For my first hike in Yosemite I picked what sounded like a good “warm-up/acclimatization” trip: North Dome, which lies on the other side of Half Dome above Yosemite Valley. The hike begins at Tioga Pass Road as a downhill walk through the woods, then climbs up “a bit” before it goes down again to North Dome.
I picked the hike after reading the description on the (excellent) Yosemite Hikes website, and somehow missed the “Trail Notes” section, which mentions that while there is a small net loss of elevation, there’s plenty of ups and downs in between – and the total elevation loss/gain is 700 m (2300 ft) according to my GPS log (link below the gallery).
In retrospect, that’s not exactly the type of ascent/descent I should have picked for the first day and hike at this altitude, and after a rather sleepless night (see previous post). Even less so considering that I was hauling the camera, two lenses and the tripod along…
But it turned out that bringing the tripod and the telezoom lens was absolutely right: Half Dome’s spectacular northwest face was still almost fully in the shade, and I was able to practice one of my favorite types of photography: detail extractions and abstractions with the long telephoto lens – something that I of course had hoped for, so I considered myself lucky that the smoke that day was not too much of an issue.
The good thing was of course that my backpack was considerably lighter on the way back up, since I had eaten my sandwich, fruits and snacks by then… and that I had already made the photos and knew that they were worth the struggle back uphill to the trailhead. :) Still, when I was back at my car I was pretty much toast, and decided to not make the day any longer by waiting for sunset. Instead, I drove to my motel for a shower, nap and warm dinner, in order to be relaxed for the hike to Clouds Rest that I had planned for the next day.
I’ve logged the hike to North Dome with GaiaGPS and you can view the tracklog here: North Dome & Indian Rock. A marked and short side-trail leads to Indian Rock, a natural bridge/rock arch from which one can see Half Dome.
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