So after finally returning back to California after 8 months of solid travel abroad and within the United States, I realized that, alas, I had never been to Yosemite!! Being only four hours away, Yosemite was practically my backyard and yet I had neglected its beautiful and rigorous trails. Luckily, it was also about this time when I met my friend Thomas whom was keen on climbing Half Dome-a giant granite crest that rises more than 1,444m (4,737ft) above the lower valley floor! It couldn’t have been better timing.
After discussing possible plans, we decided that the best way to do Half Dome would be to hike it starting at midnight the night before. That way we would be able to summit by 5am to drink celebratory beer and watch the sunrise. So, the 8.2 mile Mist Trail with 1,460m (4,800ft) of elevation gain would be attempted in the dark and we would happily be relying on our headlamps for guidance. I was fine with this, but I must admit I was a bit nervous when it came to the final 120m (400ft) assent up the steal cables that were constructed in 1919. Trust I suppose?
We also decided that this hike would really only be complete if when put on banana costumes at the top. Obvious choice.
So we drove into the Yosemite campground, unloaded the car and were prepped and ready to start by 12:00am. We stashed our banana suits in our bags as it would just be silly to wear them all the way up when no one would be able to see them ;) We started the trail and headed up the granite steps that followed the sound of a waterfall. As much as I tried to look out, my headlamp could not reach the falls, but I am sure it was there. A hour or two into the hike we came across this little guy below. He was only about 2 inches big, but I was super excited because its such a rarity to see scorpions!
After that we started to see lots of little critters all long the ground including this tarantula. Fall is tarantula season and hundreds can be found up in the hills if you’re looking. Or even if you’re not! As they love to come out on the trail. They’re usually pretty friendly and just go about their business so I always enjoy seeing them.
We summited Half Dome by around 4:30am and it was dark and freezing! So we cracked open some beers, banana-ed up and waited for the sun to rise. I was incredibly thankful to have brought my down jacket- this was a life saver! And sure enough as the sun began to rise, I started to realize just where we were. We were on top of the WORLD!!! Video courtesy of Thomas :)
Then, naturally, we had to have a little dance party/photo shoot.
Now that the sun was up, I was able to see the angle of the cables that we had climbed up in the dark….holy shit! Glad that happened in the dark…I decided to try and do a handstand on the cables and unfortunately my water bottle flew out and crashed to its death on the lower valley floor. I didn’t do any more handstands after that. I also decided to hold on just a little tighter….
And the hike down was simply spectacular. Absolutely breathtaking. We stopped many times for pictures and met a variety of nice people just starting out up the trail. We took a different route down, which also broke up the hike a little more, although apparently it was slightly longer.
Yosemite was epic. Honestly one of the most fun experiences of my life. And who knew? It turns out pretending to be a banana is actually a ton of fun and seems to only lead to wonderful outcomes. After all, who doesn’t like bananas? Thanks Thomas for a wonderful trip!!