Camping in Yosemite Valley | Hiking Half Dome

Hiking Half Dome in the Off Season

Yosemite is one of the most breathtaking places we have ever visited. While the desert landscape has the most delicate hidden beauty, the landscape in the middle of California is drop dead gorgeous and in your face. The towering pine trees and blasting waterfalls are right there and you can feel the mist. There is so much to see, do, and admire that even if you spent an entire lifetime in Yosemite National Park, you wouldn’t have seen every single thing this place has to offer.

We were able to score a reservation in the Valley at the Upper Pines Campground for 4 nights all thanks to https://www.yesyoucamp.com/ The Valley campgrounds are booked up at least 6 months in advance, so the only way to get a site last minute is to get a cancelation. That is where this website shines! Through this site you can put in the preferred dates of where and when you’d like to camp. You pay a small fee, we went with the $12 option, and you are notified when a campsite becomes available near or on your preferred dates. So that’s how we got a spot in the valley!

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On the first few days we did all the major attractions, like lower Yosemite falls, Bridal Veil Falls, the Valley View trial, and we even took a climbers trail to the base of a famous climbing route on El Captain called “The Nose.”

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We were able to do a bit of trad climbing as well! The views from the top of even the simplest routes were just stunning.

Our main goal for this trip was to hike to the top of Half Dome. Half Dome is a world famous hike and certainly not one for the faint of heart. We were there during the off season so there was no need to get a permit, which is SUPER difficult to get. It is a 16-18 mile hike as well with almost 5,000 feet of elevation so it takes on average 10-14 hours to complete. Of course we have the dogs, who are not allowed to hike this trail, so we wanted to make sure we weren’t gone too terribly long for their sake. Half Dome is also VERY dangerous in poor weather we so we kept a close eye on the forecasted conditions.

We saved the hike for the end of the week, knowing we would be super tired. We packed our backpacks the night before and started the hike around 5:30AM. We made it through the mist trail and to the top of Nevada Falls before sunrise.

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I’m not going to lie, it was a hard hike for me! But my treking poles really helped. By the time we made it to the sub dome we were so tired, but the cables were right there, we had to finish the hike and get to the summit of Half Dome. We tied into the cables using some climbing gear and a little no how and started up the near vertical granite slab. Our calves were burning and my arms were like jelly from holding on to and holding up the heavy cables, but we did make it to the top.

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It was quite the site to be seen! I had never seen a landscape more beautiful, no not even the grand canyon can compare, to the masterpiece before us.

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The hike back down we brutal, but we made it back to the car after 10 and a half hours of hiking. Mission accomplished. And it was well worth it!

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