Planning & Itinerary for Half Dome

August 19, 2012

About two months before the trip my friend told me he had a few extra permits for the hike, and he put the offer out to other friends as well so he could try to get a small group together.  Two of my friends had four passes so they were trying to find another couple to go.  Luckily for me, there was no other couple that was able to go so I joined them and the three of us spent the weekend together doing this amazing hike.  One of the permits went unused unfortunately, but it was definitely better that we had too many than too few.

Hiking and Camping Permits

There are two types of permits that are needed to hike Half Dome hike and to camp overnight at the campgrounds.  “Day-hike permits” are required to hike Sub Dome and to get to the top of Half Dome.  The permit is required to do the cable hiking, which leads to the very top of Half Dome, and to hike Sub Dome (which in my opinion is more demanding than the cables).  The reason Yosemite requires permits is to control traffic in certain areas.  The approximately 600 foot cable portion is very steep and dangerous so not many people can use it at one time, so this area is crowd controlled.  Everyone can hike about 90% of the trail without a permit but by requiring the permits for this portion they’re able to control traffic to 400 people per day.

The second type of permit is the “Wilderness permit” and it is required to camp anywhere in the park.  In order to camp at Little “Yosemite Valley campground”, which is along the main hiking trail, a reservation is required which is tough to get because there is very limited space for campsites.  With a general wilderness permit, camping is allowed almost anywhere in the park except within certain areas.  In the case of hiking Half Dome, in order to camp freely it has to be done a minimum of more than 2 miles from the campgrounds.  Because we failed to make a reservation at the Little Yosemite Valley campgrounds, which we thought the permits we had covered us for, we had to go out of the area and camp on our own which in my opinion was one of the best things about the whole hike (entire blog post to come about the camping).

My friends had four day-hike permits, but not a wilderness permit.  Their intention was to make reservations at the Little Yosemite Valley campsite but the night before we started the hike, while finishing our packing, we realized we only had day-hike permits but that we’d likely need a wilderness permit to camp overnight.  The next morning, when we set out to do our hike, we went to the park office and they gave us the information on where we could camp.  So long as we were more than 2 miles away from Little Yosemite Valley campsite, we were ok.  On the map, the ranger marked a small creek and told us to make sure to reach the creep.  At that point would know for sure we were in the area where we were supposed to camp.

This sign is just past Little Yosemite Valley campgrounds as a final check to make sure you have the required permits if you’re planning to hike to the top.


Tuesday— Full day of school in Tampa, including an exam.  Then a late night flight from Tampa to San Francisco, arriving into SF at 11:50pm.  My friends rented a ZipCar and picked me up from the airport.

Wednesday— Spent the morning/afternoon in SF on my own, then when my friends got off work we headed to the mountains.  We left SF about 6pm and arrived at our hotel near Yosemite around 11pm.

Thursday— Woke up early, went for a swim in the hot tub, checked out of hotel around 11am.  It took a few hours to get situated, park our car, and start hiking.  We began hiking at around 3pm which gave us about 4-5 hours of hiking before the sun went down.  We camped overnight on the side of the mountain by our selves at a spot we found about 10 minutes before the sun set.

Friday— HALF DOME!  We woke up at our camp site around 7am and set out on our full day of hiking.  We had to make it to the top of half dome and all the way back to the bottom by time the sun went down so we had about 12 hours to do it all.  After the hike, we checked into our hotel inside the park.  We were exhausted so we had a quick pizza dinner at the nearby restaurant and called it an early night.

Saturday— Woke up, checked out of hotel room and had lunch in the park.  We had lunch at the Ahwahnee Hotel which is the nicest hotel in the park.  We couldn’t afford to pay the $500+ per night it costs to stay there but having lunch there was a good way to go see what we missed.  After lunch we drove to another vantage point that overlooks the valley that we hiked in, and then we had to hit the road back to San Francisco because the car rental was due by 6pm.

Sunday— Spent the morning/afternoon in the city and at Dolores Park.  Evening/overnight flight back to Tampa leaving SF at about 8:30pm.  Due to missing my connecting flight in Phoenix, I arrived back in Tampa around noontime on Monday afternoon.


Half Dome Permits for Day Hiking

Wilderness Permit Information

Camping Information at Little Yosemite Valley

Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite Park


Hiking Half Dome Yosemite National Park

June 5, 2012

Today I leave on a trip to California to spend the weekend hiking in Yosemite National Park.  I have an Accounting exam in class today and then tonight I fly to San Francisco.  Tomorrow, Wednesday, I’ll spend the morning and afternoon in the city by myself while my friends are working and around evening time we’ll head to Yosemite so we can start hiking first thing Thursday morning.  Saturday afternoon we’ll head back to San Francisco and probably go out for dinner and drinks.  My flight back to Florida is at 8:00pm on Sunday so I’ll have one last day in SF to go around before I wake up Monday morning in FL with a full day of classes, including another exam.

Flying alone is one of my favorite things to do so I’m really looking forward to flying tonight.  I have a layover in Washington, DC so it’ll be a 2 hour flight with a 45 minute layover, and then a 6hr flight cross country.  I always say to myself that I’m going to start reading a good book or I’m going to study for school, but most often I typically do nothing more than stare off into space out the window with endless thoughts.  Or if I’m not in a window seat then I stare off at no place specific.  I very rarely listen to music or have a headset on and I hardly ever watch TV unless it’s a JetBlue flight on the East Coast which I don’t fly often.  So tonight I look forward to another day of flying because California is one of my favorite places to visit and knowing that I’ll be waking up in a 15th floor apartment in downtown SF with the city at my fingertips for the day makes me a very happy person!

