Back to the Valley
Every September I take a little birthday trip to climb. The past few years I have gone to JTree. This year, I knew I was going to the Valley. After some planning, and replanning, and replanning again, I finally had the date and everything was in line. Kris was going to go with me and we were going to hike up Half Dome during the Full Moon. We left after work on Friday, September 20. We drove up to Mill Creek Road north of Bishop and stopped for the night. As you can see from the pictures, this is an abandoned road, it's great for a quick nap. Here is a picture of us in the morning when we woke up.
I always tell everyone how I just pull over, toss down the bag, and sleep. Here I am pointing to the spot where we slept, right in the middle of what was once a road.
After packing up and eating a quick breakfast, we were off. I like to drive up the 395 instead of the 5 for 2 reasons:
1. Less traffic
2. More scenic
It does take longer, but when your driving through Tuolumne and you see Half Dome from Olmsted point like below, it's worth it.
We arrived at C4 about 10 AM. We got the last two spots. We setup camp and took the bus around the Valley so Kris could see some of the sites real quick. Of course I had to stop in Curry Village at the Yosemite Mountain Shop. I was happy to see they are now carrying Splitter Cams. We headed back to the lodge to load up on food before our hike. We arrived the same time as a tour bus full of French tourists, it was chaos. After we ate, we headed back to C4 and loaded up for the hike. We drove over to the trailhead. Parking was a nightmare. Finally, though, we were hiking, it was just after 2 PM on the 21st. We decided to take the Mist trail on the way up so we could be near the water, or what little water there was. Here is a picture of Kris at the top of Vernal Falls. Notice the haze, there was a small fire near the 120.
We kept hiking, up past Nevada Falls, Little Yosemite Valley where it was starting to get dark, and finally to the sub-dome of Half Dome. My knees where holding up pretty good, but not the lungs. I think it was the distance more then the altitude. At least we were high enough to look down over the Valley in the light of the Full Moon. There were tons of people up there, a lot more then I expected. Several had climbed Snake Dike and hung out for the moon to come up. Most were staying in Little Yosemite so they only had a 2 mile hike ahead of them instead of the 7 miles we had. Here we are at our final destination. Do you see the happy look on my face?
We sat there for some time and just hung out, talking to people going up and down the trail, including a group of 150 high school students from the Bay Area. Eventually we left. We didn't really even need head lights for most of the trail. We spooked a deer about 1 mile above Little Yosemite. It just stood in the dark about 10 feet from us and then wondered off.
Eventually we got back to Nevada Falls. We decided to take the John Muir trail, although it is longer, it spared our knees. I had never been on this part of the trail and didn't know what to expect. It was a nice trial and I would love to see it in the day time. Due to the position of the moon relative to the valley, we were getting very little natural light and had to use our lamps. On the way down I was telling Kris I bet we run into some people on the way up for the morning. Once we reached the Mist trail by Vernal falls, we started seeing people on their way up. Kris thought they were crazy. I was wondering, who is more crazy, people going up the trail at 1 AM or people coming down it, like us.
Finally about 2 AM we were back to the car. My knees and lungs both felt better then usual. I was pretty happy.