Have I told you how lucky I am? I am so lucky to call so many lovely ladies my nearest, dearest, bestest friends. My friend Leah, who I've had the fortune to see once a month for the past three months, is just zaney enough to say yes to snow camping with me in Yosemite. Yeah, camping in winter, we're mad.
Leah and I planned this trip mostly over a Google doc and one phone call. We're very efficient boss ladies. Leah took a winter camping course at her local REI to prep. I read LOTSA things on the internet. So, same, ya know.
Here's our plan and comments about what actually happened:
Amy leaves DC at 5 pm and arrives in San Francisco at 10:30 pm. Time travel! Amazing! My flight leaving DC was 40 minutes late taking off- NOT AT ALL PANIC INDUCING FOR MY 1 HOUR LAYOVER. We made up time in the air and only arrived 10 minutes late, making my connection less panic filled.
Leah picks REI rentals (camping stove, sleeping mats), preps other camping gear, picks Amy up from SFO. If we could recommend one/two things it would be our REI rentals. The camp stove and sleeping mats were a lifesaver. Props to David, Leah's husband, for his help in gather, picking up and prepping help. When Leah picked me up from SFO, we headed directly to In and Out Burger. YAS!
Wake up, pack car, drive to the mountains. Basically what happened. Zeke the dog was nervously taking in all the things going on about the house and probably disapproving of it all. On our drive in we stopped in Stanislaus National Park vista point.
Get to Yosemite, figure out snow chains, set up camp. The park was shrouded in mist and clouds as it was a rainy day in Yosemite Valley. Snow chains weren't too awful to figure out, we are boss ladies. Then we were on our way to figure out getting a campsite. We had a minor.. motor mishap in a parking lot. Let's just say it was a situation that builds character. On to the campsite!
Go to Upper Pines, set up camp, make dinner- huzzah! Our character building exercise took up a lot of our set-up-camp time, so it was late dusk by the time we made camp. It was drizzling while we were in the valley but not too hard. By the time we reached camp it was holding off and the tree cover helped. Tent was set, dinner was cooked, dry shoes, socks and warm snow pants on we were finally settled into our campsite. Once we settled into the tent for the night the rain really started in earnest.
Wake up! Travel to Badger Pass to meet our snowshoeing hiking group through the giant Sequoias. We woke up SUPER EARLY, make breakfast (burritos!) and broke down camp to head out to our snowshoeing meeting point.
After climbing the mountain in the car and finding the meeting point, we were told that we were not to meet there but back down in the valley for our hike. In Leah's expert planning she had printed out the confirmation email that said we were to meet at Badger Pass. We were refunded and offered comp'd snow snowshoes for the day. The clerk mentioned at shorter snowshoe hike lead by a park ranger. I would highly recommend this hike- it's every day at 10:30 am and it's entirely free, with a suggested donation of $5. DO IT! While we missed out on giant trees, this was a fun and challenging hike that gave a reward of a seeing the Sierra Nevada mountains in the horizon at the top.
Ranger Dick, who lead the hike, was a displaced New Englander who hadn't lost his Massachusetts lilt. The hike started with him talking about the history and variety of snowshoes. During hike breaks, much needed as we were climbing a ski slope, he talked about the flora, fauna and animal behavior of Yosemite in winter time.
Do any last Yosemite things and then head back to the Bay area. We visited the visitor's center, bought matching magnets, AS YOU DO, walked around a bit, and then got back in the car to head out.
That's really the whole trip! My only goal was to spend time with my friend and have an adventure. Those goals were 100% accomplished. I would love to go again, even in winter. There is something very majestic about these mountains topped with snow and the peacefulness the park.