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The following is a guest blog submitted by Sonke K. of Hamburg, Germany.
As the Half Dome hiking season is approaching, the anticipation is rising and so are the temperatures in the Yosemite Valley. However, there is still a lot of snow in the Sierra Nevada and Yosemite is facing the second largest snowpack in the last 30 years (178% water content of the snowpack as a percent of average). Partly thanks to a late March winter storm that also triggered the rare event of a full park closure.
During winter, two of Yosemite’s most popular roads remain closed: Tioga Road and Glacier Point Road. Both offer access to many wonderful hikes in case the cables are still down (or you couldn’t scoop up a Half Dome permit) in case you are looking for an alternative. Tioga Road plays a vital role if you want to get to the east side of the Sierra Nevada (e.g. to enjoy a Wild Buffalo Meatloaf sandwich at the Whoa Nellie Deli in Lee Vining or if you have plans to go from Yosemite to Death Valley via 395).
Before the roads can be opened some major plowing needs to done. Each year Yosemite National Park roads crews assess the Tioga and Glacier Point Roads for current conditions and avalanche danger. A Tioga and Glacier Point Road Plowing Update is issued on a regular basis usually starting mid-April. The first report is in and there’s still 10 ft of snow on both roads. Here’s where things stand:
Tioga Road – Work began this week at the closure east of Crane Flat intersection and consisted of snow cats and dozers moving lifts of snow to reduce snow levels for the rotary plows. Snow levels are still at record-high levels. Work will continue Monday through Saturday, weather and conditions permitting. Also see photo below.
Glacier Point Road – Deep snow, up to 10 feet, equipment breakdowns, and fresh snow fall marked the first week of spring snow removal on Glacier Point Road. With a slow start as a result of the late-March snow event, which required resources to reopen other park roads and facilities including Mariposa Grove, work clearing the road was delayed. The large rotary snowplows were all inoperable at times during the week, so progress was slow. The road is plowed to pavement up to Summit Meadow, one mile east of Badger Pass. Work will continue Monday through Thursday.
In other areas, Mariposa Grove road opened on Friday, April 14 after multiple heavy snow events occurred after the initial snow removal was performed (work had been completed for an April 1 opening but another major winter storm delayed opening). Crane Flat Lookout and Campground/Snow Play Area were completed and equipment moved to Tioga Road. Snow depths required a dozer to reduce the snow level in front of the rotary plow (this has not been the case for many seasons).
In 2005 the snowpack had 163% (Tioga Road opened Jun 24, Glacier Point opened May 25 that year). So if you are planning a hike from a trailhead off Tioga and/or Glacier Point Road or you have to cross the Tioga Road (check YNP website for alternative routes) please plan accordingly and keep an eye on the plowing updates. You can also check with Caltrans for latest Tioga Road conditions click <HERE>. Safe travel and happy hiking!
Unrelated thought worth quoting: “He who limps is still walking.” – Stanislaw J. Lec
*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com