awesome! yosemite is one of the most beautiful places in the world. i hope you guys have a lot of fun.