Justin and I started out on Thursday night and spent the night in Stockton to save a few extra hours for sleeping the next day. The only sites available now are on a first come-first serve basis, so we wanted to make sure we could get a campsite if we failed in a back country permit. Reserve campsites are taken 24 weeks in advance. Also backpacking permits (reserves are all taken) are taken 24 weeks in advance, the remaining 40% are on a first come-first serve, 2 days before. We started out at just past 5:30 AM from Stockton. We arrived at the West Park gate at 7:30 AM having made excellent time driving from Stockton. The ranger station opened promptly at 8:00 for back country permits. I was successful in obtaining one for Little Yosemite Valley. The campsite FCFS sign-up doesn't open until 9:00 am.
With our permit hot in hand, we headed on down to the valley. We started out from the parking lot near Curry Village around 10:30 and made the top of Vernal Falls by High Noon. We reached Little Yosemite Valley around 3:30 in the afternoon. We cooled off in the lake, and there were plenty of campsite available. After a good night dinner (beef stew) we took a hike around the valley.
The next morning I cooked breakfast, and then we headed up the mountainside toward Half Dome around 7:30 AM(see links below). This is a 10 miles strenuous hike, 5000 ft elevation gain, with the last 500 ft up the cable stairway. Many people have reached the cables and turned around-refusing to climb the last 500 ft to the summit. We reached the base of the cables about 10:30 am. Justin, showing his disregard for reason and safety again, only brought along 1 small pint of water. Which means he was mooching my water from me. Those who know me, knows that I carry lots of water (up to a gallon).
Justin made it swiftly up the cables. I had to stop and rest because I used my arms too much, and my hands were swollen, making it hard to grip the cable. I found a spot to sit and brace my foot again the cable support. I can say that at a few spot, I almost gave up and turned around, not trusting my ability to grip the cables and a little fear of the climbing angle. At the end, I made it to the top about 20 minutes after Justin.
Coming down, we took the outside of the cables because the interior was filled with climbers. I used my rapeling experience and literally ran down the side of the cliff. I would guess that it only took about 10 minutes to come down the cables.
About 15 people were originally schedule for this car camping/back packing trip. Because of various reasons, most could not make it on this particular date. I will plan a car camping in May 2004 and see what happens.