One of my favorite places in the United States: Marin Headlands north of the Golden Gate Bridge, December 2010

2012 Goal: Around-the-world trip

December 31, 2011

I’ve read about around-the-world plane tickets before and I understand the concept, but I’ve never actually searched for an itinerary before.  My sister is going to Bahrain soon for a year to two years and I’d love to visit Dubai.  Also, a friend in Colombia would like to visit Morocco and Egypt this summer and I’d love to visit those places as well.  Unfortunatley, Egypt isn’t really safe to travel to so we’ll have to keep and eye and see how things are at the right time.  If I were to purchase an around-the-world plane ticket, then I’d have to continue traveling East which would take me to India and possibly Nepal and visit with my uncle if he’s able to make it during that time.  And then to top it off, my friend Heather’s dad lives in Korea and would like for her to visit so I could meet her in Korea and then maybe visit another country such as Japan with her.

The actual itinerary for what’s above is more than I would be able to spend so I’m going to research further and maybe add additional stops such as New York City and London and it can possibly reduce the price a bit.  I figure if I even only go and visit my sister in Bahrain and that’s it then I’ll still be extremely happy.  Cheers to 2012!!!  Happy travels to everyone out there!

This time in two weeks I’ll be in China.

May 28, 2011

Eight months ago when I was considering signing up to go on a group trip with Hillsborough Community College to China it felt like it was lightyears away.  But here it is less than two weeks until departure and I’m realizing that it’s going to be here before I know it.  I have 12 days before I leave to look up as much information on the places I’ll be visiting.  I’m planning on watching a few videos on NetFlix and I want to look up each places on the itinerary so I have an idea of what’s in store.

For previous trips, I rarely would do a lot of research because I liked to see places without knowing too much.  Also, the anticipation of a big trip, especially an international trip, really sucks dealing with so the best approach for me is to continue concentrating on work and the other things I have going on and then before I know it the trip will be here.  Then of course I have to completely adjust and slow down so that the trip goes by as slow as possible.

CHINA 2011

The evening of June 9th I fly from NYC to Tampa, arriving at 12:30am.  On June 10th my flight to China leaves at 6am so we need to arrive at the airport by 4am, so I’ll stick around the airport and wait for the morning to come.  We fly through Chicago and then onward to Shanghai.

In Shanghai we’ll visit a handful of places and we’ll also have some time on our own to explore.  The Bund is one of the most famous tourist areas of Shanghai.  The stretch of road which is The Bund houses 52 buildings with various architectural styles.  This website recommends a bunch of things to do in the area.

Shanghai French Concession

Frommer’s doesn’t seem thrilled about the Yu Garden, mainly saying it’s overrun with tourist

Jade Buddha Temple

Shanghai Acrobatic Show

Black Dragon Pool

Lijiang Wangfu Hotel

Jade Snow Mountain (2)

Yufeng Monastery

Naxi Ancient Music performance

Shangri-la Golden Flower Hotel

Terra Cotta Warriors

Big Wild Goose Pagoda

Great Mosque and Museum Quarter

Tang Dynasty Dinner Show

Dunhuang travel guide

Bicycling rental in Dunhuang

Festivals in Dunhuang

Magao Grottoes (pics)

Crescent Moon and Singing Sand Dunes

Sandsurfing YouTube video

Peking duck dinner and Peking Opera

Sofitel Wanda hotel

Tian’anmen Square (protests)

Forbidden City (2)

Temple of Heaven and Hutong Tour

Mutianyu Great Wall

Sacred Way

Day 1, June 10 — Departure from Tampa International Airport to Shanghai, China

Day 2, June 11 — Group arrival in Shanghai and group transfer to the Hilton hotel

Day 3, June 12 — Full day tour of Shanghai including: the Bund, Old French Concession, Yu Garden, Old City Bazaar and Jade Buddha Temple. Evening Acrobatic Show with transfer (B,L,D)

Day 4, June 13 — Fly from Shanghai to Lijiang via Kunming by air including transfers. Afternoon visit to Black Dragon Pool and the Ancient Town of Lining. Overnight at Lijiang Wangfu Hotel (B,D)

Day 5, June 14 — Visit Jade Snow Mountain ( including chairlift ) Yufeng Monastery. In the evening enjoy a Naxi Ancient Music performance (B,L)

Day 6, June 15 — Fly to Xian via Kunming with transfers included. Enjoy an evening Dumpling Dinner. Overnight at the Shangri-la Golden Flower hotel (B,L)

Day 7, June 16 — Full day tour of the Terra Cotta Warriors, Big Wild Goose Pagoda, Great Mosque and Muslim Quarter. Evening Tang Dynasty Dinner Show with transfers (B,L,D)

Day 8, June 17 — Fly from Xian to Dunhuang by air including transfers. Camp overnight in the desert (in 2 person tents) with campfire and sunset dinner (B,D)

Day 9, June 18 — Full day tour of Mogao Grottoes , Crescent Moon and Singing Sand Dunes, Sand surfing and camel ride (B,L)

Day 10, June 19 — Fly from Dunhuang to Beijing by air with transfers. Enjoy a Peking Duck dinner followed by Peking Opera. (B,D) Overnight at the Sofitel Wanda hotel

Day 11, June 20 — Full day tour of Tian’anmen Square, Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven and Hutong Tour (B,L)

Day 12, June 21 — Mutianyu Great Wall and Sacred Way (B,L)

Day 13, June 22 — Return travel to Tampa, FL

December 2010/January 2011 Big Trip Itinerary

January 3, 2011

12/19/2010:  New York City to San Francisco

12/26/2010:  San Francisco to Honolulu

12/29/2010:  Honolulu to Tampa

1/5/2011:  Tampa to Black Mountain, North Carolina

1/8/2011:  Asheville, NC to New York City