Thursday, January 28, 2016

Yosemite: Snowshoe To Dewey Point

Dale Matson

Click On Photographs To Enlarge
View From Dewey Point

Trailhead Badger Pass, Beginning altitude about 7,200’, 750’ ascent, distance about 8 miles round trip, 5-6 hours

This trip can be done faster on c.c. Skis but it is not a trip I would recommend for a novice skier. The last 1.5 miles to Dewey Point has some steep ups and downs. Dewey Point was named after Admiral George Dewey the only person ever named “Admiral of the Navy”.

We did this as a day trip from Fresno, which made for a long 10-hour day. The first mile is on the groomed snow of Glacier Point Road. Dewey Point can be done as a loop hike combining the more difficult trail #14 and trail #18. We chose to hike trail #18 as an out and back. Trail #14 begins near the top of the first climb before Summit Meadow. Trail #18 begins just past the potties on the other side of Summit Meadow. The initial part of the route is through beautiful meadows and crosses an unnamed creek.

The temperature was moderate but the light was flat, which made for poor photographs of even the view from the point. It was fortunate for us that several pilgrims had preceded us. The trail was packed and evident. This is not an official mapped trail on topographical maps but the route is marked with yellow metal flags and triangles on the trees.

The #18 trail eventually joins the #14 trail before reaching Dewey Point. The trail actually crosses the mapped Pohono Trail (14 miles), which runs along the south rim of the canyon from the Wawona Tunnel to Glacier Point. As we were about to leave the flat meadow area, Josh Helling came flying by on backcountry skis. He is a Yosemite guide, adventurer and cinematographer. I usually see him at the beginning of the annual Nordic Holiday race. I introduced him to my wife and friends. He is the usual winner of the 17K classic on Saturday. Here is a little more about him.

When we arrived, the vista was as wonderful as I remembered it on two previous visits. I used a Sony A7R2 with Sony Zeiss 24-70mm f4 and 16-35mm f4 lenses. The 16-35 lens was probably a bad choice because I was not close enough to the features. Perhaps a 70-200mm lens would have been a better choice. The light was poor and flat but the lunch break had a world-class view. Since this was during the week, we only had a few other folks there.

On the trip back, once we got back to the flatter part of the return trail, we lashed our snowshoes to the back of our daypacks and walked the trail using our trekking poles. It was easier on tired legs with less weight on our boots.
Of course, we had to stop at the Wawona Store for treats on the way back to Fresno, after a 3,500-calorie effort!


 The Ladies By The Beginning Of Trail #14
 It Is So Good To See This Amount Of Snow Again
 Leaving Glacier Point Road

 Half Dome And Cloud's Rest Top And Left Of Center

 El Capitan
 Merced River And Road

 Lunch Break

Map Of Route From Suunto Ambit 2
There is a YouTube version here:   

Friday, January 15, 2016

Balsam Forebay Snow Park

Dale Matson

Click On Photographs To Enlarge

For additional information I have a summer posting on the Balsam Forebay here:

As you head up Highway 168 past Shaver Lake toward Huntington Lake, the first of several snow parks will be on the left. It is about 6,800’ in elevation and generally has less snow than the higher parks at Tamarack and Coyote. It also has a much smaller parking area and is congested on the weekends. A daily or seasonal parking permit is required. There are a number of places in Shaver Lake that sell them. The snow sledding is near the parking and extends down the trail that leads to the Forebay.

It is located in the Sierra National Forest on land owned by Southern California Edison. There is an access road for Edison personnel only. We made a loop of our hike walking out on the road. Edison keeps it plowed to provide access to their building and equipment on the far side of the Forebay.

The lake was frozen over when we arrived on snowshoes. The snow was too crusty and icy for skis. While it is less than a mile from the parking area few folks ever venture this far and it is not practical/possible when the snow accumulates over the course of the winter. We uncovered a picnic table and sat on top for our lunch. The rest of the picnic table was buried in snow.

I looked for the resident Osprey who was not to be found. I brought my heavy 400mm lens just in case but only took a photograph of the empty nest. I imagine if the Osprey is around it is fishing in open water at Shaver Lake. The nest is evident at the top of a tall evergreen. It saw the tracks of a larger animal in the snow at the bottom of the dam but could not determine what they were from up above.

We were by ourselves and the untracked pristine snow on a sunny day was renewing. It is such a pleasure to dial back the pace of life. What a blessing it is to have such beauty and wilderness so close with good access. Thank you Southern California Edison for making this area available to the public.

 Tracks Below Dam

 Not To Be Confused With The Shaver Lake Sasquatch

 Nest Tree With Broken Top

 Pottie Facility At The Forebay 

 Plowed Area On Return Loop
Shaver Lake