Dry Winter Offers Long Hikes for Yosemite Visitors

Eric Weston, Staff Writer

The annual Yosemite trip, sponsored by the educational instructional program Nature Bridge is a five day hiking tour of the Yosemite Valley and its surrounding areas.

Yosemite is normally covered in deep snow in January, but the dry winter has left only traces of ice at the valley floor and one to two feet at higher elevations. These conditions allowed students to travel greater distances and see more of the park.  Senior Will Henrikson said the highlight of the trip was his grueling, eight-hour hike past the top of Yosemite Falls to the Yosemite Point vista: “We ran up this steep, snow-covered hillside and at the top was this gorgeous view of all of Yosemite Valley.”

“My highlight was hiking up the switchback trail, Snowy Creek Trail, across from Half Dome. There was a lot of snow, we had a snowball fight, we ate lunch,” said senior Ryan Kastigar.

Students spent the first three nights at the Yosemite Lodge. Days were occupied exploring the valley and learning about the geologic history of the park. About two to three million years ago, a series of glaciations covered Yosemite and then slowly retreated, leaving the valley open as it is today.

Moving on to Wawona, students spent a day at Badger Pass cross-country skiing. The experience was especially challenging for first-time skiers, but even the more experienced skiers found the transition from alpine skiing to cross-country skiing difficult. “It was really a struggle in the beginning to figure out how to do it, but once I figured it out, it was a lot of fun,” said Kastigar, a first-time skier.

The last full day on the trip was spent at the Mariposa Grove, the largest grove of Giant Sequoias in the park. The grove is home of the famous Grizzly Giant, the world’s 25th largest tree.