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- Quick drying synthetic layers including a shell. “Cotton is rotton” when it comes to endurance activities. Cotton can chafe, becomes super heavy when wet, and takes forever to dry.
- Brimmed hat
- Hiking socks (wool is best)
- Hiking boots – I wore low-rise, lightweight boots. Break them in before you go – not on the trail.
- At least 1 gallon of water per person. Or, to save yourself some weight, carry a portable water filter. The last water on the way up is at Nevada Falls.
- Plenty of high-carb, salty snacks. Trail mix, crackers, nuts, PB&J sandwiches, bananas, etc. You want things you can eat while hiking. Hike day is not the day for the Atkins Diet.
- A first aid kit
- A phone
- Gloves for the cables
- A camera
- A headlamp if you are hiking at night
- Optional but recommended: hiking poles
- Do the hike on a weekday, if you can.
- If you’re going to hike on a weekend, get up early. Plan on starting no later than 5 a.m. We were so grateful that we started early because we never felt rushed, and we beat the crowds to the top. The stream of people coming up as we were going down was astonishing.
- Know your turn around time. Give yourself a preset deadline to head back down so you don’t get stuck hiking in the dark.
- Don’t do this hike alone.
- If there is any chance of rain or lightning as you approach the top, turn around. There is no shelter on the summit. And as the numerous warning signs will remind you, lightning has struck the top of Half Dome every month of the year.
- If you’re hiking with a group, carry walkie-talkies. If the group splits up it’ s great way to keep in touch on the trail.
- If you suffer from a serious fear of heights, think twice before tackling the cables.
- Train well in advance.
- National Park Service for their recommendations for completing this strenous day hike
- Mr. Half Dome’s blog for the latest Half Dome news and tips
Hiking Half Dome inside Yosemite National Park is an incredible experience and an achievable goal for most hikers. But at 18 miles round-trip and almost 5,000 feet of elevation gain, this is not the kind of hike you do last minute. To complete it safely and successfully, one must be prepared.
In late September I had the good fortune of hiking Half Dome for the first time. There were eight of us in the group. Three had hiked Half Dome before; the other five had not. The decision to do the hike was made in July. In the two months leading up to the big day, we shared notes, met twice to discuss packing plans and logistics, and most importantly, hiked almost every weekend. Those training hikes were valuable for numerous reasons: They helped us build stamina, enabled us to come together as a group, and made us aware of our individual and collective strengths and weaknesses. Knowing your limitations is really important before tackling a hike like Half Dome.
Our hike began from the trailhead adjacent to Curry Village at 11:00 PM. We decided to hike up at night to avoid the notorious crowds at the cables, which are a frequent occurrence on summer weekends. It was a moonless night so, we each had a head lamp, which provided adequate lighting. If you decide to do a nighttime ascent, it’s recommended that you pick an evening with a full moon.
On the way up we opted for the gentler grade of the Horse Trail that veers around Vernal Falls and intersects the John Muir trail above Nevada Falls. This proved to be a good decision as it allowed us to preserve energy for the notorious steps at the subdome and the cables along the final push to the summit. On the way down we took the Mist Trail which, while incredibly scenic, is extremely steep and jarring on your knees.
Heading up the the cables Kevin Fliess 2009
It took us about 7 hours to reach the summit and we arrived on top just prior to sunrise. The views of Yosemite Valley are breathtaking and watching the sun come up over the Sierras is something I’ll treasure forever.
The Essentials – What to Wear
What to Bring
For more information on hiking Half Dome, check out these resources.
The author on “the visor” Kevin Fliess 2009
Now you can plan a trip with multiple destinations in one travel plan on TravelMuse. This has been the most requested enhancement and we’re delighted to show it to you.
How to Plan a Multi-Destination Trip:
1. From the TravelMuse homepage simply click the Start here>> link next to Multiple destinations.
2. Fill in your primary destination and click on Add destination to add other places you plan to visit on your trip.
3. Once you’re inside your Trip plan, use the handy sidebar on the left to switch destinations. As you do, you’ll be able to find hotels, restaurants, and attractions.and save the ones that interest you to trip.
For more information on Multi-Destination trip planning visit the help section.
