We're back! After a brief hiatus it's time to revive the blog. Plenty of recent adventures clogging up the back-burner and waiting for publishing, stayed tuned.
In early February Nika and I rolled into the Berkley Sports Basement parking lot late Friday night. This winter has seen almost weekly storms, plastering the high country with tons of snow and less-than-ideal weather. Various late night adventure-googling had encouraged me that it would be a rad idea to try our hand at cross-country skiing out to Glacier Point and back in a day, a mere 21 miles. Of course neither of us had ever cross-country skied and I had put on skis once in the past 20 years. Perfect recipe for adventure!
As we've done so many times before we set off towards Yosemite, driving into the night, trading music and stories and dating adventures and dating mishaps and all sorts of other life catch up. Pulling off on one of our favorite bivy roads (sidenote: checkout freecamping for options!) around midnight we were dismayed to find all the best spots covered in snow. No worries, we nestled the car off to the side and tucked in for the night. Nika set up her rig inside and lay down my bag outside next to the car, luckily the storm/rain was over for that day and I had a cold but clear night ahead.
Or so I thought! Halfway through the night I awoke to rain drops on my face, not a good sign. I wormed my (down!) bag closer to the car to minimize the exposure and prayed I wouldn't have to get up and and wake Nika to get inside too, probably wet as a dog at that point. Luckily the rain abated and the rest of the night was uneventful. (I owe the rain gods huge on that one!)
A groggy wake up was eased by new hotel construction nearby which meant hot coffee, delicious breakfast burritos, and most importantly warm indoor bathrooms. After that we bombed into the Valley and up towards Badger Pass (but not without me pestering Nika to stop every 5 minutes for photos).
Neither of us had been to Badger Pass (probably renamed to something silly and less interesting now) and it was really cool to checkout a ski resort right in the heart of one of our favorite places. Yosemite in winter really is a hidden gem, free from crowds and maybe even more beautiful.
Fiddling with the skis was initially unnerving, a slight downhill section to start revealed 1) these were not like regular skis 2) neither of us was experienced with skis and 3) this was going to be potentially much harder than expected. I immediately reset expectations: we likely wouldn't make it all the way out but we'd go as far as comfortable and then turn around and call it a day.
Neither of us had any idea what we were in for, and in the first mile we realized quickly this was going to be a special trip. The recent storm had dumped fresh snow everywhere, turning it into one of the most magical sights. Winter left an absolute stillness to the air, everything was silent except the slosh of our skis, and for the most part we were on our own. We marveled at the sights around every corner and we quickly dropped layers and skied on.
The next miles went quickly as we started getting into our groove, and soon we found the joy of skiing long downhill sections safely locked into the tracks. After a few miles we stopped to evaluate progress, and things didn't look good. Nika had acquired nasty blisters, we had no idea how far we'd gone but it didn't seem far enough, and the prospect of 21 miles was daunting.
Undeterred, we rallied forth. Nika is consitently one of the best adventure partners out there, always down for something crazy and with the grit to get it done. We had no mole skin or duct tape, and I found about 2 square inches of climbing tape on something that she used to patch up and move on. "It's fine, I'm fine, let's go!" there was no question.
Soon our initial fears melted away, round a corner and what glorious sight did appear? Why nothing but Half Dome, which meant surely we were near! Besides offering the first spectacular photo opp, we now knew where we were and that we were making good time.
With newfound vigor we cranked out the last few miles of the initial 10.5, which proved to mostly downhill and went fast, but not without their own mishaps. Cross country skis like these have no edges, and so turning is really out of the question. Without tracks (as most of those last miles were) it takes an odd combination of body positioning and weight distribution to get it right. Suffice to say, mistakes were made and spills happened. All worth it though, because around every corner was another spectacular view, getting better each time.
We had a pretty uneventful arrival at the hut, joining the group ahead of us for lunch (and being pretty jealous of everything they had which included a bottle of hot sauce to spice up their wraps!). Wary of time and way back, we didn't dilly dally and scarfed lunch, relaxed a bit, whined about how we'd left the beer back in the car (to encourage us on the way back) and quickly made packed up for the return trip (another 10.5 miles back). But not without one last cheesey photo opp!