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Yes, this jewel of a National Park is close enough to make it an easy weekend trip for us. Our friend Ted suggested that we meet up for the MLK holiday weekend and offered to secure a campsite for us in the Wawona Campground, as they would arrive first.
January has been a wild ride, weather wise for us with snow, then pounding high elevation rain, and finishing off with lowering snow levels and near record snowfalls. Yosemite was closed for several days with flooding and downed trees, reopening just before our visit. All roads - including in the valley - in the Park were under chain control requirements the entire MLK weekend.
I picked up the Lady after school and we headed south on highway 49. After a dinner stop in Mariposa, we began the climb up from Oakhurst into the Park. Traffic was light on this dark night but we encountered the usual folks learning about snow and ice on mountain roads and chain and cable issues. Our favorite encounter was a SUV stopped in the middle of the road, no flashers on, with six young people all out of the vehicle. "Is this important?" a woman asked as she held up a complete inner fender skirt up to our window when we stopped to see if we could help. It was the apparent victim of a miss installed tire traction devise.
The Teds evening fire was embers when we arrived at the campground to their warm welcome. A quick setup and it was time to turn in for the night. The rush of the South Fork of the Merced River assured a sound sleep.
The Teds graciously freed up their back seats so we could ride together to explore Yosemite Valley on Saturday. We were excited at the chance to see the reawakened waterfalls after the recent deluge.
Our first stop, of course, was Tunnel View.
Shockingly evident are all the dead trees, a sign of the drought induced tree mortality crisis in the Sierra Nevada. These two links provide more information -
Just down the road was the parking area for Bridalveil Fall.
Water flow rates had dropped considerably but were still high and the air temperature hovered just above freezing.
The trail to the base of Bridalveil Fall was well signed. The snow was packed down to white ice. Near the base of the fall, the spray froze to all surfaces with a build up of a quarter inch and more of clear ice.
It was best not to be involved with the other visitors.
We moseyed along the footpath that parallels the road and took in the view of Horsetail Fall on the north wall.
The valley floor was marvelous with its winter colors.................
.............and sound of falling waters.
We drove up and parked in the area formerly known as Curry Village. Glacier Point towered above.
A good hint that road conditions are dicey is being passed by a Zamboni.
Ted suggested that we walk up to Happy Isles and up the John Muir Trail to the bridge over the Merced River below Vernal Fall.
Ted was rewarded with feminine attention.
The sun disappeared behind the ridge and the canyon grew even colder.
The rain washed vertical granite was covered in ice.
As the view opened up into Yosemite Valley with our descent, Upper Yosemite Fall
caught the day's last sunlight.
Cold descended into the valley and drew moisture from the snow creating a shroud of fog.
A friend suggested a black & white approach to the above photo. I'm hardly versed it this, but here goes.
The appearance of a pair of coyotes caused a traffic jam as we drove.
It was well after dark when we returned to Wawona Campground but even with the crowds Yosemite still weaves its magic. It was a very nice day.
Sunday the Lady and I headed to Badger Pass to backcountry ski out toward Glacier Point. Prior to the last storm cycle the area had little snow cover with many bare patches. After the storm it now had a good six foot base. Along with the new snow came the crowds. We took deep breaths, worked up bushels of patience, and backed into the very last available parking spot. The ski area had opened this weekend. Besides all the people on the groomed, it was wonderful to see all the people using the winter backcountry of Yosemite with skis and snowshoes and many out on overnight outings.
A note - my camera was hit by a couple of wet snow bombs as we walked to the Vernal Fall bridge and a couple of the controls failed. I dried the camera out - placed it near the furnace - overnight. After working our way through the crowds to the trailhead at Badger Pass, I found I had forgotten the camera. No way did I want to work back to the parked truck to retrieve it so I rationalized a longer drying period was best for it. I have no photos to share of our time on 3 pins. Photos of our past ski trip to Glacier Point can be found Here.
We did a quick 8 miles round trip out and back. We enjoyed the cold. It was cold and it felt wonderful.
We were lazy Monday morning, no need to rush. We enjoyed a long walk with the Teds down through the closed loops of the campground along the South Fork. We said our goodbyes with hardy hugs all around and the Lady and I headed north back into Yosemite Valley to head home via Groveland and highway 120.
We had to stop below El Capitan. It is required, is it not?
Water, in places, still slipped over the edge...............
....................and oaks on the valley floor were still draped with snow.
Our conversation on the drive home kept coming back to the Lady's retirement in five months and no longer the need for holiday weekends for an extra day.........................seems appropriate, does it not?