Vernal Fall / Sun Protection on the Half Dome hike

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing  

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Update: Witnesses said 10 people climbed over the railing yesterday at Vernal Fall apparently for photos. 3 were swept over. They are 27-year-old Ninos Yacoub of Turlock, 22-year-old Hormiz David of Modesto and 21-year-old Ramina Badal also of Modesto. No bodies have been recovered, but the Mist Trail is now reopened.

And now the blog:

     I’ve gotten questions about the sun factor on the hike. We haven’t talked much about this. When you get going at 5:30 am, the sun is not an issue. You’ll be chilled a bit but soon be huffing up to the Vernal Fall footbridge. You are in the shade until you come towards and through Little Yosemite Valley. The sun may be bright but it is still at a low angle. Then you are in trees for the long forest switchbacks as you cross over 7,000 feet.

     You’ll be putting your sunglasses on and off as the sun peeks between trees as you approach Sub Dome.You go to Checkpint Charlie and the Ranger  – have your permit ready and use the secret password to continue. Now you are above the tree line near 8,000 feet and very exposed. The hike up Sub Dome is all in the sun with white granite reflecting. Obviously, the cables and the top are fully exposed with hot sun on you at a high angle.

     What to do to keep from getting melanoma? Lather up well before your hike with a strong SPF loction. Carry it and reapply as you need to. Wear a hiking cap or a large brim hat (Tilley hat recommended) and a sun proof long-sleeved UV shirt (REI or Solumbra catalog on-line). I wear bicycle gloves all day to keep the sun off the backs of my hands and to prevent blisters from my hiking poles.

     A word about bugs on the hike. For me, mosquitos are generally not an issue at all. There is not much stagnant water for them to hide in. Sometimes when I am filter pumping water from the Merced at Little Yosemite Valley there may be hordes of them there. But only there. Personally, I don’t bother with repellent.

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Well buzz, buzz, buzz goes the bumble bee tweedle deedle dee goes the bird. But the sound of your little voice darling, is the sweetest sound I ever heard.” – The Hollywood Flames

*MrHalfDome ™ – Rick Deutsch –


9 Responses to “Vernal Fall / Sun Protection on the Half Dome hike”

  1. Shane Says:

    Just a suggestion regarding the sunscreen which we figured out when we did Half Dome July 9th. It is better to bring a spray rather than the lotion so you don’t have to rub it in as much. One of our groups hands got quite slippery, and even with gloves on going up the cables was not fun with slippery hands. The spray might be larger, but it is worth it if you have the room and don’t want slippery hands. Besides that, everything you said in your book and on your blog was spot on for us. Thanks for all the good work! Keep it up Mr. HalfDome!

    • mrhalfdome Says:

      Thanks Shane…..don’t you wear gloves up the cables??

      • Shane Says:

        We all did and I was fine with the spray. My friend had somewhat loose gardening gloves so with the lotion the gloves were slipping a bit. It wasn’t that big a deal, but just an added worry going up the cables. I didn’t think of the latex gloves, those would probably help. Or he could have just worn better gloves.

      • mrhalfdome Says:

        Try ATLAS gloves at ACE hardware. $4.69.Nitrile dipped garden gloves…they stick to the cable. Best I’ve found.

  2. Roberto Hernandez Says:

    Also, always bring sunglasses, preferably POLARIZED. I prefer lotion. You can put on a latex glove to apply if you do not want slippery fingers.

  3. Lori B Says:

    Yep, good advice. We were in a hurry up the trail and I forgot to apply sunscreen even though I had it in my pack. Got a pretty nasty blistered sunburn on the back of my neck. Gotta keep an eye out there in the years to come…
    (PS we used the 1.98 nitrile coated gloves from Home Depot. Light weight and cheap, worked like a charm. Glad you recommended the nitrile coated, that stuff is perfect.)

  4. Lori B Says:

    Also, its a shame about those poor hikers. We hiked on the 14th and I remember commenting to my husband as we passed Emerald Pool and SARCASTICALLY said something about how I didn’t understand why they even had signs warning about the water, and that we had swifter water in our bathtub! Needless to say at the time I was joking, I wasn’t going near that water for nuttin! I hate they ignorned the signs, such a needless tragedy. My prayers are certainly with their family and friends. I hope everyone learns from the many accidental deaths at the park that Yosemite isn’t Disneyland. You can’t toy with nature.

    • mrhalfdome Says:

      Later in the year the Emerald pool is very calm….but the edges are slippery and hard to get out and the water is 43 degrees. And duh, the falls are just around the corner. MANY get in trouble there. DO NOT GO IN. There is a nice pool in Curry Village!! Your bathub must have the jacuzzi jets on!

  5. Lori B Says:

    Haha yeah that was a big ole sarcastic joke on my part. I don’t care how calm the water is ABOVE a waterfall…theres still a waterfall below it!!!!!! haha I’ll stick with my waterfall-less bathtub thanks 😀

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