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Re: Yosemite Winter Hikes

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Yosemite Winter Hikes
September 17, 2011 10:23AM
Hey everyone,

I'm planning a trip back to Yosemite, but unfortunately won't be able to make it until either late December or early January. I know if there is snow on the ground, a lot of the valley rim hikes are technically "closed," but are there lots of people who still take them? Is it feasible to get up Upper Yosemite to check out the snow cone at the bottom of the falls? Any favorite winter hikes to suggest?

Thanks for any info you pass along.
avatar Re: Yosemite Winter Hikes
September 17, 2011 10:53AM
Upper Yosemite Fall Trail is usually open even in winter. It does get a bit slippery when there's slush combined with sand. If there's no snow in the Valley, it's going to get to the point where you're at the snow level boundary. Snowshoes might come in handy at the top, although I just postholed through all the snow like most other hikers.



Re: Yosemite Winter Hikes
September 17, 2011 11:51AM
Quote
yosemitenut
Hey everyone,

I'm planning a trip back to Yosemite, but unfortunately won't be able to make it until either late December or early January. I know if there is snow on the ground, a lot of the valley rim hikes are technically "closed," but are there lots of people who still take them? Is it feasible to get up Upper Yosemite to check out the snow cone at the bottom of the falls? Any favorite winter hikes to suggest?

Thanks for any info you pass along.
Snow Creek trail is usally ok in winter.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/17/2011 12:16PM by grant1.
avatar Re: Yosemite Winter Hikes
September 17, 2011 12:55PM
I think the only trail that is actually closed is 4-mile trail.
Although there is the usual winter closures on Mist/JMT.

Mist trail closures
avatar Re: Yosemite Winter Hikes
September 17, 2011 02:12PM
Winter in Yosemite offers some nice possibilities if you have floatation devices - snowshoes or skis. Some options here:
http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/wildwinter.htm
http://www.yosemite.ca.us/maps/winter_maps.html
Dewey Point is an easy hike from Badger Pass.
Re: Yosemite Winter Hikes
September 17, 2011 05:16PM
This will be the first Christmas in over 15 years that we didn't spend in Yosemite Valley, so I can offer you some suggestions from past years. I assume that you are talking about day trips. If you are asking about overnight trips into the back country, that's another topic. I prefer to do those in the Spring, when the days are longer and the weather more suitable.

My first comment is that you cannot plan what to do very far in advance, because the weather is all over the map. At Christmas of 1996, there was deep snow everywhere, even in the Valley. A week later came a warm typhoon rain, a real gully-washer, which caused the worst flood in a hundred years. If there had been a normal amount of snow, it wouldn't have been nearly so bad...

Another year, there was no snow in the Valley. Badger Pass Ski Area was barely open. You could just walk to Dewey Point in your hiking boots. Every trail in the valley, and hiking up the sunny side up to the valley rim, was in fine hiking shape.

Usually, at Christmas there is little or snow on the sunny side of the valley, but there is some snow in the woods and on the shady side. You are likely to see snow or rain fall while you are there. The main problem on the valley trails will be refrozen snow, which can be rough and icy and hard to walk on. Usually Badger Pass is open for downhill skiing, and the cross country center has groomed a trail all the way to Glacier Point. They even offer (through the ski school) overnight bunks there, which is a really good deal if you don't like to ski with a heavy pack. Usually there are lot of unpacked trails in the woods, where you follow existing tracks or you can break trail yourself. The main down side to the latter is that you are likely to meet a bunch of snowshoers on the way back, who are happily obliterating the ski track that you just laid.

Four Mile Trail is always closed; there are some avalanche chutes that it crosses near the top. The Mist Trail is almost always closed. The John Muir Trail is usually open, as is the Yosemite Falls Trail, but both are subject to closure due to falling ice. Hard to predict. The Snow Creek Trail has always been open, in my experience. It is one of the main routes from the Valley to the winter hut in Tuolumne Valley. Of course, you will have to switch to skis at some point on the way up.

I have quit bringing snowshoes. Too clumsy on the trails. For bumpy re-frozen snow I wear small instep crampons on my boots. I understand that yaktrax are more versatile, especially if you are on the Yosemite Falls Trail, going from frozen ruts to bare trail to re-frozen snow, to bare trail, changing every hundred feet. But I don't own a pair of yaktrax. In any case, if you have just hiking boots, you are going to have to be very, very careful when crossing the icy re-frozen footprints on the trail. If you post-hole to the knee more than a dozen times, turn around and try another trail. You are really going to hurt yourself if you continue post-holing among the granite blocks and steps that abound on trails leading up from the Valley.

