So, you're in Yosemite and you want to hike Half Dome. Good idea, I guess.
You didn't reserve a permit months in advance. Whatever will you do?
Allow me to share a secret with you all: you don't need to have reserved a Half Dome permit ahead of time to climb the iconic Yosemite landmark.
I know, mind blown. I'll give you a second.
But how? Do you simply risk being caught venturing up without a permit? Do you scale the side of the sub dome in hopes of slipping past the ranger security? Do you just scale the face?
Well if you were awesome you could do any one of those things.
Unfortunately you are not that awesome, but fortunately there is an easier way up Half Dome: plan an overnight backpacking trip and include Half Dome as a part of your itinerary.
What? I'll explain.
If you plan on spending a night in the backcountry in Yosemite, then you need to go to a ranger station and get yourself a permit for your proposed plan. You need:
- An entry point
- An exit point
- An amount of time you plan on being away from the crowds
Permits cost a mere $5 each (and are recommended – rangers are lurking).
You may also opt to include Half Dome as a part of your itinerary and for an additional $8 per permit (at the time of my writing this).
Just like that you've legitimized a trip of the Half Dome.
I learned this firsthand when Mr. Moist and myself ventured into the Valley and found ourselves with Half Dome permits of our own.
At the ranger station we are instructed to propose our trip, at which point we will be told whether or not there are permits available for our starting date and point of entry.
Point of entry? Yes, point of entry – now pay attention.
Whether or not you are issued a wilderness permit depends on whether or not some mysterious number of other people already have permits issued for your intended point of entry on that particular day.
This means that after your initial plan is rejected, you can simply change your trip's starting point (or push your entry back a day) to try your luck again (and it is possible that this will have very little overall impact on your trip as many starting points are located nearby one another).
Don't say I never taught you anything.
After our being rejected a couple of times, we resort to asking the ranger which trailhead has space (we're desperate, we'll take anything).
She suggests that we hike straight up out of the valley from near Mirror Lake (this entry had space for a reason).
Not caring where our trip starts we happily accept.
Two days later we are at Half Dome, permits in hand.