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Re: Questions for a short winter trip

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Questions for a short winter trip
January 17, 2013 07:19PM
Hello there knowledgeable Yosemite folk.

I'm in the park for a couple of nights in mid Feb for the first time. Really looking forward to taking some landscape shots as I'm a fairly keen photographer.

I really want to get up out of the valley and from what I've read, unless there has been a recent snowfall this shouldn't be too difficult on the more popular trails - is this correct?

I understand you can rent showshoes fairly easily also, from badger ski area, although this seems to be in a different area than where I'm staying (camp curry).

At the moment I'm thinking upper Yosemite falls looks good. I know it's always a tough hike, but are there things I should be particularly aware of? from photos it seems like there are some patches that could be dicey if they're iced over.

If that is probably a bit ambitious for a first timer, does anyone have a recommendation for good valley views, hikes etc?

FYI I'm fairly fit, 29 yr old from NZ, keen downhill skier so feel reasonably comfortable in alpine environments, but haven't snowshoe'd before. I

Any tips or glaring omissions you'd like to give / point out would be most appreciated! Thanks very much. Matt
Re: Questions for a short winter trip
January 17, 2013 07:59PM
I would consider Yosemite Falls, Snow Creek (past Mirror Lake) to the large flat area just before the bridge/junction, and Dewey Point from the Badger Pass ski area. You can take a shuttle bus from the valley to Badger and rent snowshoes there; you generally will not need snowshoes for Yos Falls or Snow Creek unless there was a recent cold storm.

If you are a bit more adventurous, consider renting cross-country (Nordic) skis at Badger and skiing along the groomed Glacier Point road to a place called "Clark View", which has good views and makes for a decent day ski from Badger.

On the less adventurous side, the valley loop trail is great for photography--I would look at going from Happy Isles to Mirror Lake, going around the Tenaya Canyon loop, then continue to/past the Ahwahnee, if not beyond to lower Yosemite Falls and eventually the lodge area.

Oh, and don't forget the Sequoia groves either on your way in or out of the park (if you take 120 or 41). I believe they rent snowshoes at Wawona and Crane Flat.
Re: Questions for a short winter trip
January 17, 2013 08:28PM
Thanks for the useful info, that's given me some more ideas to look at.

I'd looked into skiing around badger - I did a little cross-country when I was younger, but was thinking it might be a bit too much to bite off, or difficult to organise renting the right gear etc.

Since I would want to take a bit of photography gear it might be a bit tough to re-learn my technique with a fair bit of weight on my back as well. Probably best to stick to the trails.

It looks like there are a few spots on the yosemite falls trail that have good vantage points of the valley, is this correct? Then I suppose I can always turn around without feeling like I've wasted my time.

Snow creek looks similar, topography wise, I'm assuming (eep) that you get a pretty good view back to half dome & north dome down the valley?

Of course by all accounts the main thing I've heard is that wherever I go it will be sensory overload! so I'm sure I won't be wanting for views...
avatar Re: Questions for a short winter trip
January 17, 2013 08:36PM
Here's a photo album that includes shots from the Yosemite Creek Trail: Yosemite Trip, December 2012. Chick-On posted more recent pictures Here.

Here's one that includes views from the Snow Creek Trail (it also includes views from Mt. Watkins, which won't be day-trippable): November 2011 Snow Creek Trip.

Here's the view from the flat area 1/4 mile south from where the Snow Creek Trail crosses Snow Creek (don't expect it this snow-free, winter 2011-2012 was absurdly dry):

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/17/2013 08:36PM by ttilley.
avatar Re: Questions for a short winter trip
January 18, 2013 07:03AM
I would recommend that if you want to hike beyond Yose Falls (say, to Yosemite Pt.)
or up on the rim on the Snow Creek Trail... that you carry snowshoes.
Made the mistake of not carrying snowshoes on Snow Creek one December
and we postholed up the ying-yang up there. Had fun and spent the night... but it would
have been more enjoyable had we had snow shoes.
You need not even go all the way up... to the location quite high up where the BIG
switchback is... imho ... you'll be going ooo.. ahh... outta control.
Snow Creek is nicer than Yose Falls... but you have to hike quite a long way before
you even start going up.
The other location not mentioned so far is Clark Pt. On the JMT.
It's the spot in the fifth picture here:

Have fun

Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Questions for a short winter trip
January 18, 2013 07:05AM
Snow Crk vs. Yose Falls. By nicer I mean the views are better for more of the trail.
You really should go up Yose Falls to the turn at least and hear the ice BOOMing off
the wall.

Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Questions for a short winter trip
January 20, 2013 05:29PM
Awesome, thanks for the links! those photos are exactly what I'm after, gives a great idea of what I can expect going up the falls. The view across the valley to half dome looks pretty amazing, and clear for most of the way up (maybe to the bottom of the upper falls I'm guessing?)

Looks like there wasn't much snow at all. From what i've seen on the webcams there's quite a bit more than that, but I suppose a lot can change over the next three weeks.
avatar Re: Questions for a short winter trip
January 20, 2013 05:36PM
I suppose a lot can change over the next three weeks.

Right now it looks like a storm will be coming in next weekend. Though that may of course change.
Re: Questions for a short winter trip
January 20, 2013 03:56PM
Thanks all again for the really useful advice!

chick-on; those are some great photos, have spent a bit of time looking through some of yours and it seems like you're pretty intrepid - nice! love some of those photos where it looks like you've made first tracks in the snow, that is the kind of hiking I'd love to have the time and gear for!

QITNL; yep definitely considering the sun angle - looks like max elevation is 40 degrees, yikes! hence the shadows... but should also make for nice texturing, light, if you are shooting in the right direction!

By the sounds of it, I can get some really great stuff by doing a few half-hikes, getting up out of the valley a bit but not so high as to take a huge amount of time or risk some really dodgy conditions (all of this could go out the window at a storm's notice I guess).

Think I might head up to inspiration point, then maybe half way up yosemite falls and then if time up to clark point or union point. I know that's a lot of uphill hiking, but that doesn't phase me too much, and that should give me a lot of options for which direction I shoot, given the time of day (ie clark / union in the morning, yosemite in the afternoon).
avatar Re: Questions for a short winter trip
January 17, 2013 08:29PM
The sun is pretty low in the sky and works against you most of the day if you are shooting towards the south. Once you turn the corner, you're stuck in a gully for most of the way up Yosemite Falls. The trails on the north side of the valley are best late afternoon to sunset. You can get nice shots of Half Dome & Tenaya Canyon from the Snow Creek Trail. The Old Big Oak Flat Road past El Cap is pretty popular, good light on the big rock and the signature Bridalveil shot.

If you are at Curry it's a short scramble up to Sierra Point but if the initial talus slide is full of snow you might not want to chance it. Head up the 4-mile trail for a bit and the views start to open up. You might be able catch a "firefall" shot.

It should take you about 100 yards to figure showshoes out. You got all day if you are south of the valley shooting north.
Re: Questions for a short winter trip
January 20, 2013 12:24PM
Any of these suggestions will give you some great views -- just make sure you have the right equipment for the trail. I found out the hard way that they aren't renting snowshoes at Curry Village this year. To do the top of Yosemite Falls, you don't need snowshoes -- but you do need Yaktrax (snow chains for your boots). The trail gets slick with plenty of snow and ice -- but you will walk on a lot of rock that complicates the use of snowshoes.

Dewey Point is a great snowshoe or cross-country ski trek -- just past Badger Pass where you can pick up either set of equipment.

Good Luck!
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