Snowshoeing Dewey Point to/from Glacier Point?

Discussion about winter adventure sports in the Sierra Nevada mountains including but not limited to; winter backpacking and camping, mountaineering, downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, etc.
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kozz
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Snowshoeing Dewey Point to/from Glacier Point?

Post by kozz » Sun Jan 27, 2019 1:31 pm

Hello!

Longtime lurker here, and I've benefitted a great deal even from searching and reading the posts on this board thus far! I'm planning a 3-day snowshoe trek to Yosemite over President's Day weekend, and I was considering whether a loop from Badger Pass to Glacier Point to Dewey Point would be possible/advisable? I have decent navigation skills, but I'm relatively inexperienced with snowshoes. We'll be backpacking, rather than pulling sleds, etc., and the groomed GP Road definitely seems attractive given the experience level.

I looked into reservations for both the Ostrander and GP huts, but there's no availability due to the holiday.

Thoughts? Advice? Words of warning/wisdom?

Thanks in advance!

Steve








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Re: Snowshoeing Dewey Point to/from Glacier Point?

Post by AlmostThere » Sun Jan 27, 2019 3:33 pm

A loop is possible, yes. The problem section that comes to mind would be the crossing of Bridalveil creek. If you can stick to the trail to the bridge and cross on the bridge, you'll be fine. I am uncertain as to whether that trail is flagged for snowshoeing, however. Snow routes can be different than summertime trail routes.

Otherwise, if the weather is not gnarly, that area is a good one for winter camping newbies. You can't have fires and should store food in bear cans, as bears in Yosemite are often active throughout winter. Not that they really hibernate - more that they take long naps, and get up to leave tracks in the snow once in a while.

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Re: Snowshoeing Dewey Point to/from Glacier Point?

Post by bobby49 » Sun Jan 27, 2019 5:18 pm

AlmostThere wrote:
Sun Jan 27, 2019 3:33 pm
A loop is possible, yes. The problem section that comes to mind would be the crossing of Bridalveil creek. If you can stick to the trail to the bridge and cross on the bridge, you'll be fine. I am uncertain as to whether that trail is flagged for snowshoeing, however. Snow routes can be different than summertime trail routes.

Otherwise, if the weather is not gnarly, that area is a good one for winter camping newbies. You can't have fires and should store food in bear cans, as bears in Yosemite are often active throughout winter. Not that they really hibernate - more that they take long naps, and get up to leave tracks in the snow once in a while.
Good advice. I led a beginner snowcamping trip one time forty years ago (so I must have been a tiny child). We camped north of the Bridalveil Creek bridge. Yes, the road is a good avenue for going back and forth since you won't get lost. In case bad weather hits, you can escape quickly on the road.

People do camp on the hill behind Dewey Point. One year we went that way and then turned east to follow the trail along the south rim. When we got to Bridalveil Creek, we were halted by the water flow. So, we turned south, got out to the road, and then escaped back to Badger Pass. We did not have any bear tracks, but there were plenty of coyote tracks.

When you get around Taft Point, the gullies get pretty deep, so following a trail gets interesting.

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Re: Snowshoeing Dewey Point to/from Glacier Point?

Post by Harlen » Sun Jan 27, 2019 10:45 pm

Welcome to HST Steve, and thanks for the post. This got me thinking about Black bear hibernation/deep restful state, or however it is properly termed. The text below comes from the Cal. Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, and contains some interesting points.
Once a black bear begins hibernating, it can doze for many months with a body temperature of 88°F or higher, which is within 12°F of summer body temperature levels. By contrast, the body temperature of smaller hibernators such as marmots, chipmunks, and ground squirrels may drop below 40°F. These smaller creatures are known as the "true hibernators" while bear inactivity has been termed "seasonal lethargy." For simplicity, we will refer to the inactivity of bears during the winter as hibernation.

Bears can go on slumbering because their warm pelts, lower tendency to lose heat, and large body mass allow them to better retain body heat. This, in turn, enables them to cut their metabolic rate in half. Black bears keep their heads and torsos warm enough during hibernation that they can wake if disturbed, although they require a few minutes to awaken.

During hibernation, black bears live off their own fat, their cholesterol levels are more than twice what they are in summer (more than twice as high as most people). But bears show no signs of hardening of the arteries or the formation of cholesterol gallstones. Research has shown that hibernating bears generate a form of bile acid that, when administered to people, dissolves gallstones, eliminating the need for surgery. Weight loss during hibernation is extreme. Male black bears will typically drop between 15 and 30 percent of their body weight, while reproductive sows can lose up to 40 percent. Despite this grave weight loss, over 90 percent of black bears survive the winter.

