Generally I try to do a couple of winter trips. Real ones – with camping in the snow. This year’s winter trips were either rainy or too warm. The trip a couple of weeks prior to Ludlow Hut was very wet with cold rain pretty much dominating the weather. However, by this time (early March) the weather became quite warm – almost as warm as in late spring. Yosemite would be a good place to go, however, the regular Yosemite winter route – Badger Pass to Glacier Point – was outright closed, let alone plowed. Lassen NP could be a good choice. But it is a bit far.
My friend Girish had a childcare-free weekend so, mostly, he had to come up with something to backpack on a short notice. As a result, Yosemite worked fine. In fact we could have done some very nice summer routes without the hassles of crowds and permits (the permit was self-issue at the entrance). The planning for this trip was a bit last minute. I actually had to pack on Friday evening a hour before start. It was a bit more stressful for me than usual, but I managed.
Friday, March 6, 2015
Driving was through Fremont where my team member leaves. It was on the way and since he would be driving I was obligated to go there. It wasn’t too bad and we made it to Yosemite by about midnight. The air was clear and crisp, but there was no sign of snow. However, there was enough light to make some night photos. We picked a site in one of the walk-in campgrounds and settled for the night. Again, this would have been an impossible feat to do in Summer.
Saturday, March 7, 2015
Beautiful weather in the morning. Very early morning. Since we arrived to Lower Pines campground a bit late the only empty site we could find was on the way to the toilet. As a result the other residents, who probably went to bed earlier, started using it very early in the morning. Then those giant Yosemite ravens started most probably looking for food and discussing something with each other. Regular campground life. We broke the camp and headed to Curry Village for some food and campground payment.
We reached the designated 4 mile trail at about 11AM. A bit late, but doable. Left the car just on the side of the road with the full view of Yosemite falls and headed up. Nice. I fish this park was like that in Summer.
The trail was reasonably crowded. We met one group of “campers” going down (they really stayed at the hut). The rest were just day-hikers. Since we started a bit late most of the people were already going down. We, on the other hand, were slowly progressing upward. We had to carry quite a bit of weight, especially all the water for two days.
We reached Glacier Point at reasonable time – still light and sooner than I expected. There were still some people walking around. It was a bit strange looking for a place to put our tent. Generally this area is used as a viewpoint in Summer. Essentially it is a parking lot. In normal Winter it is covered by snow so it doesn’t look like a parking lot and have no people. Now – it was like camping at a vista point in a national park. Doable but weird. Eventually we picked the little hut designated as a Geology Hut. Luxurious, with even better view. There was just a little problem which we would find later.
Closer to sunset the day-hikers disappeared. There were a couple more people staying overnight. However, there was no-one in the Ski Hut. In fact it was open so we could have just stayed there. But then it wouldn’t be camping.
We did a lot of different night photography after dusk (memory is cheap), before full moon came up and flooded everything with light. It was nice and not cold at all.
Sunday, March 8, 2015
Camping at the Geology Hut turned out to be not that much fun. It had very nice springy wooden floor that transferred any movements everywhere. As a result, I could really feel any Girish’s movements and especially his walking. He got up early to get some dawn photos that I’m yet to see.
After simple breakfast we slowly started down. There was no rush – just 4 miles all downhill. We saw the first person right below the rim of Glacier Point. It was kind of early. But it turned out that this day was the time change. We saw some people climbing uphill while enjoying easy hike down. We made it to the car by 1PM or so. It was still there on the side of the rad without any ticket.
It was a nice trip. The sad part was that this nice trip was made possible by almost complete lack of snow this season.