Half Dome — Page 2

Curry Village Tents

Curry Village

My Half Dome adventure begins in Yosemite Valley's Curry Village, where I've booked a tent cabin to spend the night near the trailhead for an early start tomorrow.

'Camp Curry' was founded in 1899 by David and Jenny Curry, two schoolteachers from Indiana. They dreamed of visiting Yosemite, but found that they could not afford park lodging at $4 per night, so they established Camp Curry, offering affordable room and board.

Yosemite Valley - Bike Path Half Dome Curry Village - Tent Cabin Atop Glacier Point

According to the National Park Service, the camp was originally comprised of a dozen tents with a common dining center, but it quickly grew to hundreds of tents within a few years.

Today, Curry Village's tent cabins remain perhaps the best deal in the park—not impossible to reserve, as are campsites and motel rooms, and not terribly expensive either.

In addition to putting would-be hikers in excellent proximity to Half Dome's trailhead, Curry Village also offers an impressive array of services, including a dining hall, a well-stocked mountaineering shop, a swimming pool, and a grocery.

Of course, you also get to stay in the heart of Yosemite Valley, in the literal shadow of both Half Dome and Glacier Point.

I find a parking spot and then carry gear from car to tent. While I'm loading food into the bear box, one of my new neighbors wanders over to say hello. He is here with his son, enjoying a few peaceful days in the Valley. Though I don't know it now, I'll be seeing (and not seeing) them again soon.

I head to the dining hall for a big buffet dinner. Soon after that my climbing buddy Bill arrives. We're both eager to get on the trail to Half Dome tomorrow.

A quick confession: prior to visiting Yosemite for the first time, I must admit the place always sort of flew under my radar. As a regular visitor to the Eastern Sierra, I always envisioned Yosemite as just another part of the Sierra—beautiful, no doubt, but one beautiful place among many in California's Range of Light, and not one that I was in a particular hurry to visit.

In hindsight this attitude was about as foolish as regarding the Grand Canyon as just another hole in the ground. Yosemite above all is unique—and unique in many respects. It is first of all the absolute center of the human rock climbing universe, for reasons which become clear as soon as you enter the valley. It is also home to not one but several of the world's highest waterfalls.

There are the redwoods, the rivers, the meadows, the granite faces. Both lush and austere, Yosemite Valley is the Sierra's Shangri-La, a pocket of magic which must be seen in person to understand its wonders. And Half Dome is the centerpiece. Climb Half Dome, and you'll experience a hearty portion of Yosemite's feast. Is it any wonder the route is so popular?

next: The John Muir Trail

About SierraDescents

When there is snow, SierraDescents is Andy Lewicky's California backcountry skiing and mountaineering website. Without snow, sierradescents becomes an ill-tempered hiking and climbing blog.

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