The alarm roused us from our sleep at 3:00AM. We quickly brushed our teeth, grabbed our breakfast and hiking packs that we readied the night before, and jumped in the car. We arrived at the Trailhead Parking Lot around 4:00AM. We had decided that Alex and Sam would hike together, and Dave and Kevin would hike together in case Kevin’s battered feet proved to be a problem. Alex and Sam started off hiking by headlamp at 4:12AM, with Dave and Kevin starting 5 minutes behind them after taping up Kevin’s feet.
Alex and Sam found themselves at the base of the cables at 8:00AM. They were stoked about their progress, especially since Sam’s original goal was to be on the top of Half Dome by 10:00! Hiking in the cool morning air, with no sun on them until they made their way up the stone stairs of the subdome, was a big help! There were a few people already on the cables, and a larger guided group getting ready to start, so the pair took a few pictures and took in the surrounding views before starting on the cables. Within 20 minutes of cable jugging they were high-fiving on the summit. They found a nice big rock to lay claim to, took off their shoes and socks, and began to maul the pepperoni and cheese wraps, apples, goldfish crackers, and pretzels they brought along. As they snacked, Alex checked her phone to see if they had any cell reception and messages from their other halves. Dave and Kevin had sent a message saying they were half way up the subdome! That is AWESOME! Kevin’s battered feet must not have slowed him down! That means they should be here soon!
Around 8:50, Alex heard someone walking up behind them, turned around, and jumped up with happiness that it was Dave. He said he had pretty much run up the cables as fast as possible; to the point that it actually made him out of breath... it was a blast! Kevin was still working his way up the cables, but should be there soon.
At 9:00AM, Kevin made his appearance, looking exhausted and ready to nap. He mumbled a few nearly indiscernible words, mostly about napping, before settling down leaning on the rock the rest of the group was sitting on. However, instead of napping, Kevin pulled out his phone, and realizing there was cell reception, began playing Castle Clash, while the rest of the group giggled at the ridiculousness of the situation. Once everyone had eaten, Kevin was looking human again, and we were done chasing squirrels and marmots away from our area, we took a few pictures before deciding to start making our way back down the cables. It was 9:45AM and we had 9 miles of hiking until we would reach the Valley floor. We were pretty excited about the fact that barring anything going wrong, we should be relaxing by early afternoon.
The hike down the dome went pretty well with only small grumbles from Kevin about being tired and sore. The hike went by fast; on the flat top Kevin maintained a ground eating pace until an abrupt slowdown at Nevada Falls. This is end of the line for the tourists hiking the “falls” trail. This meant we only had 4 miles or about one and a half hours to go. Stumbling and slipping our way down we pushed through the hordes of tourists coming up the hill, but still making good time. With about 1.3 miles to go Dave told Kevin it would take about another twenty minutes at their pace. Kevin was not having 20 more minutes of hiking; he started down the hill in a frisky run. Without pause Dave jumped into running with Kevin plowing the way with excitement. Although hesitant at first, Alex and Sam came right behind running like little lass’s. The remaining mileage was done in no time, but the crew had another .5 miles to the car on a path.
At 1:45PM, the group was victorious at the car. With high fives flying, the group started pealing sweaty hiking clothes and replacing them with “clean” comfy camp clothes. Even Sam changed in the parking lot, hiding between opened car doors, avoiding the occasional bystander. Kevin pulled his sock off and the complete and utter destruction of his foot was apparent. His injury from two days previous was making a second shiny entry. He was so relieved to be done he could not do anything but giggle at the pain he incurred since the start of the trip. Everyone was aching for an iced beverage and eager to destroy some food from Curry Village; there is no cooking on 20+ mile hiking days.
Once in the village, tasks were divided to gather food and beverages. Kevin was the only one to bring a credit card, so he was forced to be in charge of getting food. Sam, armed with cash, was charged with going to the camp store to gather four iced victory brews! Dave stood with Kevin as moral support, Sam running to the store, but actually getting side tracked holding down the table with Alex. Alex, Dave, and Sam each feasted on chicken fingers and fries, while Kevin had a much grander feast. Kevin wanted a hamburger, hot dog, AND a grilled cheese sandwich with tomato and onion. He though this might be a bit much, so Dave offered to help eat the grilled cheese.
Once back at camp, a second hammock was hung, food thrown in the bear box, and tired hikers retreated to resting areas. Alex and Dave swung gently in hammocks, while Kevin and Sam crawled into their tent. After about a 2 hour nap, the sleepy hikers roused from their sleep for more food. While snacking on various items from the bear box, one of the members of the “noisy neighbor” party asked us if we would like “s’more cones.” We said “We think so…” He explained that they were sugar cones filled with mini marshmallows and chocolate chips, heated over the camp fire. “YES! We definitely would like those!” was our response. This was a genius idea; all the goodness of a s’more, minus the oooey gooey mess. We talked with them for a while before sleep became imminent, and then thanked them again for the delicious treat, before heading off for a good night’s sleep.