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Yosemite: Hikers with Half Dome permits shut down by Meadow fire

Yosemite: Hikers with Half Dome permits shut down by Meadow fire
Smoke from the Meadow fire rises above Little Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park on Sunday. (Yosemite National Park)

The popular trail and cables to Half Dome in Yosemite National Park remained off limits to hikers Monday, a day after the growing Meadow fire forced the helicopter evacuation of 85 hikers and climbers from the area, a park official said.

Yosemite remains open, but park staff were contacting hikers who had permits to use the Half Dome cables Monday to tell them the trail to the top of the 8,800-foot granite peak was closed. A decision on whether to open the trail and the cables on Tuesday hadn't been made as of Monday morning.

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The fire burning within Little Yosemite Valley on both sides of the Merced River grew from 700 acres to almost 2,600 acres in a day. No containment estimates were made as of midday Monday.

Each year thousands of hikers enter a preseason lottery operated by Recreation.gov for a shot at the 225 day permits and 75 backpacking permits to use the cables issued daily. The highly coveted permits are required to hike up a series of steep metal cables fitted with wooden slats to the top. There's also a daily lottery that distributes approximately 50 permits to last-minute permit seekers.

Half Dome cable permits cost $8 per person plus an application fee of $4.50 to $6.50 is required through Oct. 14, weather permitting. After that, cables are removed until the next season that starts in late May.

The Half Dome Trail isn't the only one affected. Yosemite remains open, but backcountry trails like those to Little Yosemite Valley and the Sunrise Trail to Clouds Rest also are shut.

Hikers with permits who were planning to hike Half Dome and other backcountry trails should check the park's website, Facebook page and Twitter for updates on the fire and park closures.

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