Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, an iconic visual representing the American West, is famous for many reasons.
Many of us grew up seeing Half Dome memorialized in the black-and-white photographs of Ansel Adams.
However, for nature lovers and backpackers, Half Dome represents one of the most arduous trails in North America, especially the final 400 feet of cable-assisted climbing to the top.
Unfortunately, the number of hikers wanting to scale Half Dome has superseded what the National Park Service deems environmentally sustainable and safe for the public.
According to its website (www.nps.gov), in 2008, nearly 1,200 people a day attempted the summit using the Dome’s cables. Given a rising number of recent deaths and an issue with “crowding” along the cables, Yosemite established an interim permit process in 2010, requiring hiking permits for Friday, Saturday and Sunday ascents.
This year, permits are required every day for the Half Dome Trail beyond the subdome, with only 400 hikers permitted each day. The permits are for the entire season when the cables are up, which traditionally runs from Memorial Day to around Columbus Day (May 25 to Oct. 8).
In another change this year, permits were allocated via a lottery system. The National Park Service held a preseason application period from March 1 to 31. Permits for 300 people per day were allotted through that lottery, according to the NPS website.
You can still apply for a permit two days before a trip to Yosemite: “In addition, NPS will hold a daily lottery throughout the Half Dome hiking season, which allows for more spontaneous trip planning.
“This lottery will have an application period two days in advance of the hiking date with lottery results announced late that night,” according to the website.
&Copy; 2012 VirtualTourist.com distributed by Tribune Media Services, Inc.