Our trip begins this morning in Fresno, California. Meet your guides and fellow backpackers for introductions before loading into our private van and setting out on the drive to Yosemite National Park. Arriving at the trailhead midmorning, our guides conduct an orientation and gear check and prepare a picnic lunch before we don our packs and strike out into the Yosemite backcountry. In late afternoon, we arrive at our wilderness campsite and enjoy our first tranquil night under the Sierra stars. Lunch and dinner included.
Backpacking: 5.5–7 miles, with up to 3,467’ of elevation gain/loss (see “daily mileage” note below); Van transfer: 2–3.5 hours
Note on daily mileage: We apply for permits for a variety of different routes to Half Dome, so specific driving times, daily backpacking mileage and elevation profiles vary dependent on which permit is obtained for each specific departure. Permits are confirmed approximately 4 months prior to departure date.
We spend two glorious days in this Sierra Nevada paradise, backpacking through vast wildflower meadows, past cascading waterfalls and over high alpine passes en route to our objective, the massive granite monolith of Half Dome. Although the hiking is sometimes challenging, our enthusiastic guides lead us down trail, keeping us energized and enlightening us on the geology and natural history of the surrounding landscape. Each night, we pitch our tents and settle into our cozy campsites for some well-earned relaxation time, relishing the Sierra sunsets and tasty guide-prepared meals that keep us fueled up for our daily adventures. All meals included both days.
Backpacking: 7–10 miles both days, with up to 3,268’ elevation gain/loss (daily mileage will vary depending on which permit is obtained for your specific departure)
The final push to the summit of Half Dome is always exhilarating and unforgettable. We leave our backpacks at camp today and set out down trail with just our daypacks. The route to the top of Half Dome includes a final ascent up a steep 400-foot section of granite that incorporates steel cables to grip for added balance. On this section, our guides stay close, cheering us on and assisting as necessary. Finally at the summit, our efforts during the past four days are rewarded with a great feeling of accomplishment and awe-inspiring panoramic views of Yosemite Valley and the magnificent High Sierra. Back at camp tonight, we celebrate our successful summit with a delicious dinner surrounded by our backpacking companions and newfound friends. All meals included.
Hiking: 6.8 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +2,695' / -2,695’
We pack up camp one last time this morning and begin our hike out of the Yosemite backcountry. We pass thundering Nevada Falls and, following the John Muir Trail, continue down towards trail’s end at Happy Isles. After lunch in Curry Village, we rendezvous with our van and drive back to Fresno where we say our final farewells. We anticipate getting back to our Fresno host hotel at approximately 5pm this afternoon. Breakfast and lunch included.
Backpacking: 5 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +1,110’ / -3,202’; Van transfer: 2.5 hours