Hiking Trails

Half Dome Yosemite Hike via the Mist Trail

Having just returned home from Europe after hiking Tour Du Mont Blanc, a part of me wanted to take a few weeks off before getting out to do any serious hiking. I’ve been hiking just about every weekend since January, and my muscles could definitely use a little rest. There was just one small problem to this rest plan…Julia and I had permits to hike Half Dome! It was a hike and trip too good to pass up based purely on muscle fatigue. Even with the impending threat of thunder storms and the El Portal fire raging close by, Yosemite is a place that fixes all wrongs, heals tired muscles, and recharges fatigued minds.

(View my track on Alltrails)

We started early at 05:30 to make sure we made it up and down the steep granite face of Half Dome before the forecasted thunderstorms made their way in. The last time I hiked Half Dome, thunderstorms hit the day before I hiked and a girl slipped and fell hundreds of feet to her death. That has always stuck with me, and I’ve made a mental pact that I will put out all competitive fires in the event things ever look sketchy as I approach the cables. Aside from the taste of smoke in the air, the morning was off to a great start. We parked at the lot just past Curry Village and made our way to the trailhead for the Mist Trail.

Yosemite Half Dome Hike
High Sierra Loop Trail Sign

The first mile or so of this trail is on asphalt as it takes you to Vernal Fall, a popular site for many of the less than adventurous visitors of the park. It’s rare you get to see this section completely empty, an experience that completely justifies an early start time. Shortly after leaving the asphalt road, the trail heads up a long stone staircase that eventually brings you to the the top of Vernal Fall and Emerald Pool.

Yosemite Half Dome Hike
Stairs to Vernal Fall
Yosemite Half Dome Hike
Stairs and a Rail
Yosemite Half Dome Hike Vernal Falls
View from the Top

After taking some shots at Vernal Fall, we continued on over some granite slab before crossing a bridge and continuing on toward Nevada Fall. The trail here is much of the same, a semi-steep grade with easy footing, and steps carved into the stone. It was at about this point in the morning we realized the thick grey haze overhead was probably going to be sticking around for the entirety of the day. The smell of smoke continued to grow stronger, and although the sun was making it’s way higher up above us, the wood burning close by kept it’s light to a muffled bleak weakness.

Yosemite Half Dome Hike Nevada Fall
Bridge
Yosemite Half Dome Hike Nevada Fall
Nevada Fall

The trail really levels out after Nevada Fall and is close to flat for a few miles before picking up a little ground before reaching the subdome. We reached the subdome at about 08:00 before the ranger had time to make his way up to check permits. No matter how many times you’ve pulled yourself up the cables, viewed pictures, or watched videos online, nothing quite prepares you for what lies ahead. The final push to the summit always seems steeper than you’ll allow your mind to envision.

Yosemite Half Dome Hike
Half Dome
Yosemite Half Dome Hike
The Cables

Julia had never hiked Half Dome before, so a lot of my excitement was seeing how she responded to stepping in between the cables and staring up at what stood before her. With no one in front of me, I’d just pull myself up without stopping and claim my prize. So we both agreed it would be best if I stayed behind her and allow for her to work at her own pace. She did well, and used all the strength she had to make her way to the top. Even with the smoke billowing up from El Portal to cast the sky in a post apocalyptic light, the beauty of Yosemite Valley stood tall. There are few places on earth with a view that can ever compare to this.

Yosemite Half Dome Hike
A Man on the Edge
Yosemite Half Dome Hike
Don’t Look Down
Yosemite Half Dome Hike
Warning Sign
Yosemite Half Dome Hike
Perched
Yosemite Half Dome Hike
Slabs
Yosemite Half Dome Hike
Take it In

We spent as much time as we could at the summit, but kept in mind that thunderstorms were in the forecast for the morning. Few things will get the blood pumping like looking down at the cables and realizing you have to navigate down while others are sliding by. We reached the bottom and spent a few moments to take it all in.

Yosemite Half Dome Hike
Half Dome
Yosemite Half Dome Hike
On Her Way Down
Yosemite Half Dome Hike
Eye of a Needle

The weather was quite pleasant on the way down due to the sun blocking out much of the suns heat. We passed a deer feeding about 10 feet from the trail, and was obviously very accustomed to seeing two legged primates scampering by. The downhill usually feels longer for me on most hikes, but this one just flew by, and before I knew it, I found myself showering clean at Curry Village and readying myself to drive home.

Yosemite Half Dome Hike
The Deer
Yosemite Half Dome Hike
Google Earth
Yosemite Half Dome Hike
Google Earth

I'm Drew, creator of Trail to Peak. Trail to Peak brings content to life on the web through breath-taking photography and captivating video. I launched Trail to Peak in 2014 with a goal to inspire readers to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors. I have traveled to 19 countries, walked Camino de Santiago, hiked the John Muir Trail, trekked through the Andes of Peru, and am constantly seeking new adventures in my home state of California. Joining me on my weekly adventures is my partner, Julia, our son, Owen, and our two goldendoodles, Isla and Lilly.

3 comments on “Half Dome Yosemite Hike via the Mist Trail

  1. What a peculiar shape!

  2. You two never stop, I love it! I’d love to do that hike, not sure if my boyfriend would as he is afraid of heights! I’m recovering from an illness and have doctor’s orders of no hiking for another week, I’m having serious mountain withdrawals!!

    • It’s definitely a fun one, but not for those who don’t like heights. I’ve been up on the granite dome with the cables a few times now, and it still gets my heart pumping. The way down seems a bit more harrowing as you can see how far you have to fall. The day before my first attempt, a thunderstorm hit and a girl slipped and died. I almost called things off, but am glad I made my way up.

      Hopefully you’ll be back on the trails soon!

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