Sierra Snowshoeing

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

     It was a superb day in the Sierra Nevada for snow shoeing. Our foursome hit the trails off Highway 108 next to Dodge Ridge – east of Sonora about an hour. A small parking area led to a formal trail. The ski patrol had a pop-up tent to provide maps and advice to both cross country skiers and people snow shoeing. The area had a single shooter port-o-potty. I got my MSR shoes from the rental program at SNAC – Sierra Nevada Adventure Company in town.  $15 was a real bargain. I haven’t talked myself into buying a pair yet since I don’t think I’d use them enough to justify the expenditure. They list for $140.

Fearless Foursome

     We hit the trail about 10 am. We were pretty much alone for most of the day. We passed another party snow shoeing and just a few cross country skiers. It had to be in the high 50’s that day. Easy to get sunburned. If you are not careful the rays can bounce off the snow and burn your nostrils and even the roof of your  mouth. 

Deep enough for ya??

Are we going the right way???

 

All downhill from here.

     Out trek was a 4 mile loop to see the Aspen Gulch. A large expanse of a bowl. The morning was mostly uphill so the return was a breeze. And yes, you do work up a nice sweat. For a real good workout stay off the packed trail and find you way through deep snow. I’m a big fan of cross training so this activity was a good stress for unused muscles. The 4 miles took us aobut 4 ½ hours. I have been thinking of going from Badger Pass resort to the Ostrander Hut. That’s about 9 miles of some ups and downs. I don’t know if I could make it there before dark. Has anyone done this trip? The Hut has 2 beds so you have to bring your sleeping bag, food and cooking gear. It has a fireplace but no lights. Supposed to be pretty full on weekends, but weekdays appear to have openings. There is a reservation system. Anyone interested??

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “IRS Circular 230 Disclosure: To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the Internal Revenue Service, we inform you that any tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) was not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding tax-related penalties or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any tax-related matters addressed in this communication.

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About Mr Half Dome - Rick Deutsch

Mr Half Dome. Has written the only half dome hiking guide, One Best Hike: Yosemite's Half Dome. Has hiked it 31 times to day. Lives in San Jose, CA Available for presentations. Carpe Diem Experience, LLC
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0 Responses to Sierra Snowshoeing

  1. Maureen Lahiff says:

    I can’t tell from the photo, but I think you should consider using tails on your MSR snowshoes if the model you were using comes with them, especially if you’re going to be breaking trail. The extra flotation is a big help, as are the heel lifters if you have a lot of uphill to do.

    MSR used to have a handy table on their website with weight ranges for you and clothes and pack and what shoe the recommend, but somehow I can’t find it now that they’re part of cascade designs.

    My Denalis (purchased a few years ago at the end of a season, and have paid off their cost in rental fees) come with 4 inch and 8 inch tails. I use the 4 inch tails in powder, and even with daypack and stuff, I weigh no more than 150 pounds.

    My suggestion to check out your Yosemite snowshoe times and effort:

    If you haven’t done the wonderful trek to Dewey Point on snowshoes, enjoy it and see how you feel and what you’re time is. I think it’s actually a longer trek than advertised. The view of the valley from Dewey Point is fantastic.

    I usually go in to Dewey Point on the Old Glacier Point Road and then cross over the current road (with an outhouse stop near by) and then continue in via the Meadow Trail and come back on the Ridge Trail. (This is a different set of trails than the summer hiking one through McGurk Meadow.)

    You’ll notice that the ski level signs on part of the Dewey Point trails say “expert skiers only” but novice showshoers are perfectly able to negotiate the trail.

    Using Dewey Point with a day pack to check things out before trying Ostrander with lots more gear seems prudent to me!

    The winter trails are easier to find than the summer ones, IMO, both yellow blazes on trees and signs at junctions, and usually the tracks of those who’ve gone before.

    You can find the trail map for ski and snowshoe trails out of Badger Pass here (stick it on a single line) :

    http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyo.....eID=134994

    Of course, polite snowshoers stay out of both the set track on the Glacier Point Road and organized tracks in the back country.

    Some thoughts about Ostrander Lake trip:

    Some options for the first part of a trip to the Ostrander Lake Ski Hut do the first few miles along the Glacier Point Road, which is packed down by the ski groomers. (For more solitude, you can take the trail to the Bridal Veil Campground instead of the road instead.) There are several trails up to the Hut, with ratings for skiers. One of the advantages of snowshoeing is you can pretty much ignore the warnings that say novice skiers should not attempt the Ostrander Trip. I don’t mean to slight the energy demands, just to point out the difference in skill level needed.

    I’ve snowshoed to the Glacier Point “ski” hut, which is less of a climb than Ostrander but also 10.5 miles. My left knee doesn’t like to snowplow very much, which is why snowshoes rather than cross country skis. I was keeping up with the skiers headed for Ostrander on the uphill, as they had heavier packs–not having sleeping bag and food kept my pack lighter!

    I’ve hiked the trail to Ostrander Lake in the summer, and I think I could make it in a long day (but all daylight) to the hut on snowshoes.

    It’s hard to get an early start, as you have to check in with the ranger at Badger Pass and get the permit to leave your car overnight. (No reservation needed for wilderness permit, just show up to get it.)

    The hut has bunks for about 25 people total. The official site seems to imply you won’t need cookware:

    http://www.yosemiteconservancy.....eservation

    happy trails!

    • mrhalfdome says:

      You sound pretty hard core! Good advice. My rentals were MSR with attached tails. I stayed in the hardpacked tracks. Not bad. Was fun to get in deep stuff and slosh around.

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