In March of this year, I won the permit lottery to climb Half Dome at Yosemite. Last year, I wanted to accomplish some sort of grand physical feat. This year, after talking with my friend Rachel about hiking Half Dome, we both applied for a permit. I applied early the first day applications opened and selected a few full moon dates. A month or so later, I received the good news that we would be hiking Half Dome for the Harvest Moon. it is fairly difficult, though many do it and it doesn't require any expert training. I imagine you can't be too scared of heights and you have to be able to hike 14 strenuous miles.
When I was a kid, my parents would take me to the bookstore and I was allowed to pick out one book. One time, I picked out the above Sierra Guide. I have perused this book since I was about 8 years old and the cover picture of El Capitan has stayed with me. I also painted this picture as a teen with some cheap paint on board. Still, as a child or adult, I never visited Yosemite, fearing the endless tour buses and crowds I had heard about. I felt I had seen enough Ansel Adams photographs and could just leave it to my imagination.
Soon after entering Yosemite, you see El Capitan. It's no wonder that everyone uses the words majestic, magical and captivating when they describe Yosemite. It really is. All the Yosemite photos in the world can't capture actually being there. We stayed at Upper Pines Campground, which was a bit crowded but really it's the company and surround landscape that matters.
Rachel had warned us there was a fire last week in Yosemite. There was also one that started the day before our arrival. Being the positive group we were, we allowed fate to decide whether we would actually be able to climb Half Dome...well, actually the rangers decided by closing the trail gate. When we were informed of the closing, I can't say I wasn't disappointed. I had been looking forward to this for 6 months!
We decided to do the the Four Mile Trail as an alternative since it would be a 9.4 mile roundtrip hike. As you can see the views are spectacular. Just layers of rock and layers of trees under a gigantic sky.
We saw a double rainbow over the valley while walking through some rain. It was one of the most beautiful views I have ever seen. The rain cooled us down as we pushed ourselves to the top. The thunder made me just a little nervous, but luckily it cleared up.
People on the trail laughed at my reaction after coming around the bend and seeing this view of Half Dome. It sort of appeared magically and I couldn't get over its beauty.
Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir spent 4 days up here at Glacier Point. I am thankful this park is preserved.
When my friend Gabby looked at her sky app, we found that our sign, Aquarius, was on the full Harvest Moon. How perfect is that? We're definitely going to apply for the permit lottery again next year. I had hoped they would give me other options, but I was sent a refund the day after we were supposed to hike. Yosemite was as stunning as I imagined and then some. It was more populated than I am used to for camping. I also thought frequently of the original Miwok who were booted from the area and how odd it was to see tour buses and campgrounds of people spending time enjoying Yosemite in their place. It is sacred and beautiful land and I felt it to be a privilege to be there.
Stay tuned for part two tomorrow.