YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK—To kick off the New Year, I traveled with a group of friends to Yosemite National Park. As a Southern California native who loves predictably sunny weather, I had reservations about camping, let alone hiking, in snow. Yet, it was the New Year. So why not a new me?

To my delight, these hesitations melted away over the course of my three day trip. Solidifying within me a profound appreciation of Yosemite’s grand size and sublime beauty. Below are three lighthearted and short stories from my experience getting up close with Yosemite National Park.

Snow

Crunch, crunch, crunch. Treading along Valley Loop Trail, the foreign sound of snow beneath boots rang through my ears arriving at its final destination. A SoCal noggin near the brink of disbelief, grinding gears to process the c̶h̶i̶l̶l̶y̶  freezing reality of weather that actually fell below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Brain freeze! But more so numbing beauty. Topping rocks, trees, and everything in between, snow powdered Yosemite Valley like sugar on a cake. Making the feast before my eyes white and sweet. Perhaps this unexpected appreciation for the cold stuff explains my blissful ignorance regarding my boots. Perhaps it was the cold truly getting to my head.

Yosemite Snow Winter Wonderland
Yosemite blanked by snow. A true winter wonderland.

Boots

Boots are amazing. Boots insulate feet. Boots provide traction. Boots fall apart. But not all at once. Returning from Mirror Lake, an odd plop accompanied a now familiar crunching of snow. Behind and rushing to catch up with the rest of my group, I paid the sound no real attention (the reality: it was cold…got to keep moving!). Thankfully, an astute companion noticed I dropped something. Except…my camera and its case still snugly hung from my neck. Confused, I turned around to see my friend examining a dark object. He tossed it my way. A connection was made. A disconnection between boot and sole left me in aid. Without traction on one foot and about two inches shorter to boot!

Mirror Lake Yosemite National Park
Mirror Lake is one of the most beautiful and accessible spots within Yosemite Valley.

Socks

The fuzzier the better. A phrase aptly used when discussing puppies, dogs, blankets, kiwis (what just me?), and of course, socks. Little did I know how important the fuzzy factor would be in saving my feet from frostbite one particular morning. Waking up at 2:30 a.m. to use the restroom is never fun. The timeless inner battle of deciding to leave the comfort of one’s bed against the off chance one falls back asleep only to hurry to the restroom upon awakening. Neither is a pleasant option. Now imagine the same situation but in a four person tent packed with five people, boots wedged in a distant corner, pitch black darkness, and a temperature of 19 degrees Fahrenheit standing in between you and relief. Clearly, two reasonable options arise: get the boots and wake up tent mates in the process or struggle to join the other slumbering souls in an attempt to fall asleep until morning. Fuzzy socks, however, granted me option three: walk through the freezing darkness and snow of Campsite 4 without the fear of frostbite and more importantly wrath of friends awakened. Fuzzy socks, I thank you for all our good nights’ sleep (and the warmth too).

Campsite 4 Yosemite National Park
Campsite 4 in Yosemite Valley

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