Picture this if you will……You arrive at a camp site under a beautiful canopy of trees. Surrounding you are trails and other areas to explore and discover. You enter your tent, drop your bags and close your eyes and the sound you hear is a waterfall rushing, sounding like distant thunder!
I first experienced Yosemite National Park during my high school years. Yes, it was the first time I had ever seen racoons that big but the experience has left its mark on me for life. Yosemite Falls is majestic, beautiful and the sound is something that is very hard to explain. Yosemite is just one place where nature grabs you and keeps you no matter how many times you come and go from the area. It offers campsites, hiking, climbing and the opportunity to experience mother nature and God’s wonders at their best.
Half Dome is a climbers dream! Rising nearly 5,000 feet above Yosemite Valley and 8,800 feet above sea level, Half Dome is a Yosemite icon and a great challenge to many hikers.
The 14- to 16-mile round-trip hike to Half Dome is not for you if you’re out of shape or unprepared. You will be gaining elevation (for a total of 4,800 feet) most of your way to the top of Half Dome. Most would say the reward is worth the effort. Along the way, you’ll see outstanding views of Vernal and Nevada Falls, Liberty Cap, Half Dome, and–from the shoulder and summit–panoramic views of Yosemite Valley and the High Sierra.
Most hikers take 10 to 12 hours to hike to Half Dome and back; some take longer. If you plan on hiking during the day, it’s smart to leave around sunrise (or earlier) and then have a non-negotiable turn-around time. For instance, if you haven’t reached the top of Half Dome by 3:30 pm, you will turn around. Check for sunrise and sunset times before you hike. Regardless, each person should carry a flashlight or headlamp with good batteries (hikers commonly struggle down the trail after dark because they don’t have a flashlight). Although the trail is well marked, you should be prepared with a good topographic map and compass and know how to use them.
Massive, ancient giant sequoias live in three groves in Yosemite National Park. The most easily accessible of these (spring through fall) is the Mariposa Grove near the park’s South Entrance, off of the Wawona Road (Highway 41). Two smaller—and less visited—groves are the Tuolumne and Merced Groves near Crane Flat. Imagine sitting beneath this or just walking past it!
If you want a true vacation spot that everyone will enjoy, visit Yosemite National Park, you will be glad you did!