This post is way overdue (I've even written a post since then), but I spent my 30th birthday snow camping in Yosemite. It was ten and a half miles on snowshoes to the first campsite (Washburn Point); it was one of the worst nights of my life due to poor planning on my part. The next day I went six miles back due to inclement weather; there was the possibility of a large storm, and I wanted to be able to get back to Badger Pass quickly if needed. It did start snowing quite a bit the next morning, but it was manageable.

I'll never tire of gazing upon these old giants:

To get to Yosemite, I took an Amtrak train from Emeryville to Merced. From there, I had to take a bus to Yosemite itself. I booked a reservation at the Yosemite Lodge (it was my birthday, figured I should stay somewhere at least halfway nice) for the night of the 17th, and took the shuttle up to Badger Pass the next day. The night before, I laid out all my gear, and started to wonder if I hadn't overpacked (I had).

This being my first solo backpacking trip in the snow, I erred on the side of caution, which unfortunately was not on the side of my back.

The trek out ended up being longer than I thought it would be. At the last minute, I picked up some trekking poles from the store, and those turned out to be a lifesaver. Maybe not literally, but they did help out a lot.

I didn't take too many pictures on the trip out because this was basically the same trip I cross-country skied last year. I did take a few, though.

As I mentioned earlier, I made a lot of mistakes getting out to Washburn Point, and that night was pretty miserable.

  1. I underestimated how long it would take on snowshoes to get there, or how
    tiring going 10.5 miles in the snow with a 60lb pack would be. I did it in about six hours, not including the hour break for lunch.

  2. I hadn't set up my tent before heading out, so I had a pretty difficult time
    getting it set up while exhausted and cold and with the sun going down.

  3. I was so tired at the end of the day, I just hopped into my sleeping bag
    without taking off my wet undershirt (rookie move). I woke up in what I'm pretty sure was the early stages of hypothermia twice before I finally got out of it.

  4. I didn't really organise my gear well inside the tent, and I didn't do a good
    enough job of keeping my boots from freezing.

The next morning, the sun came up and I eagerly anticipated the sunlight. It took an hour after sun up (where sun up is where the sun was directly shining on my campsite) to thaw out. Here's a picture; my phone died due to the cold shortly afterwards, though warming up the battery brought it back to life:

I stupidly left some water in my Windburner which froze in the -8°C/17°F night temperatures.

I did a decent job of journaling the whole journey.

Did I mention it was cold?

This trip may have been the only time in my life I've ever taken a selfie, and I took two of them.

I grabbed a second thermal insulating pad (the Klymit insulated Static V), and I'm convinced that made a huge comfort difference.

Going only six miles the next day meant I had all the time in the world to eat lunch and take a break. Note that the camping chair I grabbed, while remarkably lightweight and compact, doesn't work so well in the snow.

I had my tent set up and my gear somewhat unpacked by late afternoon. This
is a surprisingly large tent for how small it packs; it packs smaller and lighter than my single-person tent. For backpacking trips now, I mostly use the Direkt 2. Compared to the Solitaire, it's quite spacious.

The inside of the tent was unsurprisingly coated in frost in the morning. This picture somehow made it to the VSCO selects; it remains one of my favourite pictures I've ever taken.

After two nights, I headed back on the 27th (my actual birthday).

I took some more time the next morning to take some photos in the wee snow storm.

It turns out Badger Pass has been renamed the "Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area." It'll always be Badger Pass to me.

I went for a nice dinner with an amazing view and an whiskey Old Fashioned to celebrate. The picture doesn't really do the view justice, though.

I finished writing up the trip in my journal before calling it a night.

On the way in and out, I used my day pack (that during the trip I stuffed into a side pouch in my pack) to store my Nikon DSLR and snowshoes.

The trip didn't work out quite like I wanted. It took so long to get out to Washburn Point that I wasn't able to hike out to Sentinel Dome hike to watch the sunset like I wanted, but I did learn a lot and it was overall a great way to spend my 30th.