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Yosemite National Park, Half-Dome

Sunday, July 30, 2023 - Sunday, August 6, 2023 -- $1675 ★★★★


Yosemite National Park is a beautiful Sierra wonderland featuring towering mountains, thundering waterfalls and rugged pulchritude. The incredible views in this wilderness are virtually inescapable, it's actually hard to avoid them. On our trip, we will be hiking to two of the most iconic, universally recognized landmarks, Half Dome and Clouds Rest. At the end of the trip, we'll cap it off with a walk through the Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias -- leviathan trees which can grow to be over 300' tall.

Our journey actually begins with a day-hike through the Giant Sequoias. Then, continue on Tioga Road to Tuolumne Meadows and start hiking. On our way to Half-Dome, we'll stay at Cathedral Lakes, Lower Sunrise Lake, up and over Clouds Rest before going to Half-Dome and returning via a different route.. Along the way, you may see black bears, big horn sheep, yellow bellied marmots, mule deer, pika, short tailed-weasels and possibly even a mountain lion.

Here's our proposed route. Come join us for a true life-list adventure.


Weather is always an important concern when hiking. Expect daytime hiking temperatures well into the 70s and nighttime temperatures in the 40s & 50s. However, be prepared for the possibility of day temperatures in the 80s and as low as 30 plus violent afternoon thunderstorms. Here is the anticipated weather.

Probable Trip Leaders

Guide(s) TBD


The trails through Yosemite National Park are very well groomed with good footing. However, elevation gain and loss can be dramatic. Furthermore, some days have relatively high elevation changes making this trip difficult at times. And Half-Dome is not easy. Attainable yes, but challenging. However the views are engaging and rewarding with incredible, continually changing scenery few ever get to see.


$1675 per person double occupancy. Here, double occupancy means that you will share a room with another participant during the 1 hotel night. You will also be responsible for transportation to and from Fresno, CA (FAT), personal equipment, restaurant meals eaten off the trail and any gratuities for guides.

Covered expenses include 1 hotel night, 1 night in a frontcountry campground, 6 days of trail meals, ground transportation, National Park permits and 2 awesome guides.

Tipping: In order to keep our prices competitive with (and hopefully favorable to) other outfitters, we shamefully can’t pay our guides as much as we think they deserve. Like most other guiding services, we rely on the generosity of our participants to make up this shortfall by tipping the guides. While tips are not required or expected, if your guides have served you well, please consider a gratuity so they can continue living their extravagant lifestyles of eating powdered meals, sleeping in the dirt and pooping in smelly outhouses and small holes they've dug.


Half-Dome permits are very difficult to obtain. In order to do so, we must enter a lottery 6 months in advance of our trip. Our chances of obtaining the permit are better when we have a smaller group size, schedule flexibility and a lot of luck. Getting permitted for certain trailheads in the Yosemite backcountry without a trip to Half-Dome can be difficult and competitive as there are trailhead quotas. Therefore this is only a proposed itinerary as we may be awarded a permit for a different route. Depending what permit we are ultimately awarded (if any), we may do this itinerary in reverse or possibly even visit another section of the park.

Yosemite has been in a several year drought so water may be somewhat scarce along the route. This might change in 2023, but be prepared to carry extra water on some days.

The frequency of wildfire in Yosemite and its environs has markedly increased with climate change, so that there is typically a fire burning either in the park or within range to send smoke into the park. Despite the enormous Oak Fire and Washburn fires that were burning during the 2022 Half Dome trip, the smoke was barely noticeable in the backcountry, but of course that may not be the case this year.

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Sunday, July 30, 2023

Fly or drive into Fresno, CA (FAT). Some time between 9AM - 1PM is the ideal time to arrive, but if you have been on our trips and have had your virtual equipment shakedown, you can arrive a few hours later.

Note: Flights to Fresno can be expensive, so book early. It's possible that someone else will drive in from San Francisco or Oakland (3+ hours) so we might be able to arrange a carpool if you decide to do this.

Take the free airport shuttle to our local hotel TBD

Mini-equipment shakedown. We reiterate the virtual shakedown you did pre-trip.

