Any winter at Yosemite has snow. But the tiny sparkly glitter vying for your attention from the white blanket as you ski through a sunny meadow is the best that it gets. For all the stunning views you can get around this park in winter you still appreciate the true mountain meadow framed in hefty lodgepole pines and a cloudless cerulean blue sky the most. Surely it doesn’t hurt that the stunning silence interspersed with your heartbeat in your ears while looking about during the pause. It is all thrilling to embrace.
You can play at different venues nature has made available to you. Some have cool man-made perks to round it off. Let’s talk Badger Pass first. This old small ski resort is an oddity. Really not up to super wonderful mega resort standards or price, this place is still a little gem. Sure a fast pro downhill skier could get down that slope in a matter of seconds. Who cares? This place is made for the those who absorb rather than gulp.
I like bringing along someone who is need a new adventure, be it child or adult, to learn the basics in the universe of snowsport. An excellent place to learn and to goof off. Build your own jump before the staff makes a big one or find a tree zone with powder only you can get through. After you, of course, have thoroughly upset your pupil at the lift tops before he heads off to a more considerate and professional ski class offered much nearer the lodge. Don’t forget the extra refreshing beer stop somewhere in the day at the Snowflake Lounge.
For those adventurists who plan well you must look up Ostrander Hut, Dewey Point and Glacier Point Ski Hut starting at Badger Pass. All of these are worth the time and effort that will be extracted from you! Ostrander Hut has that winter hostel warmth, chatter and cosiness that make the eves and funs as the ski days. My best memories is a hilarious themed charades game we played once. After summiting the squat Horse Ridge you can see the stunning Mt Starr King and Clark Range in the High Sierra before you ski back down to the hut. When the lake outside the hut is frozen, circuit it in your skis during a pink and purple sunset or bring your skates if there has been little snow.
Dewey is a snowshoe destination from the Badger parking lot done in a day starting at dawn. We have taken many tours there to the narrow but spectacular winter Yosemite Valley view point. Everyone roundly comments upon the cool meadows we pass through near the beginning, grumbles under the heavy breath about a half mile from the point, ogles with joy and exuberance upon arrival, find new and imaginative words about their guides the last grueling mile back and then; showers us with accolades and beer upon our return to the Bug. We smile and laugh throughout. After all, if they just knew how to use touring XC skis, it would be half the time; but would you stop to see if the tracks are from Pine Martin, Deer Mice, Chickaree or White-tailed Jackrabbit?
Glacier Point Ski Hut is at the end of the 10.5 mile snow covered & groomed road from Badger. This trip on track skis or fun skate skis is exhilarating! Upon arrival at the hostel style ski hut, take your time with exceptional company that night, and track about the starry sky with cocoa in your hands. The stunning winter views of Half Dome and environs make the summer views seem cheap and unworthy of your heart.
The reason the Bug rents snowshoes is really for the Groves. Tuolumne Grove is the easiest on an old gradient road. For those inclined and do not get lost, go off trail downslope and stay above the creek until you wander into orange and green monsters in full contrast to the white powdery blanket. Merced Grove is half as much longer and steeper in part. But the peace and quiet with the nifty log cabin nestled under the big trees that draws you to investigate are worth the trip. For those who need something new, try the Rockefeller Grove of old sugar pines a bit further down the road.
In the Valley just after a heavy winter storm, yes, you can ski about the meadows and take the best pictures of your long life. In absence of that, however, the Curry Ice Rink is makes happiness several times a day. Where else can you skate under a Half and North Dome painted red with sunset! Take a break with coffee next to the fire pit and push yourself out for more happiness under the stars in a twirl.
Lastly and sadly, are the winter adventures I have not yet done. Years of stories about an old ski hut above Snow Creek, used commercially in the 20’s, squatted by hippies in the 70’s , boarded and locked up for years, this old place holds my imagination as a cross between Hansel & Gretel’s Gingerbread Witch Cabin and Sound of Music Meadow on Fungi. I ran into a friend who invited me up to the place midweek to ensure a spot to crash using skis and snowshoes. If this part is NOT updated by next February, you will know to join Yosemite Winter Club and do the Trans-Sierra Ski Trip which uses this cabin enroute from Tuolumne Meadows to find out what happened to me!