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There's No Creek Like Snow Creek...

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There's No Creek Like Snow Creek...
March 27, 2013 07:33PM
You've seen the photosynths; now for the old-school TR. This time, another classic: up Snow Creek, around to North Dome, across to Yosemite Point, then down the falls trail.

After parking at the Lodge area, I took the waiting shuttle bus to the Mirror Lake shuttle stop. It was definitely spring in the valley--very pleasant along Tenaya Creek. The climb up the Snow Creek switchbacks was warm, but not uncomfortable. The views across the canyon of Clouds Rest, Half Dome, and the Quarter Domes were wonderful as always.



The flat area around 6500' at the top of the switchbacks was mostly snow free, perhaps a bit less snow than there had been last Thanksgiving.



I had a snack a the flat area, where I saw the only people I'd encounter until Yosemite Point. Unfortunately, I didn't leave this area until about noon... the steep climbing was over, but... as is typical in early season, snow slowed me down past this point. Near the cascades along Porcupine Creek (I bet these are nice when not under a lot of snow), I put on my snowshoes.



Snow coverage was 100% from here until the ridge above North Dome. I had done this trail several times--mostly in snow--and some old footprints and an occasional exposed cut lot or grown-over blaze helped with routefinding, but I did manage to get off track not too far from where my wife and I camped for the first time in the backcountry.

The snow to this point had been mostly firm and crusty, but it felt like I was snowshoeing up soft, white sand during the brief climb to the Indian Arch junction.



After this junction I saw some fresh footprints; oddly, they hadn't come up via either Snow Creek or from Yosemite Falls. North Dome gully? The snow thinned out by the ridge above North Dome, where I stopped for another snack.



My progress through the snow had been slow, and it was about 3:00 when I left this ridge, with about 7 or so miles to go. I decided not to do the spur to North Dome itself. I had been hoping for less snow on the way to Yosemite Point, but was greeted with waist-deep powder just past the North Dome spur trail. In fact there was generally less snow--about the right amount so that the decision to wear or not wear snowshoes always seemed to be the wrong one.

At Indian Canyon creek, I thought of taking the old "trail" down, but it was getting late and I didn't want to try to find a trail that has been abandoned for over 100 years with a headlamp. Also, there are several nice views between this creek and Yosemite Point along the official trail.

At Yosemite Point I was greeted with the usual great views as well as a group of young (high school?) hikers who had come up via Yosemite Falls.



Despite the late hour, people were still climbing up to Yosemite Point... but it also looked like there would be enough light to last the trip down.



I had another snack at Yosemite Point, but then started down the falls trail. Some work has been done on it, but there are still many stretches of loose-sand-and-gravel-on-polished-rip-rap that required careful foot placement.



For those who are wondering, the snow cone is still there:



It was a bit of a race with the sun to the bottom, but I managed to get to my car while it was still light. While walking through the parking lot, Sentinel Falls was framed with some slivers of golden light... I wonder if there's a time of year when it becomes a "firefall"...



All in all, another wonderful off-season day-hike in Yosemite.

More Pictures



Not-at-all-official Yosemiteinfo Forum challenge: In this picture (taken from Yosemite Point), locate the following: 1) the microwave reflector above Union Point; 2) Agassiz Rock; 3) the Glacier Point waterworks. Bonus points for identifying an abandoned segment of the old Four Mile trail.

avatar Re: There's No Creek Like Snow Creek...
March 27, 2013 08:07PM
Excellent report...and a hefty day hike! I followed in your footsteps...sort of. Had planned to get to Tuolumne but circumstances once again conspired against me...I guess it just wasn't to be this year. Still had three days, however, and I convinced my kids, who were ion spring break, to go to the high country. The trip morphed several times in the few days before we left...from Tuolumne from the 395 side, to Sentinel Dome from Badger, and finally up Snow Creek, Mt Watkins for a day and then back to the valley via North Dome and Yosemite Falls as you did. My college son invited a friend who had never been to Yosemite, so we drove up, played tour guide for an afternoon in the valley, and left from Curry at 9 the next morning. There are 108 switchbacks on the Snow Creek trail, and we did 108...unfortunately 54 of them were up and the next 54 were back down, as it was clear the friend was not going to make it. So we made the best of it...spent a second night at Curry and did the Old Big Oak Flat Road to Rainbow view today. I wish I had followed all of your footsteps, and not just some of them!
Re: There's No Creek Like Snow Creek...
March 28, 2013 02:20PM
I'm a bit glad that you didn't literally follow my footsteps... especially where I kept going up and down a steep sidehill trying to find the trail. I mean 1) with 100% snow coverage, it really didn't matter if I was on/near the trail or not, and 2) my handy GPS provided the answer in 10 seconds once I decided to use it. I blame it on fatigue-induced stubbornness... Hopefully the incoming storms will be enough to hide these tracks...

I've never counted the switchbacks up Snow Creek... 108 sounds about right.

Quote
Bearproof
I wish I had followed all of your footsteps, and not just some of them!
avatar Re: There's No Creek Like Snow Creek...
March 28, 2013 03:19PM
Quote
basilbop
I've never counted the switchbacks up Snow Creek... 108 sounds about right.

Chick-on and I counted them a few weeks ago on our way down. But I think that there are about 3 times as many going up!
avatar Re: There's No Creek Like Snow Creek...
March 28, 2013 01:07AM
Thanks for the detailed trip report!

Quote
basilbop


Not-at-all-official Yosemiteinfo Forum challenge: In this picture (taken from Yosemite Point), locate the following: 1) the microwave reflector above Union Point; 2) Agassiz Rock; 3) the Glacier Point waterworks. Bonus points for identifying an abandoned segment of the old Four Mile trail.



Here's my entry to this challenge:

avatar Re: There's No Creek Like Snow Creek...
March 28, 2013 06:16AM
Awesome trip report. Thank you and thanks for the pictures.
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