Make Your Own Trail Mix Bar from our copious list of ingredients

"Before" body composition measurements taken

If you have forgotten or overlooked gear, we may take a trip to REI, 7810 N Blackstone Ave, Fresno, CA 93720, (559) 261-4168

All the items that you won't bring on the trail will be set aside and placed in storage

If you drove, vehicles may be left at Hotel. However, the hotel may charge you a fee and assumes no responsibility for your car's security and will have you sign a document saying so.

Around 4PM shuttle towards Yosemite. Along the way, we will go out for a group welcome dinner (not included in trip cost). Alternately, we may prepare dinner in camp (included in trip cost)

Shuttle to Yosemite Valley and stay in Yosemite Valley Backpackers Campground. We may have to pick up the wilderness permit first if the office is still open, otherwise we will do it in the morning.

Be prepared to set up camp in the dark if we leave Fresno late.

Monday, July 31, 2023

Second set of "before" body composition measurements taken

Pick up backcountry permit and bear canisters if we have not already done so

Shuttle about an hour to the Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias, elevation 6660'

Day-Hike 2.0 round trip miles to the Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias, elevation 6600'

Shuttle about an hour on Tioga Road to the Tuolumne Meadows Area

Eat lunch and pack food into bear canisters, then re-pack packs with full canisters.

Guides will need to shuttle a vehicle to the ending portion of the trip, Sunrise Lakes Trailhead about 15 miles away. During this 45 minute period, we anticipate participants will eat lunch, pack food into their bear canisters and re-pack their packs with full canisters.

Start hiking at Cathedral Lakes Trailhead, elevation 8500'

Hike 3.0 uphill miles to Cathedral Lakes Trail intersection, elevation 9200'

Camp at Upper Cathedral Lake, elevation 4300'

Miles today: 5.0 miles. Total to Date: 5.0 miles

Possible Bailout: Tioga Rd

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Hike 4.5 miles on the John Muir Trail to Sunrise Camp, elevation 9400'

Turn right and hike 2.0 miles past two of the Sunrise Lakes to Lower Sunrise Lake, elevation 9400'

Camp at Sunrise Lake, elevation 9400. There is excellent swimming opportunities here.

Miles today: 6.5. Total miles: 11.5

Possible bailout: Tioga road

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Hike about 0.5 miles to the Sunrise Lakes Trail, elevation 9350'

Turn left and hike 4.0 miles to the summit of Clouds Rest, elevation 9926'

Clouds Rest is one of the park's iconic destinations, featuring unobstructed sweeping views of Yosemite including Half-Dome. We plan to eat lunch atop Clouds Rest.

Hike 3.2 mostly downhill miles (tough on the knees) to where Sunrise Creek hits the John Muir Trail, elevation 7230'

Camp at unnamed campsite near this intersection, elevation 7230'

We will camp here 2 nights

Miles today: 7.1. Total miles: 18.6

Possible bailout: Happy Isles

Thursday, August 3, 2023

Day-hiking only today. Keep tents pitched at Sunrise Creek.

Day-hike about 5.1 round-trip miles to the summit of Half Dome, elevation 8836'

Take lots of photos of this iconic view and drink in the grandeur.

Camp at Sunrise Creek, elevation 7230'

Miles today: 5.1. Total miles: 23.7

Possible bailout: Happy Isles

Friday, August 4, 2023

Hike 4.5 uphill miles on the John Muir Trail to a trail intersection, elevation 9100'.

Turn right and hike 2.4 miles to lower Sunrise Lake

Camp at Lower Sunrise Lake, elevation 9300'

Miles today: 6.9. Total miles: 30.6

Possible bailout: Tioga Rd.

Saturday, August 5, 2023

Hike 3.0 miles back to Tioga Road, elevation 8150'

End of hiking

Miles today: 3.0. Total miles: 33.6

Possible bailout: Tioga Road

Shuttle back to Fresno. Check back into local hotel TBD

Your stuff will be kept here and will be retrieved after we arrive and check in

"After" body composition measurements taken

Go out to celebratory dinner (not included in trip cost) and awards Ceremony

This is the official end of the trip. You are welcome to spend the night at the hotel, however if you drove and would like to get on the road or if you flew and would like to schedule a late flight (or a red-eye if this is a West Coast trip) you can definitely do so.

Sunday, August 6, 2023

Take free airport shuttle or we will pay for a shared cab/Uber

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