January 17, 2010

Yosemite in Winter

The holiday weekend provided a little extra time for some outdoor fun. A few months ago we made plans to head to Yosemite and booked one night at the Yosemite Lodge. This was not really going to be a trip to be really active but more of a chance to just get outdoors and enjoy Yosemite’s winter beauty. We left early Saturday morning from the bay area and headed in via highway 140. We arrived just before 10am and headed straight to Bridalveil Falls. This is where we saw something we have never had the privilege of seeing before at Yosemite-no crowds! The parking lot for the fall had only one other car parked in it. We visit Yosemite a couple times each year, always during the summer months but haven’t been during winter since childhood. So seeing the parking lot empty was weird to say the least. We scurried up the trail to the base of the fall and took a few pictures. There was not a lot of snow as it had been several weeks since snow hit the valley, but the snow that was there made for a very different experience than what we are used to. We jumped back in the car and headed further into the valley. We pulled off the road to take some pictures of El Capitan. This is something we have never done before because normally there is a long line of cars parked here taking pictures, and we had never wanted to deal with the hassle. On this day there were only three cars pulled off the road in this area. We proceeded to Curry Village where amazement would hit again.  The parking lot was empty. Definitely had never seen an almost empty parking lot at Curry Village. Usually we have to drive to the far back corners of the lot to find a spot, but this time we were first row.  We checked out the ice skating rink where there were several families having a good time.  Happy Isles Trailhead was next on the list. We decided to walk to the footbridge where we got some photos of Vernal Falls. There were several other people making the walk, but nothing compared to the numbers you would see during the summer. After some photos and hiking back, hunger was really setting in. We went back to Curry Village and had a pizza for lunch. After lunch we made our way to Yosemite Village with a quick stop at Sentinel Bridge for some great photos of Half Dome. Once in Yosemite Village we made our usual stop at the Ansel Adams Gallery and made the short walk to the Ahwahnee Hotel. On the way there we came across a deer feeding just off the walking path and stopped to admire and take pictures. After the Ahwahnee we noticed we had some time to spare before checking into the lodge so we walked to the base of Lower Yosemite Falls. This trail did have more foot traffic but not nearly as much as summer time. There was noticeably more water flow at the lower falls but not much at the upper falls. It was time to check into Yosemite Lodge.  Once settled into our room we had dinner at the nearby food court and then headed to the Ranger Talk that night on one of our favorite topics-BEARS! It proved to be a great one hour talk. Time for bed, although it proved to be a rough night. There was some periodic noise in our room, we think from the heater but can’t be sure. Walls are thin and room wasn’t as clean as we had hoped either. Nevertheless we got some much needed sleep and were up early the next day.  We stopped at the food court again and had breakfast, and took a few more pictures of Lower Yosemite Falls since it was quite a different view in the early morning. We made our way out of the park with a last minute stop at Cascade Falls for a few more pictures.

Bridalveil Falls

Half Dome

Ice Skating at Curry Village

The Ahwahnee Hotel

Yosemite Falls