One of the world’s most sought after hiking “trophies” is Half Dome at Yosemite National Park in California. This an 8,842 ft high rock dome that appears to have been cut in half. Although many think glaciers came by and sheared off the north edge, in reality it was just exfoliation along a weak fault. Give nature enough time and it can do such things.
The hike is a long one. Most can do the 16-mile round trip in about 12 hours. It’s not just the distance but the altitude gain. It runs from the trailhead at 4,000 feet to the top – almost a mile up. The crux is the final 400 vertical feet where hikers use a 1919 vintage cable system to ascent to the summit. This is at a 45 degree angle and is 600 feet long.
The hike got extremely crowded over the years as many wanted to “bag” the peak. In 2008 and 2009 over 1,000 people a day did the hike. The lines just to touch the cables ran 45 to 60 minutes. Not a fun experience.
In 2010 the park instituted a permit system. This year, a lottery is going on during March. Applications are via recreation.gov. Any day during March hikers can apply for up to six people good all summer – for one hike. By mid-April, winners are chosen. Only 225 per day are given out for $8.00 each. June is very popular and hikers are advised to apply for later in the summer for better odds.