When I was making arrangements for my solo-backpacking Yosemite adventure, I decided to hike Half Dome, and I decided to do it the second day I was there.
My plan was to get there early on Tuesday by myself, get acclimated, and then Wednesday I would have a scenic 18-mile adventure. Of course, that was if I could get the permit needed to scale the cables to the top.
The permit was based on a lottery system, so I was up against all of the people who hadn’t gotten their permit at the beginning of the season and were entering the required two days pre-hike to obtain it. Normally, obtaining a permit takes a few times in the lottery. That combined with the fact that I’m terrified of heights, and a little trepidatious to hike 70% the distance of a marathon, meant… I’d be totally fine if I didn’t luck out on this one.
Well, Tuesday rolled around, aka the day of my departure, and I hit a few roadblocks. I was feeling a lot of feelings about leaving my new best friend Penpal, my car needed serious last-minute maintenance, and I wasn’t even sure how to use my camper stove my dad had lent me from his Epic 70’s Mustache and Short-Shorts Backpacking Days. Or how to set up his vintage North Face tent that definitely smelled….vintage.
Or, you know, casual stuff like how to start a fire.
Then, on top of all that, I get the email saying that my permit request had gone through…and I had gotten it. I had won the lottery. I was hiking Half Dome.
In a last minute effort to prepare myself, I googled:
“how to start a fire”
“how not to die backpacking”
“hiking half dome cables”
…which did nothing if not assure me that I was completely unprepared for this trip.
I saw pictures of the hiking cables that I somehow didn’t notice were completely vertical at some points and also realized there was a reason Penpal always made the fires when we were in the national parks. My hands started sweating a little bit.
Thus, the beginning of the trip to Yosemite started out about four hours and three hundred stressors behind schedule. I had nothing to do but think in the car ride, and that was a leeeetle too much time in my head with that many things to worry about.
Oh yeah, and Half Dome? The next day. So much for getting there early and acclimating myself.
I set up my tent in the dark (for the first time) (it was a nightmare), imagining that every sound around me was a black bear and/or mountain lion and/or deranged backpacker coming for my Snickers stash.
Then, I fell asleep and woke up at 5am to snuffling noises outside my tent. I kid you not, I was too scared to look, but there was something out there, and it was big, and it was close, and it was scary.
I don’t know exactly how I fell back asleep after that, but I woke up in a few hours to sunlight and I have never, ever been happier to hear people. The sun was out, cars were driving by, the neighbs were having loud conversations about fresh air…it was glorious.
The bear noises were probably just my neighbors snoring, but there’s something about waking up happy to be alive that makes you feel better. Penpal, bears and car problems didn’t seem like that big of a deal.
I had a mountain to climb.
Want to sneak preview some Yosemite pictures? Click here, you rascal