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Old Baldy, Canada | photo by Cameron Schaus
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Half Dome BalconyView from Half Dome balcony.

Hiking Half Dome's Famous Steps
July 2013

Ah, the colossal Half Dome. With nearly a thousand hikers from around the globe every day, this monumental butte could be the most popular hike in the world. It was last year when my friends and I first sat lethargically in Yosemite Valley, talking about our next adventure. One of us recommended the Dome, and soon we began to take the idea seriously.

This June, we took action. Two days prior to our trip, we enrolled in Yosemite's lottery system to gain access to the summit. Anxious to know the results, we pulled over alongside the highway at 1 AM to check our phones. Alas, all four of us lost the lottery. But all hope was not lost. We waited in line for day permits and were highly fortunate that four hikers called to cancel their reservations.

Just as the sun was coming up, we found out we had gained access. To any prospective hikers-make reservations at least 6 months before your trip to ensure permits.

Ecstatic with the new found knowledge, we celebrated with a well-deserved siesta. The rest of the day consisted of frolicking in the meadow, walking to El Capitan, and fueling up for the next day's hike. At 5 AM, we awoke and began the trek. The morning was frigid and I could not wait for the day to progress. The hike proved to be increasingly breathtaking. We were showered by Nevada Falls on the Mist trail, reveling in the momentous force of the waterfall. After eating lunch alongside a creek in Little Yosemite Valley to eat lunch, we continued our trek towards the north face of Half Dome.

Nevada FallsView of Nevada Falls on the way back.

The view was truly epic. I wish I had a better camera to capture nature’s awesome creations, though no camera could compare to witnessing it for oneself.

We climbed the slippery granite of sub-dome with cautious movements, and then it was time to apply our gloves. Half Dome hikers are urged to wear gloves for the cables to ensure grip and not hurt your hands. I was surprised to feel how vertical the rock actually was. My running shoes acted as placeholders for my body, as my arms did all the climbing to the summit. As soon as I reached the top, I lay down on the face and just took it all in. I immediately felt less bold the moment I saw climbers summit the dome. Nevertheless, it was the most gallant day of my life, and when we finally returned to the campsite at 10 PM, we absorbed the benefits (and soreness) of the treacherous hike.

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