Also In This Release – Updated Homepage Features Top Trips
We’ll be featuring some of our favorite trips — created by users and our staff — on the homepage each month. This month, the TravelMuse homepage highlights these great getaways:
Did you know that there are now more than 12,000 public trips on TravelMuse? Each of these trips can be copied and personalized. To copy and personalize a trip, just click the “Copy This Trip” button and then customize the itinerary to your liking by adding and removing items.
Let us know how you like these new capabilities on TravelMuse and as always we welcome your feedback so we can continue to improve TravelMuse.
Thanks and happy travels,
Kevin and the TravelMuse Team
About five hours north of San Francisco lies Lassen Volcanic National Park. In a state that’s full of world-famous destinations for enjoying the great outdoors (Yosemite National Park, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, Joshua Tree National Monument and more), Lassen tends to get overlooked. If you’re planning a trip there, this is to your advantage.
Last weekend, we spent three great days camping at Summit Lake South—right in the heart of Lassen. [View and/or copy and personalize our Lassen trip plan here] Summit Lake South is one of a dozen campgrounds administered by the National Park Service (NPS). Our campsite came equipped with a bear box, firepit and picnic table. There is potable water available throughout the campground, but no flush toilets. If that’s an important “luxury,” you’ll find them at Summit Lake North—a quarter of a mile up the road.
We found Summit Lake South to be a great place to camp as a family. There were other families around, which always takes some pressure off the parents. The kids met other children quickly and entertained themselves tracking chipmunks, exploring the meadow and throwing rocks into the water. The lake provided a welcome respite after morning hikes and we all enjoyed a dip into its cool, clear waters.
Summit Lake South Kevin Fliess 2009
Lassen is a comparatively small park, which makes it possible to see and do a lot in weekend. The highlights of the park include an ascent of 10,500-foot Lassen Peak, a hike to the geothermally active region known as Bumpass Hell or the Sulfur Works, or a jaunt to one of the dozen or so alpine lakes.
Since we were traveling with two young kids—ages 4 and 6—we tackled hikes that were rated easy to moderate. The Kings Creek Falls trail took us down a steep ravine past a series of spectacular cascades. Note to parents: Take the horse trail route down and the creekside trail up. We did it the other way around and wouldn’t recommend it. The hike follows the creek almost the entire way and offers ample opportunities for a quick dip of the toes.
Cascades at Kings Creek Falls Kevin Fliess 2009
The hike to Bumpass Hell was really spectacular with views of all the park’s tallest peaks visible throughout the journey. Bumpass Hell is probably the most interesting part of the park. It’s a geothermally active area that reeks of rotten eggs and features fumaroles (big steam vents blasting super-heated water vapor); bubbling mud pots; and streams of mineral rich, near-boiling water.)
Bumpass Hell Kevin Fliess 2009
If you want a great workout and million-dollar views, hike the signature mountain in the park—Lassen Peak. According to the NPS: “On May 22, 1915, an explosive eruption at Lassen Peak, the southernmost active volcano in the Cascade Range, devastated nearby areas and rained volcanic ash as far away as 200 miles to the east. This explosion was the most powerful in a 1914-17 series of eruptions that were the last to occur in the Cascades before the 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens. Lassen Peak is the largest of a group of more than 30 volcanic domes erupted over the past 300,000 years in Lassen Volcanic National Park.”
It’s a steep 2.5-mile trail up with 2,000 feet of elevation gain. Note: The final mile of the trail is closed for the season for repairs. At the top you’ll find a permament snow field and will be rewarded with 360 views of the northern Sierras and southern Cascades. On most days, Mt. Shasta is clearly visible.
Don’t overlook this great Western park. It’s not much farther from San Francisco than Yosemite and has a fraction of the summer crowds. It was our second trip to Lassen, and we will definitely go back.
Today, I am delighted to announce the latest release of the TravelMuse Planner. (From the TravelMuse homepage, just type in where you want to go to try it out.) This is the most advanced yet intuitive trip planning solution on the Web and we’re really excited to share it with you! Our goals for this release were to:
1. Make the overall process of trip planning on TravelMuse even easier and more fun.
2. Make it simpler for you to find and save relevant content—both on TravelMuse and from anywhere on the Web.
3. Create a forum for TravelMuse users to share information about the Web site and the trip planning process.
Here’s a quick rundown on the key features:
A Tripfolio That Follows You Everywhere
The Tripfolio is your virtual manila folder—a central storage container for all your travel research. It’s the place where you save anything that interests you while planning your trip. You’ll notice that the Tripfolio is now bound to the right side of the site and is present when you are using the TravelMuse Planner.
