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Sunday, September 30, 2018

Hacking and Hiking (Bay Area Summer 2018)

non-technical: suitable for any reader

Hello world! I kind of vanished since my last blog post in June; but that's mainly because I've been so busy with work and adjusting to life in California.

This summer has been an incredible experience, I lived with a group of 8-9 individuals in the SoMa HackHouse and we became a pretty core social group.

It made the summer fly by unfortunately, and the sad part is that since I'm doing an 8 month internship, this group of friends departed. I'm looking forward to seeing them again soon though, given full time offers are being provided to them (hopefully all!). We may all get a place together.

August rolled around and I moved into another hackhouse nearby (literally next door, they have these places everywhere in SF). I'm now living in a place that accommodates 16 nerds, and quickly made another group of friends.

Friends from Home

While I'm in SF, I've been trying to meet one new person each week. The objective is just to hear other perspectives from people I wouldn't likely speak with. A couple of weeks ago I talked with a homeless gent on the street, and last week I met with a startup founder. I'm meeting a lot of people out here, but I've not forgotten about my roots. My CSSA friends flew out in mid August and together we hiked Yosemite!

Here is my attempt at summarizing the event via some of the photos we took. This is a rough overview of what such a trip may look like, for anyone else interested in doing this hike.

The Permit Lottery (3-4 months earlier)

We applied for the permit lottery. This lottery is strictly required to hike the summit of Half Dome as the park limits a maximum of 225 day hikers and 75 backpackers each day. A lottery entry costs , and allows you to pick up to 7 preferred dates (we applied back in spring, and were looking for openings in late August). If you win the lottery and get a spot, you can fit up to 6 people on a single permit, each of them having to pay 10 bucks for entry. You can find the details here. Since 7 of us were trying to go, we had to win two permits that fell on the same day. Thankfully we applied earlier enough to make it happen!

The month before

We created a checklist of all the items required and made sure to double check with each other that everyone had the required items.

In terms of essential items, you should make certain you have the following:
WATER: You need at LEAST 6 litres on you for a day hike, whether this is Clouds Rest or Half Dome. Don't underestimate how much water you'll need.
Dried foods/fruit: Bring lots of foods that quickly deliver energy. I liked having dried cantaloupe, mango, and Cliff Bars.
Sun Screen: Bring enough to apply multiple times throughout the hike, you should be reapplying sunscreen every couple of hours in full.
Sleeping pad: This isn't a sleeping bag, it is a mini inflatable raft that you put underneath your sleeping bag that ensures you aren't sleeping directly on the ground. It gets cold at night, so even with a sleeping bag alone, you could freeze.

The Yosemite Hike Begins! First Day

We all met up in SF and picked each other up in a big Van (road trip style!) and head off to stay at North Pines campground in Yosemite Vally. We arrived by nightfall, set up our tents, and went to bed.
Us making breakfast at around 5:45am Saturday morning
It was a fascinating experience because the whole drive into the valley we couldn't see the mountains or our elevation, only a dim lit road.

yosemite camp ground
The sun came up and we could finally see the camp site!

The morning reveals the mountains right next to our campsite. 

We began our Clouds Rest hike on Saturday Morning, beginning our ascension at around 8am.

The beginning of the hike is primarily forestry for the first couple of miles. 

Always apply sunscreen! Every couple of hours.
As we gained elevation the forest began to dissipate
bye trees
We reached the beginning of the Cloud's Rest summit. You can see the terrain narrowing, but you can't yet see the elevation. 

Walking forward for a minute begins to reveal the elevation. Right now the hikeable surface is still >30 ft in width; but if you're not one for heights you'll begin to feel your stomach sink.
Take a few more steps, and

BOOM. 9900ft elevation with drop off on both sides, and about 10ft width of hikeable surface. This is called very narrow ridge, can you guess why?

Another picture just to really paint the image of how narrow this was. If you were to fall to your left or right you'd tumble down. 

The view from the peak

We reached the summit at around 12:30pm 

This is why I practice handstands. 

By ~1:45pm we began our descent and reached base by ~5:30pm. The total hike was around 9 hours.

Post-hike pic
We were able to come back and rest for a night; but Half Dome was up next

On Sunday, we relaxed around the North Pines campground.
Sean still climbing even though today is supposed to be a rest day.

Half Dome

Monday morning we began hiking Half Dome, we were on the trail by 4am!

Kind of felt like a scene in the blare witch project

The sun began to rise a couple of hours into the hike 
Half dome has three parts: Mist Trail (the route we chose), followed by sub dome and then finally half dome. This is a shot of mist trail.

Half Dome can be seen off into the distance! SOON

By ~9am we approached subdome. This is a portion preceding half dome, and the last region in which you can comfortably rest.

Sub Dome is surprisingly steep from a first-person perspective
After completing Sub Dome, we had a clear view of Half Dome (there is no Full Dome). Two metal cables run up the 400 ft wall.

It's hard to describe the feeling at this summit. Images don't truly put into perspective just how steep it was, and how exhausted we were by this point. 

We reached summit at around 11am!

We head back down the trail. I took an easier route with Kat and Julia instead of going back down Mist Trail because I had somehow consumed 7 liters of water throughout the day and we starting to feel dehydrated. 
Beautiful scenery on the way back down! I was also thrilled that there was a small pond I could swim in, which lessened the impact of the heat.
We returned back to the campsite just short of 6pm. Within 30 minutes Kat and Julia went from looking like they hiked for 12+ hours (which they did), to looking like they were just about to receive Oscars

I slept really well that night, and the next morning we departed the camp site at around 6am. I arrived back at work just shy of 11am and resumed my post at Cruise!
In retrospect I should have taken an extra day off; but the autonomous vehicle revolution can't wait!


As fall is now falling,  I'm going to focus my time on summarizing the things I've learned and some of the reflections I've taken on myself these past few months. Those posts will be coming up soon in a mini-series! There has been so much to think about while in the Bay Area that I felt it was suitable to let my thoughts percolate for multiple months before even trying to summarize what I've been experiencing.

Back soon with a new series! To all of my friends active in classes again, best of luck! I'll see you come Winter time.

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