I went backpacking solo for the first time this weekend. It probably would’ve been better to wait and organize a trip that people could join me on, but at the last second I decided to go alone. The window of opportunity for a snow trip in Yosemite was closing and I would be out in Modesto for a 5k on Sunday. I figured since I’d be driving all the way out to Modesto anyways, backpacking at Yosemite wouldn’t be too much of a detour. (It turns out Yosemite and Modesto aren’t that close…) And I guess I’ve just been restless lately, my last backpacking trip was way back in October. So on Friday morning I drove to Badger Pass in Yosemite to spend the night at Dewey Point.
The hike begins on Glacier Point road. In the winter the road is closed to cars, and it’s used as a cross country ski and snowshoeing route. This year I guess the snow hadn’t been all that deep, so the snow had already melted down to the pavement in some places.
The snowshoes didn’t actually get strapped to my feet until I veered off of Glacier Point road and onto the Dewey Point Meadow Trail. Here the snow was a lot deeper and softer, and it would’ve been difficult to go very far without the snowshoes.
The Garmin trail GPS that I’ve been using has kinda crapped out on me, so on the recommendation of one of my friends I’ve been using an Android app called Backcountry Navigator. It seems to work well enough. One random side benefit of using an Android app is that it lets you take screenshots. From this screenshot you can see that Dewey Point is surrounded on three sides by cliffs.
Looking out over the edge at Dewey Point. The view from Dewey Point is incredible. It is directly across the Yosemite Valley from El Capitan, so there’s a nice view of El Cap along with Ribbon Falls, which you can see in the background of this picture.
Pictures don’t really do this area justice, so I took a short video from Dewey Point. It still doesn’t quite do the area justice, but it does sort of show off the view from the point. Several of the rangers that I had talked to had said that the view from Dewey Point was their favorite in Yosemite. I’m not sure if it’s my favorite– of the ones I’ve been to in the park Clark Point would probably be my choice because of the epic waterfall view.
My campsite was set a little ways from the edge at Dewey Point, but you can still see it clearly here.
During my hike towards Dewey Point I had only seen three people. The last person I saw was in a hurry to hike out because they heard a loud groaning noise which they had thought was a bear. So I was a bit wary of spending the night alone out there. To make matters worse, I had not brought my bear canister or bear spray. When I was filling out my backcountry permit the rangers said that I’d be fine without the canister as long as I hung my food from a tree. When I got to camp I realized that I didn’t have very much rope with me. I ended up tying my rope to my tripod to get it on a high enough branch.
The weather forecast said it would be well below freezing at night. I doubled up on everything, two pads and two sleeping bags, along with a lot of clothes and heat packs to try and make it through the cold night.
I had brought my big tripod because I wanted to do some star photography. I was hoping to get a picture of my tent at Dewey Point underneath the Milky Way. But it ended up that the moon was quite bright and big in the sky, so it washed out all the stars. So with nothing better to do, I pretty much fell asleep right after sunset. A couple of hours into the night I was awoken when I heard something walk toward my tent. I was afraid it was that bear that the day hiker had heard. I opened my tent and shined my headlamp in the direction of the noise, and was relieved to see a couple of pair of headlamps shine back in my direction. It was a pair of backpackers, who ended up setting up camp pretty close to me, which put my mind at ease about the bear.
The cold was brutal at night. I can’t remember the last time it was so cold that I had to wear this ninja balaclava to sleep. Even with two sleeping bags and a down jacket I was cold. It was so cold that the condensation inside my tent had frozen.
As I was hiking out large groups of backpackers were starting their hike in. It makes sense that there were large crowds, since it’s the second to last weekend that Badger Pass would be open, so the window of opportunity for this hike is closing. Part of the reason for me coming out here was to scout out a location for a future snow camping trip, but it looks like it will have to wait until next year.