Monday 10 March 2014

Yosemite Trip Report: Overnight Snowshoe Hike to Dewey Point

According to SFGate, the 8mi/12.8km round-trip snowshoe from Badger Pass to Dewey Point is the best snowshoe trek in California.  It's easy to see why: the distance makes it achievable in a day and the walking is reasonably easy.  We were looking for a challenging two-night snowshoe trek in Yosemite, but couldn't pass up the views of Dewey so we decided to make it our first leg.  We spent the day XC skiing around Badger Pass on old glacier point road, then set out for Dewey around 3pm.

View from the top of Old Badger Pass Summit, easy XC ski from Badger Pass
We started out with just boot chains on Glacier Point road because the snow was fairly packed.  These (YaxTrax, but there are a number of brands) are a great compliment to snowshoes on any snowy or icy hike.  They are super-light, don't take up any room, give you great grip, and are much easier to walk in than snowshoes when the snow is hard-packed.  Some people made it all the way to Dewey just with these, but we could see they struggled at the other end by the deep post-holes they left in the snow.

While we're on gear...I wore my waterproof trail runners and a set of short OR gaiters.  The trail runners were great, and did a good job of keeping water out.  If I was choosing again I would take my full size gaiters: keeping the snow out of your shoes is essential for staying dry and the snowshoes kick up a lot when you are in deep soft snow.  These little gaiters occasionally let in small amounts of snow from the sides.

There's two ways to get to Dewey, we went out by Dewey Point Ridge and came back along Dewey Point Meadow.  The ridge is harder (more climbing) and gives you some views, but nothing like what you get from the point.  I don't think you're missing much if you take the Meadow both directions.

View from Dewey Point Ridge

Waterfall from the junction with the Meadows trail

We arrived at Dewey at 5:40pm, so 2 hrs 40 mins of hiking with plenty of photo stops and a couple of gear stops.

The views from Dewey Point are immense, fantastic, epic.  The best part of doing this as an overnight was that we had it completely to ourselves at sunset on a Friday night.  Bathing in El Capitan's reflected glow at sunset is well-worth the extra effort to lug a tent and sleeping gear out there.

Looking East down the valley towards the Wawona tunnel

El Capitan

Left to right: El Capitan, North Dome, Cathedral Rocks, Clouds Rest, Half Dome (side profile)

The view from 10m in front of our tent

Around 9am the next morning the first set of day-hikers made it out to the point.  On the return trip through the meadows we probably met 30+ people day hiking, but not a single one doing an overnighter.  We set out around 10:45am and were back at Glacier Point Rd. by 12:20pm so the meadow trail was a fair bit quicker, especially since we took the snowshoes off and walked with boot chains for the last couple of kms.

Piss-coloured pools near Dewey Point Meadow: tree sap maybe?

Dewey Point Meadow

Weekend crowds of people on Glacier Point Rd.
Next up: the real challenge begins as we continue on to Ostrander Lake.

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