This might just top all the crazy weekends that I have had! The half dome hike is one of the lottery hikes, and there are two types of lotteries you can try, the pre-season and the daily. The application to the pre-season lottery is in March every year, and 225 permits are available for each day. You can apply for any day from late May to early October, as long as the cable is up, and the result is in by mid-April. For the daily lottery, approximately 50 permits will be available each day during the hiking season. The daily lotteries have an application period of two days before the hiking date and the results will be available online late that night.
So, this is what happened. We entered the lottery Thursday morning for the hike on Saturday, thinking that it's unlikely we are going to get it the first try. We checked the result around midnight and found that we actually GOT IT! Immediately, I texted my hiking buddy and started the preparation. In the next 15 hours (on top of working in lab and sleep), we managed to freeze a bunch of water bottles, made 15 sandwiches, bought some gloves, got some bars and snacks, packed a bag, booked the hotel and hopped on the road to Fresno!
My hiking buddy and I managed to find 3 other people to join us in such short notice. A group of 5 Asian girls~ definitely a rare find for this hike. We stayed in Fresno for the night because that's the closest city we can find with empty rooms and a decent price. We left the hotel at 4:30 in the morning to drive to the trail head (shuttle bus stop #16 Happy Isles). We started hiking at about 7:30am, and we ended up getting back to the car at about 9pm. A total of 15 miles, 4800 feet elevation gain and 13.5 hours, it was very exhausting but it's also very rewarding.
The left picture shows the most famous or infamous part of the hike, the cables! You will definitely need a pair of gloves for this, and it is not as scary as it looks, but it is pretty damn hard to get up there without some arm strength (I was holding on to the cable way harder than I needed to, and my arms ARE SO SORE). But the view on top and the feeling of being on the top of the world will make you forget everything! When you are up on the dome, that is pretty much the tallest point around, and I have to say.... I feel pretty damn accomplished.
On the way to the half dome, we passed by two beautiful waterfalls, trees and forests, we saw a deer, marmots, chipmunks and squirrels, it was overall a very enjoyable hike. This is definitely one of the bucket list hike items for fellow hikers! One more thing that I checked off on my list! (Although the list is constantly getting longer lol)
Below are some random pictures during the hike~