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Sipping champagne on top of Half Dome (8839ft) for my 30th birthday! Cheers 2019!

by Raluca Dragomir 11 January 2019 in Outdoor 0 Comments 614 Views

I thought to share one of my travelling (not so wisely lol) experience with the community here and cheers for an adventurous and happy 2019!

Story goes back in late September 2017. My friend surprised me two years ago with a hiking trip for my 30th birthday to Yosemite National Park, part of Sierra Nevada mountains, located 4-5 hours driving north from Los Angeles. This hike is rated as extreme when it comes to difficulty level, long and steep at the beginning and end and probably the most dangerous day hike in Yosemite. You can only summit Half Dome from May through the beginning of October. For the rest of the year, the final part of the hike is closed. We were required to have a hiking permit to access the last section of the trail, which is basically climbing on cable. Most permits are awarded through a lottery that takes place at the end of March, with additional lotteries of 50 or so permits per day taking place throughout the summer two days in advance. We applied but we didn’t win the lottery. Considering the occasion, we still went for it hoping that the ranger will be nice and make an exception. After hiking most of the trail (of a total of 14.2 miles and 4800 ft elevation) we notice people are rushing down because there is a thunderstorm coming on top. Not too long later 2 rangers are running to the base as well, telling everybody that whoever chooses to continue it’s at their own risk and nobody will come to rescue them. We first started to laugh…at least nobody will check for the hiking permits lol. We thought it’s a sign for us to keep going and basically our only chance to summit. Both mountain girls with experience we knew weather is changing quickly at high altitude so we didn’t panic and kept going thinking we’ll make the final decision before last part of the trail and hoping for the best (we still had 1-2 miles to go). There were just 5 people left going up, including us. Usually the summit is very crowded and hard to have a few silent minutes to enjoy the moment or take a good picture, but we had the mountain for us. Joined by thunders and wind we made it to the top and I had one of the best experience of my life! Half Dome played hard to get but also hard to forget. It was a long and difficult hike at the end but totally worth the experience. I felt unstoppable, free and strong and I was super happy we didn’t go back. Champagne never tasted so good!