If you like hiking, don't overlook some of the lower trails that may be clear when other stuff is snow-filled. The former Coulterville Road and the lower part of the Old Big Oak Flat Road are fine hikes when others are too snowy. The road up to the fire tower by route 120 is a good hike or cross country ski route, depending on the conditions, as are the forest service roads above Foresta and the paths through the various redwood groves.

There are a lot of forum postings about the old roads. Here are a couple:
http://yosemitenews.info/forum/read.php?3,26668
http://yosemitenews.info/forum/read.php?3,26509,26509#msg-26509

and here is one about some cross country trail breaking near Badger Pass:
http://yosemitenews.info/forum/read.php?3,30738,30738#msg-30738
Re: Yosemite Winter Hikes
September 18, 2011 06:47AM
Thanks so much for that long response. Do you have a favorite place to stay that time of year?
Re: Yosemite Winter Hikes
September 18, 2011 08:43AM
Quote
yosemitenut
Thanks so much for that long response. Do you have a favorite place to stay that time of year?
I'm always with family, who insist on a place with solid walls, a heater, and a private bath. The most cost effective in the Valley would be one of the wooden cabins with bath at Curry Village. Next would be one of their motel-room-like places in the Stoneman building at at Curry, and finally the Lodge or Ahwhanee. See
http://www.yosemitepark.com/Accommodations.aspx

All these places will be sold out soon. We usually book them at the time of the previous year's stay. You can watch the web site for cancellations, if what you want isn't still available..

If you don't mind driving a lot on winter roads, you can stay in the very historic old firetrap hotel in Wawona. It's a neat place, but is far away from everything in the Valley. There are also a number of more modern places in El Portal. Highways 120 and 41 are much more likely to be closed by storms than route 140, which comes up along the Merced River. Hence, don't let them sell you on "Tenaya Lodge", which is outside the south entrance to the park, and a nasty winter drive to the stuff that you want to see.
avatar Re: Yosemite Winter Hikes
September 19, 2011 01:08AM
Quote
wherever
Quote
yosemitenut
Thanks so much for that long response. Do you have a favorite place to stay that time of year?
I'm always with family, who insist on a place with solid walls, a heater, and a private bath. The most cost effective in the Valley would be one of the wooden cabins with bath at Curry Village. Next would be one of their motel-room-like places in the Stoneman building at at Curry, and finally the Lodge or Ahwhanee. See
http://www.yosemitepark.com/Accommodations.aspx

All these places will be sold out soon. We usually book them at the time of the previous year's stay. You can watch the web site for cancellations, if what you want isn't still available..

Sold out only for the winter holidays weeks (Christmas holidays and Presidents Day week). For most other weeks during the winter, most of these lodging accommodations a readily available even without any reservations at all.

Though for the best deal, it's good to get on DNC's email mailing list since they often offer excellent discounts via special promotion codes via email. Last February, my family stayed for five days in two deluxe lodge rooms at the Yosemite Lodge for only $89 per night per room and that included two full breakfast (American Plan) meal tickets per room per night at the Lodge's food court.

Re: Places to stay
September 18, 2011 12:20PM
I have been taking my son at least once every winter since he was little. We play in the snow, go ice-skating at Curry Village, take the bus up to Badger Pass and generally enjoy ourselves thoroughly. We are however low budget types and often don't plan our get-aways more than a week or so in advance.
Three low cost winter alternatives in the valley that have never been booked up when we wanted to go.

Camping at Camp 4. Cost is $5 per person, first come first served. Don't think it ever fills up in winter.
Yosemite Lodge with its food court is a short walk away.

Camping at Upper Pines Campground. Can't remember the exact cost, maybe $20 per site.
Curry Village is a fairly short walk away.

Staying at the Curry Village UNHEATED canvas tent cabins. $20-$40 per night. There is usually some discount deal going, I think they have trouble filling these as they are unheated.

In Yosemite Valley it gets below freezing at night, but in our experience only rarely below 20 degrees. We bring two sleeping bags each and sleep plenty warm.
avatar Re: Yosemite Winter Hikes
September 20, 2011 08:10AM
Quote
wherever
The main down side to the latter is that you are likely to meet a bunch of snowshoers on the way back, who are happily obliterating the ski track that you just laid.

