Travel adventures of 2013

I clearly didn’t manage to write the follow up posts of the ‘Training for Half Dome’ series I had ambitiously started last year. Nov and Dec were consumed with holiday season festivities, cooking, shopping, and preparing for ‘The India trip’ in Dec, which is always a huge project. However, the pending posts are weighing heavily on my ‘blogging conscience’, so here is a summary of the Half Dome hiking and the remaining travel adventures from 2013.

Half Dome practice hike 3: Grand Canyon National Park

We hiked the maximum recommended for a day hike, which is half-way down to the canyon floor. We turned around at Skeleton Point, from where you first get a glimpse of the mighty Colorado river, vowing to backpack to the base on our next visit.

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We were lucky to get up close and personal with some mule deer and elk.

We had an extra day in AZ, which we got to spend in Monument Valley. This was also our engagement anniversary!

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Half Dome practice hike 4: Mission peak

Though we had done a few tough hikes by now, none were as steep as the Mist Trail that we would encounter right at the beginning of our Half Dome hike. The closest in gradient was Mission Peak in Fremont, so we decided that would be our last practice hike. Mission peak was my least favorite of the hikes we did, not because of the gradient but because of the crowds! There were people hiking with boomboxes playing loud music. The views from the top were worth it though!

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Half Dome practice hike 5: Del Valle

Two weeks were now left for our Half Dome hike and we were feeling pretty good. However, in going over the travel planning with our Half Dome co-hikers, we realized that splitting the hike over two days would be much easier than a day hike. This meant that we would be backpacking! I had never backpacked before and had no idea how I would fare with 20 pounds of weight on the Half Dome trail! So we rented backpacks from REI, loaded them with all the canned food at home, and hiked the Ohlone trail in the Del Valle recreational area in Livermore. That first hike with backpacks was hard but it made us stronger. Now we were really ready for Half Dome! We didn’t take any pictures on this one.

Half Dome

The Half Dome hike deserves it’s own post, but I couldn’t get around to it so the summary will have to suffice. If I were to use one word to describe the experience, it would be ‘spiritual’. The close proximity with nature, the pure atmosphere, the realization of how tiny we are in the scheme of things, the hard work of climbing ~5000 feet…I could go on and on. But here are some pictures instead –

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Climbing the mist trail, probably the hardest part of the entire hike.

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Catching our breath by the Vernal Falls

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We camped at night in Little Yosemite Valley. Our ultra-light two-person tent kept us warm during the chilly night.

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Day 2 – after a few hours of hiking, here we are at sub-dome. Ready to tackle the ropes!

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On top of Half Dome. It was completely worth it and I can’t wait to do it again!

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