Preparing for Half Dome – Part 1

In April, I signed us up to hike Half Dome. I didn’t know much about the hike, except that it was so popular that there was a lottery to get permits. A colleague asked if I wanted to join him on the permit request, and I said “Sure, why not?”

We got lucky and won the lottery! And then realized what we had signed up for -16 miles round trip with over 4000 feet of elevation gain. The last 400 feet is a steep climb over sheer rock face. Neither of us had done anything like it before. So, in late July we decided to start training for it. The training turned out to be as much fun as the Half Dome climb!

We started with an easy but beautiful hike – the Westridge trail in Oakland’s Regional Redwood Park. What a gem of a park right in our neighborhood! Starting at the Redwood Gate, we took the West Ridge trail to the Redwood Bowl and returned by the Peak Trail -> Starflower Trail -> Stream Trail. The hike was about 6.0 miles roundtrip through gorgeous Redwood trees and past the Redwood Creek. We climbed about 800 feet on this hike.

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Next, we decided to tackle the big mountain in our backyard – Mt Diablo. We started from the Macedo Ranch Staging area, which is attractive due to the easy parking. We took Wall Point Rd up to Rock City. Unlike the previous hike, this one was hot, shade-less, and steep. The mid-day sun beat relentlessly on us as we climbed 970 feet over 4.2 miles. Though I didn’t enjoy this hike at the time, I started falling for the barren beauty of Mt Diablo. It has a certain charm that is hard to resist. So, the natural next step was to climb to the summit. That is an adventure for Part 2.

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