Bears appear to maintain their muscle mass and tone during the three to four month hibernation period. Even though they are meeting all their energy requirements by metabolizing fats, they do not lose muscle in the process. They seem to be able to use urea (a nitrogen-rich waste product in the blood) to make new protein. For humanity, unlocking this biochemical mystery would greatly assist with dieting and long term fasting to lose weight.

Another fascinating physiological adaptation bears have is the ability to re-build bones during hibernation. Bears regenerate and repair bones by a mysterious mechanism that researches hope may someday help give us a cure for degenerative arthritis and other bone diseases.
Best of luck along the Badger Ridge Steve. We recommend that that you carefully check out the long view down from around Taft Point- it takes your breath away! Also, if you can arrive at Dewey Point in the late afternoon you will have a brilliant view of El Capitan. If it's really crowded, you guys can get off the road, and take the "Old Glacier Point Road Trail instead; it begins at the ski area and parallels the road. But you guys are putting in a lot of miles already! Have a great time, Ian and Lizzie.

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Re: Snowshoeing Dewey Point to/from Glacier Point?

Post by bobby49 » Sun Jan 27, 2019 11:50 pm

"Old Glacier Point Road Trail" used to be fun. The annual Yosemite Nordic Ski Race used to start at the bottom of the hill of Badger Pass, then head out east along that trail until the south side of Summit Meadow. Then it would head through Summit Meadow to the Glacier Point Road. The old road/trail then developed a lot of downed trees as obstacles. In light snow conditions, those obstacles were awful.

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Re: Snowshoeing Dewey Point to/from Glacier Point?

Post by kozz » Mon Jan 28, 2019 9:14 am

Thanks to everybody for the feedback and insights (as well as the welcome to the community)!

My rough plans have been as follows:
  • Day 1 - Hike/snowshoe along GP Road to GP. Find a decent campsite with/near views (perhaps on/near Sentinel Dome).
  • Day 2 - Backtrack GP Road to the Taft Point trail, follow it to/near Taft then follow the rim carefully (loose definition here) westward to Dewey.
  • Day 3 - Follow either the Ridge or Meadow trail back to the road and parking.
Based on the feedback, that Day 2 route seems the most fraught with risk. Looking at the topo it seems like veering southward by about a quarter mile might remove a lot of the steeper side-hilling. Still tough work to break trail and navigate, but possibly less steep overall.

We are already planning to use bear cans, given proximity to the valley and the ski area, and the failsafe plan for water is compact and melt snow (though the comment about camping near Bridalveil Creek makes me wonder about possibly looking for sites near running water). We'll be carrying insulated silos for extra water regardless, as well as extra fuel (planning white gas stoves).

Worst-case scenario is we give Day 2 a shot with a hard turnaround time, and if we're not making progress (cross-checked against GPS tracks and map/compass reads) we head back to the road. I'll also have a satellite messenger and plenty of backup batteries.

Thanks again!

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Re: Snowshoeing Dewey Point to/from Glacier Point?

Post by AlmostThere » Tue Jan 29, 2019 7:46 am

Be mindful that snowshoeing is harder than hiking. I always cut mileage in half when snowshoes are on my feet. With a backpack it will be more strenuous yet. That looks like a strenuous itinerary. Getting all the way to GP in one day usually requires skis.

Getting safely to the creek for water, I would not count on that either. With lots of snow and ice that is a treacherous undertaking.

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Re: Snowshoeing Dewey Point to/from Glacier Point?

Post by bobby49 » Tue Jan 29, 2019 1:00 pm

My old rule of thumb is that a person can hike only half the distance on snowshoes as is possible on boots on dry ground. Also, a person can cover about twice the distance on cross country skis as is possible on boots on dry ground.

Skiing out to Glacier Point in a few hours is not difficult as long as Badger Pass is departed very early while the snow is still cold and hard. The snow gets progressively slower through the day, and that is OK only in the afternoon when heading back uphill to Badger Pass.

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Re: Snowshoeing Dewey Point to/from Glacier Point?

Post by kozz » Tue Jan 29, 2019 2:45 pm

Thanks for the guidance re: speed of progress on snowshoes. My thinking (hope, actually) was that travel on the road would tend to be faster since it's groomed and more frequently-traveled (perhaps even passable in boots or with microspikes only). The second and third days would target shorter distances (and stricter, more aggressive navigation thresholds) to accommodate the slower and more difficult progress.

Is that reasonable? Or should I plan to shorten that first day now and perhaps stick to something like Bridalveil campground?

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Re: Snowshoeing Dewey Point to/from Glacier Point?

Post by kozz » Tue Jan 29, 2019 2:46 pm

I should also say that we're heading up a day early and camping in Upper Pines so that we can get as early a start from Badger Pass as possible on that first day.

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