yosemite in winter

I love Yosemite.

I’ve been to Yosemite many times, but I always find new things I love about it. Of course part of the reason is the many epic hikes in Yosemite, like Half Dome or Cloud’s Rest, but even shorter hikes out of the valley are nice there.

Even though I’ve been to Yosemite so many times, I’ve never had the chance to go in winter. But after having gone there this past weekend, visiting for the first time in Winter, you know what I found?

I love Yosemite even more in Winter…

Fullscreen capture 1162013 53334 PMPart of the reason why I ended up going was because the cabins at Curry Village were available for super cheap. In the past the unheated cabins I’ve stayed in have been around $130, but they had a sale for a heated cabin for $50. It’s probably because of the hantavirus outbreak last year, I guess people are wary to stay there because of it. In truth I was a bit wary too…

IMGP0381The drive into the park was quite nice. We stopped here at the Half Dome viewpoint and played in the snow for a bit.

IMGP0415When we got into the valley we found that many of the roads were completely covered in snow and ice, and most people were using chains. It’s times like this that I’m really glad to have a car with all wheel drive. The car handled pretty well despite the crappy road conditions.

IMGP0685Initially I had booked a tent cabin at Curry Village, but we got upgraded to a room at the Yosemite Lodge for the same price. From the lodge parking lot you could see both Half Dome and Yosemite Falls. Rooms at the lodge are kinda crappy, especially when you consider that they’re normally $220 per night, but the views alone almost make it worth it. For the $56 we got it for it’s a bargain.

IMGP0431After checking in, we went for a hike. Well okay, we took the shuttle bus to the trailhead and then hiked.

IMGP0442After failing to summit Mount Whitney, I learned my lesson about being prepared for ice and hard packed snow. So I bought these snow-trax at Costco. They made a world of difference.

IMGP0463These people did not have any traction when descending, so they held onto the rock and descended really slowly down the slippery trail. It’s basically what happened to us at Mount Whitney, except this trail was a bit steeper (although less icy.)

IMGP0547Even with the snow-trax parts of the trail were scary. Several of the switchbacks were pretty steep. This group was descending while we were ascending. Even though they had traction devices on their feet like us, they were still on their butts…

IMGP0532Parts of the trail were really narrow, with a steep drop to the side.

IMGP0561But the hike was totally worth it. We ended up near Clark Point, which has a nice view of Nevada Falls. We took a similar group shot there in spring, although we’re missing Sam this time around.

IMGP0637After the hike we found a picnic area to do hot pot. At first it seemed like the dumbest idea ever. It was about 20 degrees out, my hands and toes were numb, and my face was freezing. But after I got some of that warm spicy broth in me, things started to seem better.

IMGP0701In the morning we decided to cook again. (Food in Yosemite is kinda expensive, and I’m a cheapskate…)

IMGP0695It was a bit scary because there were some sort of animal tracks right next to our picnic table…

IMGP0715But we made it out in one piece. The trip was pretty short, but it was an awesome experience, hiking and cooking in Yosemite in Winter.

My future goal is to try and do a winter overnight trip somewhere in the Yosemite backcountry. Glacier Point in winter sounds nice, it’s about 20 miles round trip, which is kinda long for a snowshoeing backpack trip, but I think it would be worth it.

Things I’m thankful for:

  • Subaru all wheel drive
  • Snow-trax, yak trax, crampons and other traction devices
  • Friends who are willing to brave sub freezing temperatures to save a few bucks on breakfast and dinner…

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