Hiking Up Half Dome


I got another bucket list item off: hiking to the top of Half Dome! I’ve camped a few times in Yosemite before as a kid with never had the opportunity to attempt the more daring hikes. Fast forward to now as a young adult the sense of adventure is still alive within me and my friends. We packed up our cars, figured out camping logistics, and drove up from LA to Yosemite with plans to reach the top of Half Dome.

Quick Facts

Length: 17 miles RT from Curry Village > Mist Trail > Vernal Falls > Half Dome
Duration: 10-12 hours
Half Dome Elevation: 8,842 feet (2,695 meters)
Total Elevation Gain: 4,800 feet (1,600 meters) from Yosemite Valley


Before reaching our campsite (Crane Flats) we stopped by Bridalveil Falls and climbed over a bunch of rocks, which would have been a riverbed if California weren’t in a drought. Poor Bridalveil Falls is currently a trickle.

Bridalveil Falls (or what remains of it)



Cell service within the national park is quite spotty. I was able to receive emails near the restrooms by Bridalveil falls and got a confirmation email saying that my friends and I won the lottery for Half Dome cable permits.

About Permits:

You always need them to get up onto the the cable portion of the hike. Without them you can only reach the sub domes of the trail. There’s actually a park ranger with an iPad that stands guard and checks permits on the way up and down. Turns out if you’re caught on domes without a permit you get a pretty fine ($$$.)

You can apply for permits over at nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/hdpermits.htm. Their system is a tab bit annoying though. You have to apply for a permit 2 days before the day you’d like to hike. No sooner and no later. So make a backup plan of activities you can do in the park incase you aren’t awarded permits.


Once we got our permits my friend, Ross Ching, had the brilliant idea to reach the top of Half Dome by sunrise. The light would be better and the trail would be less crowded.  Since no one opposed the idea we all went to bed by 9pm, woke up at 1:30am, and hit the trails by 2:00am.


For the night portion of our hike we each wore headlamps. Somewhere along the switchbacks of the Mist Trail we used the headlamps to light a long exposure of shot of the nearby mountain range.





Empty Cables around 8:00am


Wear gloves while climbing up the cables. Otherwise your hand will probably be rubbed raw. Looking down from the cables it’s easy to see how 6 people have died in the past attempting to conquer the giant piece of granite.


We went reach the top everyone was both excited and exhausted. The views at the top are incredible. You really feel humbled by the wonder when you see how small everything is in the great scheme of things.





Shoe selfie at 8,800 feet elevation from the Diving Board.




During the hike down we were able to see all see all of the natural wonders that we missed on the way up. And by wonders I mean the wonder of where did all the water go? Poor California!





Equipment Used:

OM-D E-M1 Mirrorless Mro Four Thirds Digital Camera
M. Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO Lens
Joby Gorillapod


Half Dome Hike – yosemitehikes.com/yosemite-valley/half-dome/half-dome.htm

Apply for Half Dome Permits – recreation.gov/permits/Cables_On_Half_Dome/r/wildernessAreaDetails.do?page=detail&contractCode=NRSO&parkId=79064

Half Dome Permit Lottery Info – nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/hdpermits.htm

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