NileGuide Expert Says:
Consider doing this hike as a 2-day backpacking trip, camping in Little Yosemite Valley. You'll get a get an early start and have the summit to yourselves, avoiding some of the dayhikers. Plus, you'll enjoy the Yosemite backcountry and won't have to submit to a single 16-mile day.
East end of Happy Isle Loop Road
Yosemite National Park, CA 95389
+1 209 372 0200
NileGuide Expert tip:
Be smart and turn around if lightning or rain even threaten. Bring a filter to treat river water, so you can stay completely hydrated. Snack all day; you'll burn 5000 calories easy. Start really early and get to the cables before 11 unless you want to wait in line. New for 2011: you need to get a day hike permit for every day of the week from www.recreation.gov.
Don't try this incredible trail unless you're truly ready for a very challenging adventure. You can do it as one-day epic or as a backpack trek but either way, you need to be in top condition, with comfortable walking shoes, start up early in the morning and take in plenty of water and food as you go. If there's any chance of rain or lightning, do not
go above treeline.
This is a tough day not just because it is 16 miles round-trip, but because it is 4800' up and then down. Large numbers of people are whipped before the top, almost everyone is completely thrashed when they do make it.
Be aware that you'll need to have a new kind of permit for dayhikes every day of the week in 2011. Get these via www.recreation.gov. No one can go up the trail and the cables without either a day use permit or a Wilderness permit for overnighting en route.
The trail starts at Happy Isles and climbs quickly up along the Merced River, past 100m Vernal Fall, then 200m Nevada Fall and into Little Yosemite Valley at about the 4.5 mile mark. If you reserved a Wilderness permit, or got in line at the Wilderness Center early the day before, you can pitch your tent in the campground here. The trail then climbs up through more forest until you come out on the steep stone stairs of the 'sub-dome' and the views of the landscape below you are astonishing. This elevator shaft does in many people, but the legendary cables come next. There are two steel cables, held up by steel posts every 5m or so; 2x4's across the base of the posts help for resting. Haul yourself up here and you've earned something special. Hopefully you've saved some juice for the long descent...