That's right there with the clowns carrying their snowshoes walking in a snowshoe track... postholing away.
"Lookie, I don't need snowshoes"
Yeah, because it's compacted by someone who is not a lazy butt like you!

It's fun to blaze new trail way out there... but it's a hard work!

Have fun out der
Chick-on is looking at you!



Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Yosemite Winter Hikes
September 20, 2011 10:04AM
Conditions are always different year to year,but I remember ice on rocks being the biggest hazard getting to the cave.Early P.M. would probably be the best time.Don't know if it is allowed in winter,didn't ask.A long time ago,the rules were probably very different.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 09/20/2011 11:32AM by grant1.
avatar Re: Yosemite Winter Hikes
September 20, 2011 10:22AM
I ear ya.

Conditions diff. even week to week and day to day.... depending on when last snow storm flew thru... when last cold front blasted thru... etc.



Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Yosemite Winter Hikes
September 17, 2011 08:28PM
And one of the loveliest hikes we've done in the snow is into Wawona....where there are very few people, and the trees are even more amazing



Balzaccom

follow our adventures, read our blog, or just to come hang out at our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
Re: Yosemite Winter Hikes
September 18, 2011 06:46AM
So, has anyone hiked down to the ice cone at the base of Yosemite Falls? I remember reading about it, but I don't think it was on here
Re: Yosemite Winter Hikes
September 18, 2011 02:55PM
I am pretty sure that Curry Village is only open for overnight stays on weekends for much of the winter except around Christmas.
Re: Yosemite Winter Hikes
September 18, 2011 03:23PM
Quote
hotrod4x5
I am pretty sure that Curry Village is only open for overnight stays on weekends for much of the winter except around Christmas.

That's odd. Is that new this season? It seems to be entirely closed for three weeks near the beginning of December, then open for two weeks and three weekends around Christmas, and finally open only on weekends after that. See
http://www.yosemitepark.com/Accommodations_CurryVillage.aspx
Re: Yosemite Winter Hikes
September 18, 2011 04:42PM
Not sure when it started, but it was like that last winter for sure. How were you able to determine the dates? Just random input a request?



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/18/2011 04:44PM by hotrod4x5.
Re: Yosemite Winter Hikes
September 18, 2011 04:48PM
Quote
hotrod4x5
Not sure when it started, but it was like that last winter for sure. How were you able to determine the dates? Just random input a request?
I see what you must have done, not sure what I did, but eventually was able to see a calendar with all available dates in green.
avatar Re: Yosemite Winter Hikes
September 19, 2011 01:16AM
Quote
wherever
Quote
hotrod4x5

I am pretty sure that Curry Village is only open for overnight stays on weekends for much of the winter except around Christmas.

That's odd. Is that new this season? It seems to be entirely closed for three weeks near the beginning of December, then open for two weeks and three weekends around Christmas, and finally open only on weekends after that. See
http://www.yosemitepark.com/Accommodations_CurryVillage.aspx

It's been like that for at least the past five winters (only open during weekends). Though often times, midweek in winter, Curry Village have school-age children staying there as part of the Yosemite Institute's wintertime education programs. But Curry Village has been closed midweek in winter to the rest of the public during this time.
avatar Re: Yosemite Winter Hikes
September 20, 2011 08:01AM
Quote
yosemitenut
So, has anyone hiked down to the ice cone at the base of Yosemite Falls? I remember reading about it, but I don't think it was on here
Grant1 has:
http://yosemitenews.info/forum/read.php?3,42337,46444#msg-46444

(it's been something that has been in my noggin for a long time now)
(ever since read Muir's First Summer .. )

Technically I don't think you are allowed to camp in der. But maybe OK in winter. (I'm jealous) tongue sticking out smiley

It may look something like this:

I recommend you bring crampons and sticks. Esp. if heading to the cave.
The rocks could be iced up. And get da heck away from the face in the morning
until the ice has melted off the face. (pretty dang cool to hear the ka-booms of
ice melting off it)

As for rest of Yose Falls. Enough people go up that you can get to the viewing railing
without snowshoes, sure. If you want to go beyond, bring snowshoes imo.

Yosemite Point:


Have fun
(I love winter in Yosemite)

(we're gonna spend xmas in the backcountry again this year)
Last:
http://yosemitenews.info/forum/read.php?3,30771



Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Yosemite Winter Hikes
September 20, 2011 10:43AM
It took me a few minutes looking at that photo to realize where it was taken. That's a lot of snow on UYF trail! Maybe snowshoes would be a very good idea indeed.
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