I got up from the top bunk where I slept and began quietly putting on my hiking gear. My roommates woke up to wish me well and see me off. We hit the road shortly after 2:30am. The drive took us longer than an hour because of road construction. We got to the trailhead around 4:30am and began the hike shortly after that. It was dark and very cold. We actually started out on the wrong trail at first because we couldn’t tell where we were going. All of us had headlamps, but it was easy to lose one’s sense of direction.
Prior to this hike, I had never hiked in the dark where I had to use a flashlight or headlamp. I wasn’t afraid, though, because there were about 12 or 13 of us and all but one were in the same boat, having never reached the summit of Half Dome. I had hiked a big portion of the trail a few months before with a friend of mine when there was a lot of snow and ice, but we didn’t go anywhere near Half Dome, although that hike was quite an adventure as well, as you can see below.
Once we realized we were going the wrong way, we turned back to the parking lot so that we could figure out which way to go. Somehow, I ended up in the lead and everyone was following me. I had gained back my sense of direction, so I was confident that I wasn’t leading them wrong. However, I knew that my lead would be short lived because once we started the incline, which was not too far ahead of us, I would begin to fall further and further behind.
I don’t do very well hiking uphill for a long period of time. I usually have to take frequent breaks to catch my breath. I noticed that I had gotten better over the past few months since I had pushed myself to do more challenging hikes, but I wasn’t where I probably should have been to successfully complete the hike to Half Dome. I probably had no business attempting this hike as I had several physical ailments that made the hike even more of a challenge.