February 20, 2011

Yosemite Snowshoeing

We had decided months ago that Presidents Day weekend would be a good time to head to Yosemite National Park to snowshoe and camp. With the recent storms we were really excited to see all of the fresh snow. But first things first. We had never snowshoed before so our first stop was REI the day before to rent snowshoes. We paid a total of $30 for two sets of MSR Ascents. We now had our gear so we just needed to decide which trail to do. Being new to snowshoeing we wanted something easy. We looked through the snowshoe guides that Yosemite puts online and decided to do the Tuolomne Grove. The trek is rated as easy and is just over 2 miles roundtrip. To reach the Tuolomne Grove trailhead we entered the park via Highway 120. Chains or 4WD were required. The sides of the roads and trees were covered in snow making the drive beautiful. We stopped at the Crane Flat gas station to fill up and use the restrooms. They were still in the process of digging out the station after all the recent snow. The trailhead for Tuolomne Grove is one mile past the gas station along Tioga Pass Road. The trailhead is actually as far as you can go along Tioga Pass during the winter. We parked and grabbed our gear. With snowshoes on we began the one mile downhill trek to reach the grove. Based on conditions of the trail only a few people had gone out before us. It was amazing to be out in all the fresh powder. All of the trees were covered and their branches were weighed down by all the snow. We followed the tracks of those before us into the grove. We circled through the trees to a large downed hollowed Sequoia, which we could see into. Not sure if that tree has a name or a story to it. We continued across a small creek to the Tunnel Tree. We took our photos and a quick break before continuing on. We finished our circling of the grove and headed back toward the trailhead, now going uphill. We passed many more people on our way back to the car. For our first time snowshoeing it was alot of fun. It was also quite tiring. We were definitely ready for some lunch by the time we got back to the car. We'll probably try to snowshoe once or twice each winter from now on. We might even buy our own shoes to avoid the need to rent.