Monday, August 8, 2011

Half Dome: My experience

Sorry this is a long post... feel free to just look at the pictures

You guys... I did it!
I honestly STILL can't believe it
It was so HARD
Probably one of the hardest things (physically) I have ever done (so far)
You can read more about this hike HERE
But this is my experience with it.

So husband and I got to Yosemite around 4:30 on Friday. We checked in to our campgroud (right by the Merced river!) and went exploring. Husband showed me (in the distance) what we would be climbing the very next day... Oh geeze... that is high.

We went to bed super early. I'm talking... like the sun was still out 7 o'clock at night early. During our slumber we heard a GIANT tree fall (that sucker was LOUD) and had rude neighbors that were pounding something into the ground for more than an hour at 1 am... lame-o. And just when I was getting some rest... the alarm went off... at 4:30am

So I had to get ready in the DARK. This meant going potty (in a port-a-potty nonetheless eewww), losing my ONLY hair tie (but I found it thank goodness), washing up (thank heavens for throw away washcloths and treseme's dry shampoo), getting dressed, and packing up camp with my headlamp on.

We started our "trek" around 6:30 muhcin' on organic poptarts and generally feeling good. Then I got to the first hill... is it going to be like this the whole way  ... yup... up hill the ENTIRE way (duh what did I expect?) We hiked for about an hour and then we saw a sign that said "half dome 7.2 miles"... I was already sweating and we haven't even made it to the actual trail head yet... Poo.

But we had a fantastic pace! We passed tons of people on the way up... we passed waterfalls, fantastic scenery, mists, tons of squirles (that Devin feed goldfish), and cute bridges. On the way up we only stopped once to get a snack and put on sunscreen.

And then I saw it... the cables... Oh my heavens I don't think I prayed more in my life than I did on this trip.... But we still had to climb up these steep granite steps and over this huge rock (which took another half an hour) just to get to the beginning of the cables.

At this point... I'm not doing it... There is NO WAY I am climbing up those cables to the top of that thing.... no way... no how... But I had climbed a good 5 flippin' hours just to get here and there was no way that I was going to go all that way and chicken out. So I grabbed a pair of gloves and went... hanging on for dear life the whole way.

The most annoying part was having to STOP and WAIT... Hello can't you see that I'm freaking out over here... But husband was so good he kept telling me to "take it one step at a time" and "rest your hands so they don't cramp up" and finally... we made it to the top.

And the only thing I was thinking about was "how in the world am I going to get back down!??!?!?" But we took some pictures and had a snack and rested... and then it was time to go back down. Husband was my rock through this whole thing (as you can probably tell) he talked me through the whole thing "big step down right there... careful its slippery... stop right there and let these people pass... OK you're clear"

Hey this is easier!... I can do this! And then... my feet were on the ground again and I wanted an ice cream sundae! Ugh... but then we still had another 9 miles to go until we got to the car.

I was feeling pretty good on the way down... mostly just tired. We ran out of water about half way down- and then it happened.... My left ankle and right knee began to HURT and I mean HURT LIKE THE DICKENS hurt. I tried to be quiet and not complain and keep up with Devin but there came a point where every step I took was excruciating. I started to walk and cry and walk and cry... and then I was sobbing... "How am I going to make it down? I'm in so much pain!"

There wasn't anything I could do except keep going.... we had no water so resting was almost pointless... Devin couldn't do anything to help me... I just had to keep putting one foot in front of the other and pray I make it down before dark. I seriously started chanting "I think I can I think I can I think I can"... I became "the little hiker that could"

We finally made it to a bridge at the end of the trail head where we could get some water and I could rest for a bit. Thankfully the rest of the way was paved. Luckily we made it back to Charlie (my car) around 5:13 (I know because I checked) face hot and tear stained.

But I did it. I did the whole thing... even in pain. A whopping 18 miles... to the top of a freakin' mountain and back again. And I would do it again (with a knee brace and ankle brace and extra water).

Things I learned on this trip:
#1. Using a port-a-potty has the same principle as climbing a mountain... "don't look down"
#2. Always bring more water than you think you need OR a filter
#3. Strangers can become your friends in dangerous situations
#4.I am better at "hiking up" then I am at "coming down"... and to always bring a knee brace and ankle brace...


Cassie said...

Awesome Whit, you must be so proud that you were able to accomplish that! Climbing Half Dome is on my Bucket List :)

andrea said...

That's incredible. We visited Yosemite last Sept. and I thought half dome looked awesome. I don't do well with heights, and I don't think I could do that climb, ever. (I did Angel's Landing at Zions NP and that was scary enough for me. There's a chain railing that I gripped for dear life and that was a flat walk out across a skinny rock fin.) You are my hero!

Diane's Photography said...

Whitney, I have a new found respect for you...I always had one but this beats it all (well, until your next hard adventure) I am stinkin' proud and impressed with you! My darling, I got scared and teary eyed when I was reading the cable part! I am scared of hights and felt your fear (and you write well so I was in the moment with you haahaa) A huge pat on the back, and rah rah rah, and a happy dance!!!
love ya

Stevie Leigh said...

Looks amazing! Glad you got to learn things about yourself - always important :)

Shawna Lauringson said...

Yay Whit!!! I am so happy youre home safe and sound. Great Job!!! Those long hiking days are tough! But you are even tougher!!! Cant wait to hear more about it! See you tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Wow! looks beautiful! where's your picture at the top?