Half Dome Hike in Eight Hours
19 Jun 2013

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Did something silly but satisfying today :) Day hike to Half Dome in 8 hours (4.5 hours to the top, 3.5 to come down). Plus driving from Mt View to Yosemite and back, all in one day!

The last time I did such a day trip was fifteen years ago, in 1998, when I was 25. A few weeks ago, I was inspired to do it again. I'm delighted that my timing is the same: 8 hours round trip :) Plus eight hours of driving.

Half Dome: The hike is 17 miles round trip from Curry Village, with 4800 ft elevation gain. There are 4 steep sections. Three of these entail walking up a series of steps carved in rock. At the very top, there's a steep granite rock, where cables have been laid out to support the climb. There are dozens of articles describing the hike: YosemiteHikesEveryTrail

What has changed in 15 years?:

  1. Permits: A few years ago, permits were introduced for Half Dome. These days, there are 50 daily permits for which you have to apply exactly two days in advance. I applied on Monday and got lucky.
  2. Food: I consume no caffeine and no sugary drinks. Just water. Also, I follow a Plant Based Diet: plain, simple food. My food habits from fifteen years ago may be classified as Standard American Diet.
  3. Hiking poles: When I was younger, I did not believe in using hiking poles at all. Today, I use them for hikes with significant elevation gain. These are good for my knees.
  4. Vibram Five Fingers: Since January 2010, I have done all my hikes in Vibram Five Fingers. These are like 'gloves for feet', for a nearly barefoot experience. Lesson learnt: Vibram Five Fingers are definitely NOT the shoes to wear for the final rock climb. I was wearing KSO Trek model, which is rated for trekking. I got very little traction on the granite rock. I had to use arm strength to pull myself up. I slipped many times when coming down. I spent almost 30 minutes extra on the cables, stopping many times.
  5. Sleep: My trip in 1998 was somewhat risky due to exhaustion. In contrast, today's trip was smooth and safe even though I slept for only two hours yesterday night. On the way back, when I felt drowsy, I parked my car and napped for about 20 minutes. It was some sort of a "power nap". I was recharged and fully awake for the next four hours to reach home safely.


3:50am: started driving to Yosemite.

7:20am: started hiking from Curry Village.

11:50am: reached the top.

12:15pm: started descending.

3:20pm: reached Curry Village.

7:40pm: reached Mountain View (back home).

8:30pm: at my friend's place who had cooked excellent dinner.

Thanks: Special thanks to Huzefa who encouraged me yesterday to "Just Do It!" and not to worry about minor things like "tight calf muscles". His advice: "dont listen to experts. Listen to your own body. You know what's best for you."

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