glacier point snow backpacking
My first snow backpacking trip to Yosemite was to Dewey Point almost exactly six years ago. Ever since that first trip I’ve been wanting to do the much longer trek to Glacier Point. This week I was finally cross the trip off my bucket list.
The trip was sort of a last minute decision. The winter season at Glacier Point typically ends at the end of March, but during the last six years (many of which were drought years) the area hadn’t even opened due to lack of snow. So I didn’t know when I would have another opportunity to do this trip. The one cause for hesitation was the forecasted snow storm. In truth I wasn’t too worried about having to snow shoe throw snowfall or spend the night in a tent during a snow storm, but I was definitely a bit worried about having to drive the curvy mountainous roads into Yosemite in snowy conditions. When I checked the forecast, it looked like Friday night would be clear, so I decided to book a room at the Yosemite View Lodge and drive into Yosemite Friday evening before the snow storm. Thankfully my friend Vishal decided to go at the last minute as well. I’ve done solo snow trips before, most notably that trip to Dewey six years ago, but it’s definitely better with a friend, even in a well traveled area like Yosemite.
The drive to the Yosemite View Lodge was uneventful. The lodge itself was surprisingly nice. It’s situated in a river canyon with spectacular granite walls that tower over the lodge, and the gurgling of the river drowns out all other sounds. It’s almost a mini Yosemite Valley of its own, even though it’s actually situated a bit far away from the crowds of tourists at the real Yosemite Valley. As far as I could tell the lodge were the closest accommodations to the Yosemite Ski area, which was the starting point for our hike.
The Yosemite Ski area was about a forty minute drive from the Yosemite View Lodge. As we started to gain elevation and get closer to the ski area a light drizzling rain started to turn into a heavy snow. We arrived a bit before the ranger station opened, so we decided to each grab a breakfast burrito at the ski lodge’s cafeteria. We had decided to pack light and not bring a stove, so the breakfast burrito would be our last warm meal for a couple days (though it would prove to have consequences later in the day).
The hike towards glacier point started off relatively easy despite a bit of snowy weather. There were a fair number of cross country skiers and snow shoe trekkers going in the same direction. It seemed that most of the cross country skiers were doing a day trip out to Glacier Point, whereas most of the other people in snow shoes were taking shorter trips out to either Dewey Point or one of the other vista points out before Glacier Point. Glacier point is kind of a long trek in snow shoes, but for the most part we actually didn’t even need the snowshoes since most of our path was machine grooved hard pack.
It was overcast and snowy for most of the morning, but by afternoon the skies started to clear up. As we got closer to Glacier Point we were treated with an amazing view of Half Dome peeking out through the clouds.
The breakfast burrito we ate in the morning turned out to be a rather bad choice. There were bathrooms along the way but most of them were closed. Luckily there was a bathroom near Glacier Point that was open. Unluckily one of us couldn’t hold out until we got there.
We arrived near Glacier Point by late afternoon. Thankfully there was enough sunlight out for us to setup a campsite. There actually wasn’t a lot to setup, Vishal and I both had tents that went up within minutes. We were planning to dig out a seating area, but we ended up being lazy and just sat down in the snow and drank some beer and wine. There wasn’t much else to do, thankfully we brought enough alcohol to make me sleepy.
The main reason why this trip was on my bucket list was to catch the sunrise over the Yosemite Valley. So we woke up early to catch the sunrise before packing out. This had been a bucket list trip for a long time and so I was glad to finally cross it off the list. It’s a bit of a trek to get out to Glacier Point in snowshoes, so I’m not sure if I’d want to do it again, though I might think about trying it in cross country skis someday.