The day starts early after shifting 9 hours in time. At 03:30 I’m completely awake and alert. Breakfast has to wait until 07:00 sharp. After a quick bite it’s time to get the necessary supplies: food and drinks for the first couple of days. I buy snow chains as well, as you can get fined severely if you do not have them. Worse even, they can forbid you to continue (or drive back) as long as snow or icy conditions prevail. Most important of all, the car could slip and crash. They cost 100 dollar but to be honest, it actually feels good to have them, as road conditions can be hazardous and are unknown.
Soon after that, I’m on my way to Yosemite National Park. From Oakhurst it takes about 90 minutes via a winding forest road to get into Yosemite Valley. The road is wet in places and as I soon discover, frozen in others. There are warnings about icy spots but for the first hour or so, no difficulties are encountered. Until suddenly, in a sloping curve of the road, the car just goes straight ahead. I manage to keep it on the road by steering into the direction of movement and releasing the throttle immediately. This is scary! Black Ice it’s called. These icy spots can barely to not be distinguished from wet spots and tend to occur in the shade as it’s probably a little bit colder there.
I would have loved to have an early morning Yosemite Valley photo session, but this was not meant to be. I arrive at 09:30 which is not so bad after all. Maybe better even, as these icy spots would definitely have been more frequent and a bit more nasty in the dark. The light is not optimal anymore but surprisingly soft. The first stop is at Tunnel View where I have a nice view on El Capitan and the forest in Yosemite Valley.
Down in the valley there’s a figure eight shaped road and the first stop is at the Swinging Bridge, where fog is hanging over the snow covered surface.
A bit further down the road a high waterfall with rainbow colors in the water vapour.
Around 11:30 the light becomes more harsh and ugly. Perfect time to arrange a room for the night in the Yosemite Lodge and have lunch: bread with honey roasted ham.
Maps, Charts & Downloads
GPS Map with color coded altitude information
Color coded distance/altitude chart
Download the original gpx file here.