Half Dome conclusion...

When I last left ya'll, we were having lunch at the top of Nevada falls.  We ate some super yummy sandwiches and then refilled our water packs.  Josh has a really neat tool for purifying stream water.  It looks like this:

You put one end in the stream and pump the water into your bottle/backpack or whatever it is you brought.

After that, we were off!  At this point, my mom and I had to make a decision.  This was the point that we had decided that if we were too tired to make the entire journey, we would turn back here.  We were both feeling pretty good though, so we decided to press onward and upward.  
The J man was able to get a nap in at this point.  The trail is a bit less difficult for a while, so he was able to doze while my walking was a bit smoother.  This part of the trail has less tree coverage, so we shaded him with the hat.  
It's so crazy to think that this is only a little bit upstream from the crazy rushing falls.  The river quickly goes from nice and tranquil like this... to rushing like this
We didn't get as many photos from this part of the hike because we were trying to get a move on while the trail was easier.  We all got pretty excited once we turned a corner and were faced with the back side of Half Dome!
You can see what hikers call "The Saddle" really well from this shot.  It's the dip in the rock just at the base of the dome.  That's where the steps end and the cables start.  
The end is in sight!  (But still far.....)
Again, we stopped taking pictures for a while....we were concerned that we would be coming down in the dark if we didn't get a move on!  My parents turned back about 2 miles shy of the end.... they were feeling (understandably) weary and wanted to be sure to get back before nightfall.  So... down they went.  Half Dome requires that you have a permit in order to complete the hike onto the dome itself.  We had 4 permits.  I had intended to wait at the bottom of the dome while my hubby, bro, mom and dad went all the way to the top.  NOW... all of the sudden, I had the option to go all the way.  I decided that I would continue forward until I felt it was no longer safe to do so with the J man.  Onto the sub dome we went!  When we got to this part, all of the sudden we had GREAT views all around us of the mountains (still with snow on them).
After this point, you reach the ranger checking permits.  I still didn't feel unsafe, so we handed her the permit and moved on.  Next up are the granite stairs taking you up and onto the dome itself.  If you remember from further up, the stairs take you up as high as the saddle.  After that, the cables are your path to the top.  Onto the steps we went.  Just before reaching the base of the cables, the steps kinda fade into nothing-ness... and you have to scale the rock on your own to get to the saddle.  This marked the point where I decided it was no longer safe to continue with J.  Had it been just the adults, I would have gone on, but I didn't want to take ANY chances with the munchkin.
This is not my photo.. but it shows what the steps look like

  Soo... he and I sat down on a flat portion, we wedged ourselves into the rock and he nursed to sleep.  I had a book with me (for such a time as this) and I pulled it out and enjoyed a bit of relaxing time.  It was kinda nerve-wracking sitting so high up... I started to freak out a bit at one point.... being alone didn't help.  It was starting to get cool too.  I started praying that the boys would get back soon..... my mind started wandering to things like... what if they fell off..... what if my asthma flares up while I'm here so helpless..... what if it gets really cold..... 
I was praying for the Lord's continued protection when a hiker on his way up said,
" Hey!  I saw your parents on the way down... they told me if I saw a girl with a baby to tell you hi from them."  It was nice to have someone to talk to for a few min.  I told him my hubby and bro would be on the top and asked him to tell them not to dilly dally up there cuz I was gettin' cold down here.  He said he would and then gave me his extra fleece sweater to use in the meantime.  You can see it on my legs in this shot
Thank you Lord for providing for me.  

As you have probably guessed, the boys made it safely back to where I was sitting.  Here are some shots they got from the top.

The downward trek was grueling, and happened during dusk and after dark.  Because of that, we don't have many photos from that portion.  We arrived back at the van around 11.  Funny side story.... Josh started driving.  About 5 min in, he said he was too tired to continue.  Then my bro took over, saying that he drives late at night all the time.  He didn't even last as long as Josh.  I was driving within ten min of leaving.  Funny.  I had supernatural alertness though and we arrived safely in our motel a bit after midnight.  Shivering and exhausted, we fell into bed, dirty and sweaty and all.  It was a really great day, I made it (pretty much) all the way, C had spent a really fun day with her G-ma and the rest of the non-half dome hikers, we weren't mauled by mountain lions while we descended the mountain in the dark (something Garrett was really concerned about) and Josh was able to fulfill his dream of hiking half dome again.  Good day... beautiful place... with my family.  Loved it.

For more information on Half Dome, click here.

Until next time~

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