Checkpoint Charlie

*Go to the Jan 30 Blog to read about the Half Dome permit process*

Half  Dome – Yosemite Musing

During the Berlin Wall days, the US had an entry gate into East Berlin called Checkpoint Charlie. All travelers had to go through there. Looks like the base of Sub Dome will be it for the Half Dome hike.

The start of the Sub Dome steps

Blog reader BellaBike made valid observations in her comment. Will ranger staff be there 24/7? I imagine it will be tight in the beginning until the process is wrung out. The first real wave of hikers tend to be at the cables about 8 or so. They are usually the Little Yosemite Valley backpackers. The mob from the valley follows close behind. I fully support the park in its attempt to bring some order to the chaos but am not aware of the actual procedures. Someone  will need to be at Sub Dome by 8 am for the permit requirement to have teeth. There is a step entrance to Sub Dome that is at the edge of the trees, so I guess that’s where the ranger will be. But it would not be too hard to by- pass this and enter the granite staircase a bit further west. Dunno if a flow channel for “permit checking” will be set up to funnel hikers into a queue to have their permit punched. Will there be a kiosk or umbrella stand? Surely the ranger will need to be relieved for potty breaks and lunch. Dunno when the shift will end. All heavy traffic times need to be manned (11 – 3). But abuse could result from the same people who sneak into the park before the park entry gate rangers are on duty and depart the park after they leave to avoid the entrance fees. Assuming a minute or two to look at the permit and validate it, the line may just move from the cables to the base of Sub Dome. And nothing is in place to meter the flow to keep all 400 permit holders from being at the cables within a hour or so of each other – leading to crowding. How about moonlight hikers who ascend at 4 am? Will they be checked somehow on the way down? I wish the park luck in planning this effort to ensure a smooth transition to the “new look” of the hike.
Unrelated thought worth quoting: “John Muir was also an inventor. 1860 his clocks on display at the Wisconsin state fair registered not only hours but minutes, seconds, and days of the month.”

*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –


5 Responses to “Checkpoint Charlie”

  1. DavidDavid Says:

    A lot ot people avoid going up Half Dome during peek summer days, for the same reason they avoid the Valley floor, or eating at the Grill, it’s just too crowded. So, there is already a ‘governor’ in place. A lot of foreign guests will be dissappointed. If the logistics for getting a permit are anything like getting a hiking permit, or a Camp 4 camping permit–there will be lines. And the buck fifty is a poke in the eye!

  2. BellaBike Says:

    I imagine many people just do Half Dome on a whim & a prayer. They’re already in Yosemite, and they see it listed as ‘extremely strenuous’ and decide to do it for bragging rights. Nowhere on the Yosemite website does it plainly warn people of the crowding on the cables. Perhaps what the NSP should do, instead of this inefficient, ineffective attempt at permits is to stand at the bottom at Happy Isles and hand out copies of Rick’s book! Given full disclosure of the hike, a lot of people would opt for another trail that day.

    Had I not found Rick’s book in an Amazon search of “hiking Yosemite”, I would have been heading into this hike with little to no information about the difficulty, the need for a water filter, the dangers of storms or rain at the dome…or many other details. This is nothing like the hiking we do on the other coast. There aren’t any lines on the trails of the Great Smokey Mountains, the Blue Ridge Mountains, or for that matter ANYWHERE else I’ve ever been – New Zealand included!!

    I have little faith that this permit system will do anything other than compound the issue, and confuse the masses. It’s government at its best.

  3. New York Says:

    The verification of permits is likely to be the same as used at Mt. Whitney. Spot checking, with turn back and an appearance ticket if you’re caught.

    • mrhalfdome Says:

      Excellent input. I think you may be right. There will be a lot of “let’s just do it” hikers. Some good fines that are publicized might put teeth into the permti system and keep honest people honest.

  4. Dean Says:

    I feel sorry for the Rangers. They are going to take a lot of flak I suspect…from folk who didn’t bother, folk who lost their pass or folk who left it in Curry…upset folk who just hiked 8 miles only to be turned back with the goal in sight.

    Is sub dome or the valley rim the best place to be arguing with an irate hiker and his/her buddies?

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