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Half Dome Alternate

July 04, 1999

Regarding "Going Full Tilt at Half Dome" (June 20): If I believed for one minute the fearful, almost wimpy tale of author Dennis Pottenger's successful hike up Yosemite National Park's majestic Half Dome, I'd stay home.

But I know better. I've been there, done that several times. Sure, it's a strenuous hike, but I've seen dozens of little kids and old men up on top, none the worse for the endeavor and altitude (altitude sickness at 8,000 feet?).

There is a far more delightful way to hike Half Dome than the exhausting all-in-one-day, straight-up, 17-mile round trip. Drive to Glacier Point and park at the far end of the lot. Hike down the east side of the point on the Panorama-Ililouette trail, cross the river, go up gently for a short distance and then hike three to four miles on an easy, almost level trail to the top of Nevada Fall and the Little Yosemite Valley.

Camp out (wilderness permit needed beforehand), and the next morning early, before it gets hot and the valley mobs arrive, take the three-mile trail to Half Dome. Bring lunch, water, camera and a book, and stay several hours. Hike back to camp for another night or go back down the easy but steep trails (there are two, a horse trail and a rocky hiker-only one) to the valley. Take a bus or hitchhike back up to Glacier Point to return to your car. Piece of cake.

Then celebrate with dinner at the Ahwahnee, the ultimate Yosemite camp-out!

PATTI YODER GARRITY, Manhattan Beach

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