Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Winter in Yosemite

I decided to start off the New Year with a little romp in the snow. I was planning on doing a trip like this last year but due to scheduling conflicts I was never able to pull it off. Thankfully, an outing was organized by some friends over on Backpackinglight.com and I decided to join them.

If you have not heard of Backpackinglight, and you are interested in backpacking, you really should check it out here.

The snowshoeing portion of the trip was for three days but I wanted to add a couple of extra days to check out the Yosemite Valley and take some photos. I generally avoid the valley because of the traffic but it is dead quiet during the winter.

El Capitan overlooking the Merced

I spent two nights in Camp4 and there were only a couple other people staying there. It was chilly, lows around 20 F but during the day it warmed up to the mid 40's and was quite pleasant. I really enjoyed walking around with my camera, taking photos and enjoying the views.

Bridalveil Falls

Twilight Bridge

On Wednesday it was quite overcast and I found it difficult to get a shot without the sky being totally overexposed. About and inch of snow fell during the night and the next morning everything was covered with a beautiful layer of fresh snow. Thursday brought mixed sun and clouds and made for a spectacular day.

Reflecting on the Merced

I cant say enough how great it was not to be surrounded by crowds of people, I think this is the best time of year to visit the Valley.

Emerging Giant
Winter Trees

The ride up to Badger Pass was slippery but the tire chains did what they were supposed to do and I arrived without trouble. I met Rick in the parking lot, we chatted while getting our gear packed and I think we were both waiting to see if anyone else would show up. There were supposed to be 7 or 8 people going in that day. With a temperature of 18, it didn't take long to break out the puffy clothing. After taking our time getting ready we decided not to wait any longer and headed out to Dewey Point.


The trail was clearly marked and we made good time, I was on snowshoes while Rick was on his skis. He looked like he was having a great time, especially on the downhills, I am definitely going to have to try skis next time.

Overlooking Dewey Point
Looking East

We made it out to Dewey point in about 2 hours, the clouds started coming in and so visibility was spotty. We found a campsite that was protected from the prevailing wind and set up. About and hour before dark, we were wondering if anyone was going to show up but we were soon joined by David, Kat, Jacob, Marc and Rick. It was great to see everybody again but it was all business until shelters were up and food was being prepared. As soon as the sun went down temperatures dropped and we all wanted to have a warm bed to lie in and warm food in our belly's.

Marc organizing in the morning

Many of us had not camped in temperatures this low before and so I think we were all curious as to how well we would sleep. Personally, I was a little nervous that what I brought would not be warm enough. My bag is an old Taiga down bag that I bought in Vancouver about 14 years ago. I cannot remember what it was rated at, maybe 15-20 but down tends to lose loft over time and 14 years is a long time. But I was warm enough, slept well and woke refreshed even thought temperatures fell to around 0. I did have some really weird dreams though, seems like that happens when I sleep at altitude.

The next day was great, sunny and clear. We were joined by the rest of the group in the early afternoon. Jack, Jeremy, Brian, Chris, another Jack. Everybody got their shelters set up and it was great to see the variety of tents and tarps that people brought with them.

We chatted, cooked food, enjoyed good company and the beautiful outdoors. I dont know if it warmed up that night or I was just better acclimatized but it didnt feel as cold. Thermometers still read a low of around 0, and if you didnt keep your water bottle in the sleeping bag or buried deep in snow, it would freeze solid.


I didnt really want to leave on Sunday but my time was up and it was time to get back home. We all hiked out in good spirits, with new friends and old. I am already looking forward to the next trip.

Hardy Folks