Hiking Half Dome – Junior Ranger Alyssa

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Junior Ranger Alyssa’s Half Dome Experience

Hiking Half Dome is lots of fun. My sister and I hiked to the top of Half Dome on June 6, 2014 (Samantha was 9 and I was 11).

This is my experience about my trip and some tips to help you if you ever want to hike Half Dome. First, you must wake up early. the best time to wake up at is 4:00. You need to wear something comfy. Have a good solid breakfast we had peanut butter and butter toast. It gives you lots of calories to start of your day! When we got there we put on our backpacks and started walking. If you start on the trail about 5:00 am then you will not need to put on bug spray. Something that might have helped us on the first part is to stretch because the first part was the hardest for me. It is straight uphill a great way to warm up your muscles. When you get to the bridge it is absolutely beautiful. This is a great opportunity to take a beautiful picture. Once you keep going there will be lots of steps. I like this part because you can count the steps. Once you get to the step part put on a rain poncho. This is the part where you will get wet (you will see Vernal Falls). When I went I counted 695 steps. Whew that is a lot of steps. When we got to the top of Vernal we had a Bobo Bar. They are very nutritious and yummy. When you get to the top you really need to get a picture. Please do not go over the railing or in the water. Once you are on top of Vernal Falls – this would be a good time to put on bug spray because by then the mosquitoes are out. Once you start hiking to Nevada Falls there will be more stairs. I gave up counting stairs. This would also be good time to slow down and enjoy the wilderness and make sure you do not get tired. Once we got to the top of Nevada Falls we put on sunscreen and hats. We had some homemade trail mix. Then suddenly a little head popped up and another. They were squirrels! They came sniffing around for some food. It is really important to not feed the squirrels because they will become dependent on humans for food. Then we headed off to Half Dome.

As we were walking we played the animal game and the 20 question place game. To play the animal game someone thinks of an animal and gives us a hint. Then, we had to ask yes or no questions until we figured out there animal. The animal can only be a mammal. To play the 20 question game you have to think of a place anywhere. You do not give them a hint and they get 20 yes or no questions.  If they do not get it in 20 questions then you tell them and the next oldest person goes. As we walk to Half Dome there is a campground called Little Yosemite.  This will be your last bathroom on the trail. As you keep walking, at some point there will be a marker saying 2 more miles. Do not be upset because there is a fun part. Once you have hiked the last two miles you will come to the last set of  stairs. You need a permit to go up the stairs and cables so make sure

Half Dome - 2 Mile Marker
Half Dome – 2 Mile Marker

you get a permit. When I went up the stairs I had lots of fun. When you are halfway up the stairs there is a part with no stairs. You will need a pair of gloves to climb up that part (you will need to climb like a monkey – super fun!). Once you reach the top take a long break. You will need lots of energy to get up the cables. There you will need a harness to keep yourself safe. You need a carbineer too. Put the carbineer and hook it to the cables. Once you go up the first cable get a good grip and put your carabiners on the next cable. Keep doing that till the top. The best way to prepare for this part is to take lots of walks and go hike an easier hike like Lassen Peak (Lassen National Park) so you can get used to the altitude. While going up the cables take a look at the view. It is absolutely beautiful. The reason why you need to get used to the altitude is because you can get sick. At the top, we ate and took a few pictures before we left. Going down I thought was harder because we had to walk backwards. On our way back down the trail it started raining. That was a lot of fun. We also got to see a bear!

The safest and fastest way to get down is the John Muir Trail. You may feel upset that you need to go that way but it is the best. Once you get to the John Muir Trail your legs will be tired but that is o.k. because you are almost there. Once you are down just wait for the next bus to come and pick you up and take you to the parking lot. When you are done put on some flip flops and go get some pizza. The pizza only taste good after you hike Half Dome. I hope you are encouraged to enjoy this amazing hike to Half Dome. Happy hiking.

Things to bring on your Amazing Hike to Half Dome:


  • Water-Water and more Water (You don’t want to run out)
  • Bobos Bars (link to there website: http://bobosoatbars.com
  • bug spray
  • sun screen
  • gloves
  • harness
  • trail mix
  • lunch
  • camera~ you never know when you need it
  • gators
  • first aid kit
  • mole skin
  • good hiking boots (make sure you break these in before you start your hike)
  • flip flops (for when you are done with the hike)
  • good hiking socks
  • poncho
  • A GOOD ATTITUDE!  Remember, you are doing something cool and amazing!


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