Three weeks later it was time for the next irrigation. Dad took us to Yosemite again. He stayed the first night with us. While we were sitting around the camp that first day we started talking about the different mountains we could see he had climbed.
Dad had his binoculars focused on Half Dome. He was watching three hikers slowly making their way up the face. It was a slow process with lots of switching back and forth on the trail. The hikers were all wearing red and yellow which made it easy to follow them with the binoculars.
Dad reminded mom that he had hiked the back way to the top of Half Dome four separate times. He had also hiked the front of Glacier point twice but never the front of Half Dome. Mom made a comment about taking me and Bernie on a hike while he was back in the valley later that week. He laughed at mom and warned her not to pick a big one. He said she’d better take a “lady” trail to the bottom of Bridal Veil because she would never make it on an all day hike.
Dad left for home before we got up the next morning. Mom felt challenged and a little mad at dad for what he had told her. We spent the whole day making plans to hike the back of Half Dome the next day. We planned what to wear, what we would eat, and what we would pack. We decided on shorts, tennis shoes, and sweat shirts to wear. Food items were included, which when eaten would leave nothing to continue carrying, a camera and toilet paper.
We were up at five the next morning and out of camp by 5:30. This was before the handy little fanny packs were available and none of us had a backpack. Mom had each of us tie an extra sweat shirt around our waist in a lop-sided fashion so one arm was very long. We stuffed canteens, food, camera, and toilet paper into the arm and tied it. We each centered the swinging arm to one side so it wouldn’t keep hitting us as we hiked.
We made our way past Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls. Part of the time we stuck to the horse trail which was easier and part of the time we took shortcuts climbing hand over hand in the rocks. Several times we discovered we weren’t even on the hiking trail. When we stopped for lunch we ate with our bare feet in a creek.
We got to the last section of the hike, where you hold cables, at about 1:00. It was very scary to all three of us. One slip could have been serious but we held on tight, encouraged one another, and all made it to the top!
Looking over the edge took my breath away. It was so far down to the floor of the valley! We sat just looking up and down the valley. We located several of the waterfalls, Camp Curry, the grocery store, the stables, and two of the camp ground areas.I was sitting on top of the world! I was enjoying the view one minute and the next minute realized verbally, “Oh no, now we need to walk all the way back!” Mom and Bernie both laughed. Mom checked her watch. It was 1:30. We all quit laughing, gathered our belongings, and started back down the cable line.
The hike back to the valley floor used a different set of muscles than we had used hiking upward. We stopped to soak our feet and rest several times. We stayed on the horse trail more on the way back too. My calves were aching, my feet were sore, my heels had blisters, and when we stopped walking my legs would shake.
We passed Nevada Falls at 4:00. We passed the Vernal Falls Bridge at 5:30. We made it to Happy Isles right at 6:00. We got back to camp at 7:30, exhausted. We sat at camp very quiet for a few minutes. Mom fixed melons and sandwiches for us to eat. We gathered at the table and started chattering about the day. The three of us were so proud of ourselves for what we had accomplished.
It took the whole day for that hike. It left us with blisters that lasted for the rest of the trip. It was worth every step up, every step down, and every blister!
Bernie and I were very proud of ourselves but I think mom was even more proud of herself. She had accomplished something dad didn’t feel she could do and she had proven him wrong. When she kissed me goodnight she was grinning from ear to ear. “I can’t wait for dad to get back so I can tell him what we did.”
Two days later dad was back. He told mom how the farm was doing and asked how we’d been. She winked at me and Bernie. She told him the weather had been beautiful, we’d seen fourteen deer, and then added, “Oh, and the girls and I hiked to the top of Half Dome the other day.”