February 2, 2010

Snowshoe therapy

Seems like my posting has become more sporadic of late. I went through a depressed spell for a while where I was struggling to get things done. Fortunately life seems to be on an upswing for the moment. Getting out into the woods really helped. This past weekend Allen and I went back up to Yosemite for some snowshoeing. Neither one of us had ever been on snowshoes before, and we ended up having a lot of fun. We got to the campground around 10:30, but setting up took a little longer than we expected. For one thing there was about 6 inches of snow on the ground. Hmmmm. Out came the snowshoes, and we got our first taste of snowshoeing tramping down a smooth place to set up the tent. Second hmmmm. There was still too much snow for the tent stakes to grab well. Since I didn't have any sort of snow anchor I ended up improvising with a pair of stakes. I pounded on in as usual and hooked a second stake to it that would lay horizontally, packed snow all around the stakes, and horizontal surface area was enough to the corners to hold. I admit I have a blast with this sort of mildly creative problem solving while out camping. Later, in our sleeping bags, Allen remarked that it's a lot of fun watching me come alive when we start setting up camp. It's true. All those times I'd tell Allen to fire up the stove while I set up the tent. He'd heat up supper while I was happily (baring the truly unrepentant rock) pounding in tent stakes.

The next morning we woke up, fixed lunch, outfitted our day packs, and headed up for Badger Pass. It had rained that night in the valley, and all the way up we saw great clumps of fresh snow ornamenting the pine trees. Once at the trail head we grabbed our snowshoes and headed out to Dewey Point -seven miles round trip. Looking at pictures of winter trails I used to wonder why no one ever went tramping off trail through all that lovely snow. Now, I know. Unless there's a healthy crust on the stuff, snowshoes or no, you'll still sink in to mid-calf, and breaking trail is hard work. The other thing I didn't realize was just how warm you can get snowshoeing. With memories of playing in the snow at Wolf Pass with my family filling the back of my mind I donned two base layers, a fleece pullover, rain/wind jacket, hat, and gloves. Within minutes I had skinned out of my jacket, and by the time we reached the Dewey Pt trail proper I was down to my base layer top and had stashed my hat and gloves in my pack. I ended up losing my hat somewhere on the trail :( It was new too. Hopefully someone will turn it in. Anyway, even having stashed most of my layers I still got warm whenever we had a pull uphill. As for pants, Allen had found some cheap rain pants that ended up working like a dream for keeping wind and wet snow from getting us cold.

We ate our midday snack in a pretty meadow maybe a third of the way in on the Dewey Point trail before pressing on towards the point. Seeing everyone coming back towards up from the point we wondered if we were just a little bit crazy going on as we were, but when we got to the point....You come out on top of the south rim of Yosemite Valley just opposite El Capitan with a perfect view of Half Dome partially shrouded with feathery clouds that gravely danced in and out of the valley. Looking west you could see the outlines of tents perched on the shoulder on a hill with what must have been unbelievable views of the sunset reflected of Half Dome and the following moonrise over the cliffs. We sat on our blue foam pads contemplating the view and eating our sandwiches. I saw someone appear on the edge of the hill as if having emerged from one of the tents. Maybe next year I could think of a trip like that. For now I had to be content with watching the sky changing colors above the fringe of evergreens that grew up along the meadows we passed through on our way back down the trail. We hit the main trail back down the mountain just before sunset and spent a few minutes appreciating the modern convenience located close to the trail head. Getting back on the trail we realized just how close we'd come to hiking the last half mile in ever deepening twilight. Here on the main trail, which was really a summer roadbed groomed for skiing we'd have no difficulty navigating downhill to the car. Out in the woods we'd have been following tracks back, and that's never my favorite way to travel a new trail at night. We got back to the car an hour after sunset with only a little aid from Allen's new headlamp. Overall a very successful trip.

The next day we drove around the valley, walked the short trail to Yosemite Falls for a third time (saw deer tracks), wrote postcards, and took lots of pictures. Then we broke camp, showered at Curry, and headed back towards home after taking a short detour to the swinging bridge in Wawona. That's where my knee started acting up. I think I must have turned my foot wrong or something when went off trail. Somehow I strained the side of my knee. At least I was persuaded we should head home instead of hiking more. Including a stop for bbq we got home around 10pm, so we really didn't need to linger any longer however much the glow of lowering sun on snow tempted me.

I can't wait to go back there again. I'm hoping to get in another couple of trips before the snow melts. Then one more trip in the spring, and afterward I'll probably be turning my attention to less popular parks until fall arrives. There are so many lovely places to go, and I'm blessed to live this close to so many of them.

1 comment:

Persuaded said...

Wow, what an intrepid gal you are. I am very impressed at your hardiness, especially since I am a very anti-hardy sort of gal myself;)

My son has snowshoes and he loves them. He actually wore out his first pair... thankfully Nana and Grampa got him a new pair for Christmas.
Have a blessed evening♥