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Camping and hiking in Jan

Travelling to and visiting Yosemite National Park in Winter and most of Spring, when snow is on the ground. Includes visiting in winter, snow play, downhill and nordic skiing, ice skating, snowshoeing, and snow camping.

Moderators: Wickett, dan

Camping and hiking in Jan

Postby bchboy147 » Fri Jan 02, 2009 1:51 pm

My girlfriend and I are planning to do some camping and hiking in mid January. I read some posts already saying that Camp 4 is a good spot to camp because it gets sun for some of the day compared to the others that are mostly shaded.

*Any recommendations on campgrounds during winter?

We both have zero degree bags and plenty of warm clothing, but I am concerned about staying warm on the ground when sleeping.

*We both have thermarest pads but is that enough?

Also, we plan on doing some hiking around the valley. We have waterproof hiking shoes but no snowshoes.

*Are there trails during winter that don't require snowshoeing?

Any help is greatly appreciated.

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Joined: Fri Jan 02, 2009 1:24 pm

Re: Camping and hiking in Jan

Postby dan » Fri Jan 02, 2009 7:46 pm

I've camped in Camp 4 several times in Winter. It's by far the best (warmest) in the Valley. Outside the valley, Wawona Campground is warmer. Hodgdon Meadow Campground is higher and colder. One of the Pines Campgrounds is left open in the Winter, but it's definitely colder.

I've had no problems staying warm in the tent. The lows in Winter are usually around 20-30F. It's getting up in the morning and cooking that's a problem. Being lazy, I usually eat at the food court.

Year-round showers are available at Curry Village for a couple bucks to non-guests (if there's someone there dispensing towels--otherwise it's free).

You definitely need good waterproof boots. The ones with plastic or rubber uppers are best. Bring plenty of dry socks. Snowshoes work in fresh snow and out in the meadows, but the Valley snow is often consolidated and not that useful, especially out on trails and unplowed roads. Last year, I walked without snowshoes with someone and he was slower.

I recommend the northside Valley trail and the Vernal and Nevada Falls trail. The Mist Trail portion is closed in winter due to ice fall danger, but the John Muir Trail/horse trail portion is open.

If you're adventurous, I recommend hiking up the Yosemite Falls Trail. It starts from just east of Camp 4 and heads to the top of the Upper Yosemite Falls. Terrific views along the way! The snows not too bad until you get to the Valley Rim, 3000' or so above. It's an all day trip.

I also recommedn a short hike from Camp 4 to Horsetail Falls--just east of El Cap. In the evening around sunset in winter the fall gets a beautiful glow--like a firefall. The best time is mid-February to end of February *IF* the sky is clear and the sun is visible around sunset. Google it for more information.

Snowshoe walks are available at Badger Pass. There's a free skiers shuttle to Badger Pass from Yosemite Valley. You don't need to be a skier or have a lift ticket. There's a ranger walk around 11am more or less, and they rent show shoes. Or if you have your own, you can also head off to places such as Dewey Point (for a great valley view).
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