Scott & Lorraine's California Trip Blog

Friday, August 11, 2006

Hike Half dome, then motor to a small town called Groveland.

We did it.

We hiked to the top of half dome.

We started by waking up at 6:00 a.m. and hit the trail head at exactly 7. The trip starts out easy enough with some gentle uphill climbs, and a nice trip over a wooden bridge. Last chance for water is about 1.5 miles out. Then you are on your own. You absolutely need 4 liters of water to do this extremely strenuous hike. We had 6 between us. Not enough. On the way back down, a hiker used an expensive filter thingy to fill up our Camelbaks at the river.

1/100 of 1% of the folks that go to Yosemite every year do this hike. The rewards for getting to the top are awesome.

I have no idea how we made it to the top. But somehow we did. The last 1/2 mile of granite stepped switchbacks in the side of quarter-dome will kill your average man.

The trip has many parts. Gentle uphill. Then a nice trip over a bridge. Then crazy, crazy trip up 1/4 mile of steps at the falls. You are basically hanging on the side of a cliff, going up carved steps that are wet from the mist of the falls. The steps are up to 18 inches high. You thighs are screaming out "stop".

At this point your brain is already sending out about 15 signals to all parts of the body saying "no way". But you push on. A little bit of nice flat through the woods. Then, ugg, another serious push up on switchbacks carved into the side of a sheer wall.

4 miles in, you get some relief. About 1.5 miles of flat through the forest. That just prepares you for 2 miles of 5-15% grade up through the forest. You then get about 1/2 mile of gentle up down that masks the horror to come.

After 7.5 miles, you have the real test. 1000 feet rise up the side of the mountain (quarter dome) on granite steps and grades. Fall off and you die for sure. There is NO room for error. This is serious stuff. Your body is failing and the end is in sight, but when you look up, you see just all the folks way above you on the side of a steep granite slope, and you say "how the heck am I going to make that". Many don't. You see folks literally in the fetal position crying (yea saw that). Its here that many decide they have had enough.

Ok, so you force yourself somehow mentally to get to the top. But not quite. You have to go up a 600 foot 45 degree wall on cables to hit the absolute peak. Imagine two football fields damn near straight up.

Lorraine made it 1/3 way up the cables. Scott made it all the way. But it was not easy. Scott was extremely scared. Rubber gloves up, leather gloves down. Pile of gloves at the bottom.

I am already spent. I mean nothing left. But the cables need upper body strength. Had that. You hoist yourself up maybe 50 feet at a time, then hold on to a pole for dear life. I wrapped myself around the poles in a fetal position and looked only at my shoes. That is were Lorraine failed. 1/3 up the cables, she looked all the way up. Vertigo set in. You just can't do that. You have to look up only about 50 feet and make sure you have a clear path from other people. Then go for it and chill. Not looking down or up. I can tell you that any attempt to see where you came from, or where you are going will be the end of you. I made the mistake once (looking up) and it took me a few minutes hanging off a pole, looking at my shoes, before I sufficiently recovered..

Using this "do not look" technique, Scott achieved the top of the Half Dome peak. It was all mental will and pride. I could not let down my trainers (Krys and Jeff) who helped with my strength, stamina, balance, leg work and upper body. Needed it all.

Now, the falicy. Its easier to get down than up? No way. The trip down was absolutely murder. I really thought they would need to come get me. I wanted to quit after 2 miles. If you were on a treadmill, or on a circular track, you would quit, but you have to get back right, so you continue. Tired, hungry, thirsty, extremely sore, what goes up, must come down.

We get to the bottom 12.5 hours later and hop on the bike. Its now getting dark and cold. We are hungry, Scott can barely hold up the bike when its stopped. But it was 45 miles of twisty dark road before we found food and lodging (the special room for straggly lost folks) at Hotel Charlotte in Groveland. Groveland is apparently the home of the oldest bar in California. And it was a hopping place with live music and partiers.

Happy to find a room, we showered and slept like babies after Mexican food in the only restaurant still open (good food too).

So now its on to the Pacific Ocean.

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Our lodging in Yosemite. Not bad really. Curry village great place to stay if doing Half Dome due to close proximity to trail head.

Lorraine and Scott at the top of Quarter Dome, before the cables. See the folks on the cables in the background?

Now, back to the beginning of Half Dome

Vernal Falls, awesome, this is just the top half, big fall

The rocky steps near the falls, this is 1/10 of the steps, very demanding on the body

More steps

4 miles in, you can see the Dome

I was hoping only 1 mile was left, this sign was disappointing

Nearing the top

Last 1/2 half mile is granite switchbacks that kill

that last push to the top of Quarter Dome is much worse than this photo shows, it switches back over 20 times

Self portrait scott took on the cables while the angle still allowed me to be able to safetly take a picture, 20 further it slants severly down

Scott at the absolute top, fyi that last 600 feet of cables...harder by itself than my two hardest Fitness Together workouts combined

Krys, Jeff......recognize the shirt I am wearing?? 24 hours later, worse hit muscle.....calves from 8 miles downhill. I need more calf work!

Your Comments

8/13/06 AWESOME

Great pictures. Yosemite is still on my to do list. Scott, I can identify with those feelings of will and pride. My first trip into grand Canyon was like that. After spending a week hiking around and then the last several miles hiking the switchbacks in Jacob's Ladder my body was screaming "No more". I even thought of just dropping my 50 lb. pack and leaving it there. LOL

Great trip? Rdie safe. You coming home through Il?

George Pugh


After this, consider the total AT from Georgia to Katahdin. As Chuck Yeager commented after doing the total Cascade Trail- 2 words were and have been his motto and also seemed to be yours. Those were "PRESS ON!" Great goal accomplished!
Dad Hall

8/14/06 Keep kicking butt!

Way to go Scott! Nice FT plug too. Although I'm sure half way up that dome, you were thinking FT stood for "Forget This", or perhaps other choice phrases. Glad to hear you made it to the top. I knew you would!

8/14/06 NICE!!!!

Hi Scott and Lorraine, I loved the hiking story. What drama...what happy you made it. The rest of the trip should be all down hill from here :)Miss you man.
Albert aka (Bert)

10/26/06 Great Story and Pictures

We at the Hotel Charlotte remember your trip well. The breakfast dining room was energized with Half Dome talk! Great Pictures, glad to have stumbled across your trip stories.


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