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Re: Conditions in the Valley now?

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avatar Conditions in the Valley now?
January 22, 2017 09:10PM
I expect to be in Yosemite Valley for a few days this week and I'm wondering what I need to prepare for. I'll be traveling by bus (YARTS) and I'd like to get a look (on foot) at some places like Cook's, Sentinel and Leidig meadows.The only other times I've been in the Valley in January, there was so little snow that I couldn't begin to guess what it's like with snow.

How soon after a significant snowfall do they usually clear the foot/bike paths around the Village area, the Lodge, Half Curry Village, etc.? Or do they clear them at all? If I want to walk between shuttle stops, for instance, will I be able to without (a.) wading in snow, (b.) dodging traffic or (c.) putting on snowshoes?

I do have the option of bringing snowshoes but I'm wondering how much good they'd actually do me, I don't want to be stuck hauling snowshoes around all day if I'm not going to have much use for them.
Re: Conditions in the Valley now?
January 23, 2017 12:18AM
I can't answer your question, but the Ahwahnee Meadow webcam gives you an idea of snow coverage in the eastern part of the valley, in an area that gets some sun. Go here: https://www.nps.gov/yose/learn/photosmultimedia/webcams.htm
and click on the one labeled "Half Dome".
Re: Conditions in the Valley now?
January 23, 2017 06:30AM
Bring waterproof, insulated footwear, gaiters and traction devices (microspikes may be overkill). You'll be fine.
avatar Re: Conditions in the Valley now?
January 23, 2017 08:52AM
I think that it will be amazing in the Valley this week!

They have been pounded by snow for a while and as I write this the Badger Pass Ski Area, the road to Badger Pass, Upper Pines and Camp 4 are closed, and there are various other road closures. Point being...the folks up there have been working their tails off to get the major infrastructure open, and will likely need a break before they get to the more minor stuff.

It also looks like it will be cold...expect lots of ice. If you are at the Valley floor level I would think that traction devices are a must. There is snow there but I doubt enough to require snowshoes.
avatar Re: Conditions in the Valley now?
January 23, 2017 08:42PM
. . . snip . . .
Upper Pines and Camp 4 are closed
. . . snip . . .

sad smiley

. . . Upper Pines Campground & Camp 4 are closed Monday night due to the risk of tree failures as a result of snow load and saturated soil . . .
Yosemite Campground Status

any ideas when are they opening back up?
avatar Re: Conditions in the Valley now?
January 23, 2017 09:22AM
Thanks, folks, I'll let you know what I find. smiling smiley
avatar Re: Conditions in the Valley now?
January 23, 2017 12:31PM
Got this alert today:

Due to Heavy Snow, Yosemite is experiencing increased tree failures. Residents and employees are asked to limit all unnecessary travel, including pedestrian, in all developed areas.
avatar Re: Conditions in the Valley now?
January 29, 2017 03:31PM
There was about two feet of snow in the Yosemite Village area when I got there on Tuesday. All the paved bike paths in the area seemed to have been plowed clear of loose snow but there was plenty of packed snow and ice underfoot:

I had Yaktraks with me put I never put them on. The Lodge, in particular, had signs up warning visitors not to wear traction devices indoors because of the danger of slipping and falling. Of course those could have been motivated partly by concern for what spikes would do to their floors. winking smiley

Early in the morning (like 8 AM), temps in the Valley seemed to be in the 20s (F). Everything was frozen solid and traction with ordinary hiking boots (Merrell Moabs) wasn't that bad, The paths were a mix of hard-packed snow, rough refrozen ice, smooth "black ice", and some bare asphalt. I used trekking poles (uncapped to expose the carbide tips) wherever I went, and wouldn't have wanted to go very far without them. In the afternoon, temps in some of the warmer places got into the 50s so all the snow and ice was a lot slipperier.

I'd bought a pair of oversize boots to try in cold weather. I wasn't sure how they were going to work out, but with two pairs of "expedition socks" they were perfect for both fit and warmth.

The trails that were officially open had already seen a lot of use and were nicely packed down. I ventured up the UYFT a few hundred feet (of elevation). I could've gone even farther but the process of finding traction was pretty tiring and (as I expected) it was even harder on the way down. I ended up using a variation of my gravel-sprinkled-granite technique. I'd sometimes have my feet planted against the rocks (or whatever) at the edges of the trail, my poles at maximum length out in front of me, and be picking my way down half a step at a time. I don't think the Yaktraks would have helped much. My boot treads were typically digging into the packed snow pretty well but I didn't trust the snow not to wipe out under me. I made maximum use of the partly-exposed rocks.

There was a lot of snow still in the trees, and in the warmer parts of the day clumps of it would fall on the trail. From the sound they made, some of them seemed to weigh as much as five pounds. I didn't get nailed but sometimes when snowballs started raining down around me, I'd scramble up a slope a little faster than I felt comfortable doing.

I did bring snowshoes with me on my second day (of three), and tried them out for about an hour between the Swinging Bridge picnic area and the bottom of the Four Mile Trail. I might have gone a little farther but I didn't really have a destination in mind. I'd worried about where/how I was going to put the snowshoes on, since I didn't want to try to cross Southside Drive while wearing them and the snow looked deep on the other side. Fortunately the berm that had been thrown up by the snowplow was nice and solid, so I could stand/kneel on top of it while donning (and doffing) the shoes. I'd brought a kneeling pad with me, and found it quite useful.

Although it's possible to get to, from, and around the Valley carrying snowshoes, that part wasn't a lot of fun. On a shuttle bus, I'd take up two seats; on YARTS, I'd ask the driver to stow my pack and snowshoes in the cargo hold.

Half Curry Village was closed when I was there (apparently open weekends only) so the NatureBridge kids were staying at the Lodge instead. The shuttle buses were running, this time on two loops: one loop covering all the stops, the other only between the Lodge and that sort-of-majestic-looking hotel near Ahwahnee Meadow.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/30/2017 11:33AM by gophersnake.
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