Above: When you begin a trip, your Tripfolio is empty. As you save research, it appears in your Tripfolio.
Above: Tripfolio with saved research items.
New! Embedded Web Search
It’s no longer acceptable for travel Web sites to exist as walled gardens. Consumers naturally visit multiple Web sites when planning a trip, but struggle to organize all that information.
Now, with embedded Web search, users can explore the Web and save any interesting Web pages directly to their trip plan without leaving TravelMuse—no more managing multiple windows or endless bookmarking, and no more e-mailing links back and forth to your friends while planning a vacation.
It doesn’t matter what kind of page it is: A hotel review, an article, a blog post—all of them can be saved and stored centrally. Now, co-travelers can save all of their favorite research in the same place.
TravelMuse is the first travel Web site to harness the power of the Web in this way.
The screenshot below illustrates how TravelMuse has integrated embedded Web search into the trip planning experience. Note that there are two tabs at the top of the page; one tab provides access to TravelMuse’s own great content. The second tab lets you explore the Web using embedded Web search. The power of this integrated experience is that you can save both TravelMuse content with Web content to a single place—the Tripfolio.
New! Community Forums
Have a question about TravelMuse or a great idea for a new feature? On the new community forum you can connect with other TravelMuse users and communicate with the TravelMuse product team. It’s your go-to location for product help and idea exchange.
We hope you like this new release as much as we do. As always, please send us your ideas and feedback so that we can continue to improve the TravelMuse experience.
One last thing: With this release, we are also refocusing our content development around the planning process. What this means is that you’ll see fewer general articles and more bite-sized pearls of wisdom specifically designed to make your trip planning experience better. Leading our content development efforts is Jill K. Robinson, who assumes the role of Managing Editor. Over the coming months, you’ll see new content emerge on the site such as destination ratings, recommended trips and thousands of activity descriptions in hundreds of destinations.
Kevin and the TravelMuse Team
Ever been to Las Vegas? Step into the massive Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tenn., and you might find yourself asking, “Which way to the casino?” With 2,881 guest rooms, this hotel is grand— you could indeed get lost in there, just like the huge hotels in Vegas.
Don’t spend too much time looking for that casino, however. The hotel is the largest non-gaming facility in the continental United States, and wonderfully family friendly.
The last time my family visited Nashville to visit relatives, we had merely poked our heads into the Gaylord Opryland Hotel. This time, though, we decided to get a room, er, suite. We had a great corner room that opened up to a living room and kitchenette, with a sleeper sofa and extra cot for my two boys. What can I say? We like our sleep and my kids snore.
Pool Perks for Everyone
When we travel as a family we like to spend ample time at the pool. Gaylord Opryland has three pools, which were a huge hit with the kids.
The centrally located Magnolia outdoor pool area is surrounded by a gorgeous fountain and small waterfall with a brook winding toward the pool and a wading pool. There’s a bar and outdoor eating area located poolside, ensuring that the little ones and grown ups always have something to munch on.
The Relache indoor pool is adjacent to the full-service Relache Spa. It’s a beautiful pool that has a designated lap lane—which help to keep frolicking kids well separated from adults working out. On the deck you’ll find plush, padded chaise lounges throughout—perfect for cat naps. A large, heated whirlpool and outdoor sunning area are just outside the pool area.
Enjoying the Relache Indoor Pool – Creative Commons – Kevin Fliess 2009
Hints of Disneyland
With the hotel’s four-story waterfall, a boat ride through the property’s interior moat, more than 10,000 tropical plants in the atrium and fountains, we thought it was the Disneyland of the Bible Belt. Well, almost. But, we never felt the need to leave (though I think my parents may have been miffed if we didn’t visit them).
A morning stroll by the Cascades waterfall - Creative Commons – Kevin Fliess 2009
Walking through the Cascades section of the hotel, I was transported to Bourbon Street, New Orleans. Some walkways and footbridges tricked me into thinking I was inside Vegas’ New York New York Hotel and Casino; there was a hint of Paris, with Opryland’s lofty glass ceiling adorned with lights mimicking the night sky. Great restaurants and shops on property made it worth every penny for the suite. Despite the lack of slot machines, we’d hit the jackpot!
Kevin & Sue Fliess