We’re preparing to hike from Tenaya Lake to Yosemite Valley this summer. We have done all the early planning, and were granted the wilderness permit and most of the reservations, so now it is time to do more detailed planning. The biggest detail still in question is whether to backpack over Clouds Rest or to leave our tents and packs at the base of Clouds Rest, hike up and back down with just a light load.
The elevation change and the effort to carry a pack is not the biggest issue. The biggest issue is the narrow, uneven, and treacherous trail. I believe I’ve pretty much overcome my fear of heights. I had no issues at all during hikes in Yosemite and the Grand Canyon last year, and there were definitely trails that had serious drop-offs next to them. I do have a couple of reasons to think Clouds Rest will be different. First the trail is not well-defined, which can be an issue for me as I generally trust the stability of a trail that hundreds or thousands of people followed before me. This may not be that bad though in this case because it is so narrow, the options are very limited. Secondly I have not had to deal with a trail that drops off severely on both sides. In the case of Clouds Rest, in the most difficult area, the trail is the width of a side-walk, very uneven, and there is a 2000 foot drop on one side and a 3000 foot drop on the other. You have to pass that area to get to the summit, but never having been on this type of trail before, I’m not sure I want to do it with a 40-45 pound pack on my back. I know from past experience that a pack like that affects my balance and it reduces my ability to recover from a loss of balance. I’ve never fallen before, but I am less confident with a large pack on.
Another plan has emerged that calls for us to hike all the way from Tenaya Lake to Little Yosemite Valley on the first day, then do day hikes up Clouds Rest and Half Dome. I like the idea, but officially there are restrictions on camping at Little Yosemite Valley on the first night if you start at Tenaya Lake, so we may have to stop a couple of miles short of the Little Yosemite Valley campgrounds, then finish moving to Little Yosemite Valley in the morning to hopefully get a good camp site. The nice thing about being base camped at Little Yosemite Valley is that we could hike up and back down Clouds Rest from the Half Dome side or hike all the way over and then back around in the single day without deciding whether to carry a backpack. It will also give us two-day hike days with no backpacking while we hike Clouds Rest and Half Dome, then on the fourth day we’ll pack up and head down to Yosemite Valley for a well deserved night at The Ahwahnee.
Previous post for this trip: Half Dome Hike Early Planning
Next planning post for this trip:Clouds Rest and Half Dome Backpacking Trip (Snow 2011)
Or jump right to the Half Dome Hike: Yosemite (2011) (Part 2 – Backpacking to Little Yosemite Valley and Hiking Half Dome)