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A Guide to Hiking Yosemite’s Half Dome

A Guide to Hiking Yosemite’s Half Dome

Yosemite National Park is one of the most-visited outdoor destinations in the U.S. There are endless ways for visitors to explore its majesty. One of the more popular attractions of Yosemite is Half Dome, an impressive rock formation that rises over 4,700 feet above the Yosemite Valley floor.

If the visage of the peak alone doesn’t deter you from climbing to its zenith, you are in for a very memorable day. There are several factors that make Half Dome a territory only for series hikers, particularly those who have hiked areas that have a significant increase in elevation. Park Rangers are often need to rescue or aid those who underestimated the difficulty of Half Dome. The good news is you can still enjoy Half Dome without attempting to reach the summit.

Be prepared when approaching Half Dome

Hikers that take on Half Dome will want to prepare for any possible outdoor situation. Rangers advise that hikers should allow 12 hours for the full hike from bottom to top and back. Checking weather reports beforehand is crucial. Days that start out sunny and clear can be deceptive, bringing on clouds that can eventually form storm systems, posing a real threat to your safety and survival.

Yosemite half dome feature
Photo from Yang Song/Unsplash

What to bring

This strenuous and rewarding hike is going to require plenty of fuel. Be sure to bring along foods that will sustain you throughout the hike. This doesn’t mean just a power bar or banana. Foods that are balanced in protein, fat, and carbs will give you the optimum energy you need to maintain your strength.

Plan on bringing a gallon of water, which can be partitioned into four 1-liter containers. To save weight and space, try using soft-sided water pouches instead of bottles. These can be rolled down to practically nothing when empty. Even if you bring enough water, carrying a portable water filtration device is a very good idea. There are natural water sources along the Half Dome trail that will only be viable with a filter.

What to wear

Hiking boots
Photo from Joanna Nix-Walkup/Unsplash

For your safety, do not attempt this hike in any footwear other than those specifically for hiking and rugged terrain. There are many treacherous parts of this hike that will make sneakers or other street shoes completely impractical and potentially dangerous. Sunscreen, a hat, and clothing to protect your body from exposure is essential. Pack a headlamp so that you are not struggling through low or no visibility if you end the hike later than you anticipated.

Half Dome is one of our country’s most breathtaking natural landscapes, and with the proper preparation, planning, and realistic expectations, it will certainly be the experience of a lifetime!

Featured Image from Yang Song/Unsplash