Welcome! Log In Create A New Profile Recent Posts
Pothole Dome (Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park)

The Moon is Waning Crescent (9% of Full)


Re: Whither Winter

All posts are those of the individual authors and the owner of this site does not endorse them. Content should be considered opinion and not fact until verified independently.

Whither Winter
March 16, 2015 09:01PM
Sometime this weekend Boston beat an official winter snow record... Unfortunately, so did the Sierra, with snowpack significantly below the '77-78 dry year record. Last weekend's summer-like temperatures accelerated the snowmelt, and brought out the hikers and crowds that usually wouldn't be in the park for months.

For those keeping track, the Half Dome cables were still down--for how long no one knows.

The mist trail wasn't very misty, at least early in the morning, but Vernal Fall did seem to have a bit more water than last weekend.

Nevada Fall too was more impressive.

The destruction wrought by the Meadow Fire stood in stark contrast to the green forests of western Little Yosemite Valley, which had been spared.

In many places only burnt spires stand, while in others nothing but sand and ash survived the inferno.

We arrived at the cascades at the head of Little Yosemite Valley around lunchtime--fortunately, the smooth granite and cool waters were unaffected.

The fire had been intense enough that even sparsely-placed trees had not been spared.

After enjoying lunch with the other two in our party, we continued to Bunnell Cascade at the head of Lost Valley, where we filled up for our climb to the top of a nameless dome.

Loaded with water, we started the steep climb up mostly open granite.

Soon we were above Lost valley and could see that only a few trees had survived.

As we reached the top the granite became a bit less steep.

There was no escape from the fire's effects, however.

We eventually reached the flat top of our dome, which by comparison had been mostly spared from the fire.

Across the canyon we could see Bunnell Point and, in the distance, Mt. Starr King.

Up canyon we could see Mt. Clark and the quickly melting snows from early winter.

Even the highest peaks had just a dusting of snow.

We eventually found a "Goldilocks" piece of granite (not too angled, not too sandy, just right...) and rested.

Unfortunately only the birds could enjoy the cupcakes we had brought to camp.

The afternoon and evening were very warm--especially for winter, but even by summer standards. After dinner we watched the sun set, while listening to a few frogs for whom a small tarn nearby was home.

As with the previous evening, the following morning was overcast, but almost any sunrise in the mountains is an experience.

After packing, we headed up a bit more, first passing our frogs' small pond, then continuing up to the "High Trail".

The fire had been particularly intense as we neared the lateral moraines that the trail follows.

While the JMT and High Trail in this section will be hot and exposed in summer, the views will hopefully make up for the lack of shade.

Those (of whom it is reported there will be many) who are "doing" the JMT this year should note that there really won't be any great camping between a bit past the Half Dome trail junction and (probably) the upper reaches of Sunrise Mountain due to the fire.

On our way to Moraine Dome we crossed a small creek, a promise of future rebirth and renewal.

Even the summit Moraine Dome itself--much more open granite than trees--did not escape the Meadow Fire.

From the top of this dome, we could see Half Dome (hello!), El Capitan, and Glacier Point.

The top of the dome was breezy, so after a few quick pictures, we dropped down towards the Merced.

Even granite, once molten rock, was not immune to the fire's effects.

The curved crest of the dome's namesake moraine formed a temporarily brush-free descent route to Sunrise Creek.

Our party split at the Half Dome junction--JKW and I took the JMT, while the others went between Liberty Cap and Mt. Broderick. Well, we mostly took the JMT--I didn't feel like it would be a complete trip without some abandoned trail scouting.

A week ago Ice Cut was icy and (at least for uphill traffic) closed; this week only a few handfuls of ice remained, and the gates were open.

From Ice Cut we could see the rest of our party rounding Liberty Cap.

As we descended the trail we passed by many parties, whose short-sleeved shirts and shorts might almost make you think it was summer.

Next weekend, we'll hopefully find out what spring has in store for the Sierra.

More Pictures
Re: Whither Winter
March 17, 2015 04:09AM
Nice report, thanks for posting. I am impressed by the pic of the exfoliating granite from the fire. It mustive really been hot !
Re: Whither Winter
March 17, 2015 08:50AM
Awesome photos and report. Interesting to see that all four of you opt for foam pads. Are these just for lounging/extra insulation? Or are these truly the only pads you bring along?
Re: Whither Winter
March 17, 2015 09:58AM
Re: Whither Winter
March 17, 2015 10:03AM
Basilbop and I use 66" NeoAir XTherm inflatable pads on top of the foam at night. I also carry a Crazy Creek Hexalite chair because my back isn't happy without it for extended periods sitting on the ground (mealtimes). I wasn't carrying the Z-Rest (extra weight I thought I didn't need) but the Pink One convinced me it's handy for lounging. It gets used at rest stops, mealtimes and is extra insulation at night.

Chick-on has a shortie XTherm and also an Exped DownMat 7 short for real winter conditions. Didn't notice the Burro's inflatable mat.

Just noticed CascadeDesigns doesn't seem to have the shorter ones anymore? And now makes rectangular shaped versions, if u prefer that.

Long gone are the days when I'd even try "just" foam or even a thin self-inflatable.

Hope that helps..

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 03/24/2015 07:11AM by JustKeepWalking.
avatar Re: Whither Winter
March 17, 2015 10:16AM
Not to Chick-on Bomb ur TR....

butt(er) ...


Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Whither Winter
March 17, 2015 10:20AM
Me dooz dis almost xact same trip almost xactly 1 year ago to the date..

What a difference a year makes...

The contrasts were eerily beautiful...

And having the moraine wide and and wide open views were quite nice actually...

Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Whither Winter
March 17, 2015 10:24AM
I didn't see Z Old Stick N Fedders doing any Photosynths...

Lost Valley from 2014 - Pre Meadow Fire:

A couple from this trip:
(look for z turkey below with an umbrella... hehehe)


Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Whither Winter
March 17, 2015 10:26AM

( *sigh* wishfull thoughs of past and future trips, looking forward to this years excursions )

sad the pictures of fire zones, wondering how many places I've camped are no more sad smiley
avatar Re: Whither Winter
March 17, 2015 12:36PM
I can't believe you guys are carrying knitted cupcakes now. Sweet report. (pun intended).
Re: Whither Winter
March 18, 2015 11:59AM
Great TR and awesome pics, thanks for sharing. Shot of Ice Cut definitely helps to get a feel of the full impact...seems more like July :-|
Re: Whither Winter
March 19, 2015 10:49AM
I can't believe you guys are carrying knitted cupcakes now. Sweet report. (pun intended).

Honestly, I can't believe it either!! A box arrived at home... We opened it... What the heck?!?! Oh yah, we've got to take them at least once!!!!!
avatar Re: Whither Winter
March 21, 2015 09:35AM
I can't believe you guys are carrying knitted cupcakes now. Sweet report. (pun intended).

They need the extra weight to slow them down. Otherwise they generate too much heat and might start fires.
Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.

Click here to login