Today we feature a guest blog from Maureen L. of Oakland. Note: Weather is finally changing with precip coming. Hike safe.
Last Thursday morning, I hiked to Sentinel Dome and saw one other party. There was some packed-down snow and ice at the start of the Sentinel Dome trail, but the trail was mostly clear, and walking up to the top of Sentinel Dome was the same as in the summer. By early afternoon, there were people at Glacier Point, but nothing compared to the summer!
I had a wonderful hike in the Mariposa Grove on Tuesday. I ate lunch by myself on the porch of the Mariposa Grove Museum. No tram tour noise. Not many human voices. Instead, chickaree scolding, birds calling, pileated woodpecker drumming. Near the parking lot at the end of my hike, I heard several owl hoots close by, though didn’t see it. Many, many more cars/people by mid-afternoon, but parking lot nowhere near full.
The park is set for the winter, but all roads are open. The sky is incredibly blue, in contrast to the haze in the Central Valley and the murk we have in the Bay Area.
Cold in the morning; frost on the car. I started out my hikes with multiple layers and wearing hat and gloves, by late morning, I was down to long underwear top and shell parka for top layers; bare-headed and bare-handed. The Valley is the coldest; it gets very little sun during the day.
On the Glacier Point Road, the sign says “some trails closed.” The summer trailhead signs – McGurk Meadow (which continues on to hook up with the Pohono Trail to Dewey Point), Ostrander Lake, Mono Meadow – are down. The winter snowshoe/cross-country skis signs are up along the roadside. The Glacier Point Trailhead for the Panorama and Pohono Trails has a warning sign saying the trails are snow-covered and icy, which certainly wasn’t true of the Pohono Trail.
Where to stay? In past years, there have been winter weekday deals at Yosemite Lodge at the Falls. Curry Village heated tent cabins for maximum of $59; Friday and Saturday nights only. (Ask for the All U Can Heat Package.) Camping at Upper Pines and Camp 4 in Yosemite Valley, Hodgdon Meadow or Wawona: no reservations until at least March 15. Outside of the park, folks coming from the south seem to stay in Oakhurst (the Wawona Hotel is closed.) I stayed at my favorite place west of the park on 140, the Yosemite Bug. On 120, Groveland, some of the places east of Groveland are open, or for a splurge (and if you can get a reservation) the Evergreen Lodge.
What a topsy-turvy pattern. May 31, 2011, I went on a hike to Sentinel Dome with Ranger Dick Ewart – on snowshoes. (The NPS provided snowshoes for those who didn’t bring their own snowshoes or cross-country skis.) January 12, 2012, I hiked to Sentinel Dome.
Is this global warming? More likely, it’s the polar jet stream. Now, it’s sitting way to the north and sending the storms north of us. California has 7% of average snow to date. The earth and its creatures need the snow; California’s people, fish, and agriculture need the water. I notice that the Park thinks the Half Dome cables will be up for Memorial Day weekend, but I wouldn’t count on it when you put in your lottery applications this March!
Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Wishing and hoping and thinking and praying, planning and dreaming.” – Dusty Springfield
*MrHalfDome™ – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com