Backpacking Through Yosemite and Climbing Half Dome

Earlier this year I signed up with Sports Basement to go backpacking through Yosemite and climb Half Dome…and this past weekend I did it!

I spent three days backpacking and I climbed all the way up to the top of Half Dome!

I had the most amazing time on this backpacking trip with a group of eight backpackers (six first timers and two guides).
There was so much that happened through this trip, so below I did a little day by day overview with lots of pictures.
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Enjoy!

Day 1

Six backpackers, including my self, all met at the Glacier Point parking lot where we got the run down of the trip by our two fabulous guides from Sports Basement, Damon and Zach. After some introductions and safety tips they taught us how to properly pack our bags, how to take them on and off, and how to adjust them so we didn’t carry the weight of the 40 pound packs on our backs.

Yes! Our bags really did weigh 40 pounds…we each carried group gear (bear canister with either food, water filters, and cooking supplies) and our personal items (tent, sleeping bag & pad, headlamp, day pack, clothes, mess kit, sunscreen & insect repellent, power bars and at least 3 liters of water).

After getting our bags ready and eating lunch, we got on the trail and started our 4 mile downhill trek towards the Illilouette River where we then set up camp.

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View of Half Dome from Glacier Point.

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40 pounds all in here!

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Illilouette River

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Sunset – Day 1 at camp.

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Day 2

After packing up our gear and eating breakfast (coffee and oatmeal) we got back on the trail and made our way towards Little Yosemite Valley. This was a 5 mile challenging hike under the hot sun – it got up to 98 degrees this day!

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Through our hike we also got a chance to see the amazing Nevada Falls.

It had so much water rushing through it, I was stunned.

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Once we arrived at the valley we made camp, had lunch,  and as a group we decided to avoid the hottest hours of the day to pass and hike up Half Dome at 3 pm which gave us time to explore and nap!

Around 2:30 pm we all prepped our day packs, packing our snacks, at least 3L of water, our rain gear (just in case it started raining), and headlamps. By 3 pm,  we were on our way to Half Dome.

Sub-Dome was by far the scariest moment of the trip. I have never really been scared of heights (I mean…I’ve been skydiving before), but I felt extremely nervous hiking up it. I couldn’t look out at the view, I kept my eyes set on the ground focusing on next step I was about to take. It wasn’t until we started hiking down when I looked out and saw the breathtaking views.

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Views from Sub-Dome.

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The cables…I’ve got to say…I thought this was going to be the hardest part of the climb and boy was I wrong. This was one of the EASIEST parts of the hike.

I felt pretty foolish because I was so nervous the entire day thinking “how am I going to get all the way to the top” and my stomach butterflies really kicked in when I saw them. Our two guides kept reassuring us that they really aren’t bad…and they were right.

Before climbing up we all got in a line- three backpackers, a guide, three backpackers and a guide. They had me leading the pack…and as soon as my hand gripped the cable I was flying up! My adrenaline kicked in and I was zooming through the cables!

It took me about 15 minutes to get to the top of Half Dome and I was breath-taken by view (I’ll upload the video I took with my GoPro later this week). A few minutes later the rest of the group joined me in taking in the amazing view at the top of Half Dome.

***Key to getting up the cables: lean back and pull up with your arms and then legs. Leaning forwards will only cause you to slip.

We took pictures, celebrated, and then headed down just as the sun was setting – the views were breathtaking. Half Dome.jpg

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Day 3

Our last day was by far the hardest hike…we had a 9 mile uphill hike back to our cars at Glacier Point.

We slept in on Sunday, ate breakfast, packed up all our gear and were out of the Little Yosemite Valley heading towards the Illilouette River where we would have lunch.

At the river we had lunch, filled out waters and dipped our feet in the water (the guys found a little pool to cool off in). We then grabbed our bags and were on our way back to Glacier Point to finish this trip…and after hours in the sun carrying our 40 pound bags we made it to Glacier Point and celebrated with some ice cream from the gift shop!

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We did it!

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The AMAZING group that traveled with me to Half Dome

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I have to say…this backpacking really kicked my butt. The hills, mosquitos, sub-dome, and the pure elevation was insane. However, it was all worth it! I’ve never been on mountaintop like this, nowhere near it. The feeling of satisfaction that overflowed in my heart and mind when I saw THIS cannot be put in words. Thank you AGAIN Sports Basement for an AMAZING trip and to the other backpackers who joined me on this unforgettable experience.

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