Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Each year I try for at least one weekend skiing. My annual trek is to Yosemite National Park where I can avert the crowds and ski in a mellow environment. Traditionally, it's an adult trip but times are a changing. This year we had a car full of kids and visiting Yosemite will never be the same.

For those who don't know, the ski season was a bust in California. Unlike the East Coast, where we heard news reports about snowstorms weekly, California’s rainfall is below level and this means poor ski conditions. Last weekend when we arrived in Yosemite it felt and looked like spring. Driving into the North Gate of Yosemite on Hwy 120 nary a flake of snow or clump of ice was found. At Crane Flats there was some snow/ice but the conditioning didn't look too inviting for skiing.

We stayed on the valley floor at Camp Curry (pic on left) in the Stoneman Lodge. The Lodge is a collection of simple rooms located near shuttle / bus stops, the outdoor ice-skating rink, and a few concessionaires. It's a good location for those with little children. The rooms are pleasant, TV free and clean but a little pricey, the best deal is to reserve the loft room. With an upstairs bedroom it gives the kids a place a play in the evening and a hiding place for an adult looking peace when the action is downstairs

Saturday, we took the bus to Badger Pass where Yosemite’s skiing facilities are located. The bus is a service that is provided from the valley floor free or charge; it’s very comfortable and convenience especially when snow chains are required for driving the parks roads.

We played with the kids in weather that deserved shorts rather than ski gear.At Badger Pass you can’t bring your own tube in their designated tubing area and you pay hourly for tubing, they provide the gear. There was plenty of snow for down hillers and tubing but the crowds were sparse as the snow was old. While not hanging out with the kids I relaxed at one of the several picnic tables available for Badger Pass guest at the lodge. Protecting our snacks, listening to a musician and watching the down hillers kicking back was sweet.

After tubing and snow play we ventured back down to the valley floor and walked to Ansel Adams gallery for a children storytelling program and afterward to the lower Yosemite falls which looked majestic Saturday evening with blowing mist and water flowing with primal strength. It was a very pleasant day; my only complaint was the ice skating rink was closed, which was very disappointing. It only seems fair that the rink would stay open as long as Badger Pass is open for skiing especially considering the cost of lodging. Fortunately all the walking and snow play had worn out the kiddies but there was still disappointment.

Sunday, was another beautiful day, we hiked to Mirror Lake a good choice for small children and strollers. At the Lower-Pines Campground trail head we were greeted by a small herd of deer and other wildlife. It’s a three-mile round trip, very flat and the trail parallels the Merced River and provided some scenic spots with mini-waterfalls.

At the lower lake there is a beachhead that's perfect for picnics. The kids had a chance to play a bit in the water at a very scenic spot. We stayed at Yosemite until the evening and headed back the Bay Area. We’re planning next year trip and hoping for snow in the mountains and spring on the valley floor.


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