Having been defeated by snow conditions the previous year, we were back in Yosemite to attempt a summit of Clouds Rest in the snow. The goal once again, was to loop the valley starting at Happy Isles trailhead and climbing up-and-over Clouds Rest on our way to Tenaya Lake, returning via Tioga Pass and the Snow Creek trail to complete the loop.
Day 1: Happy Isles to JMT Cutoff (March 27, 2013)
This winter had been warmer and dryer than the previous. This was evident as we made our way up the Mist trail towards Little Yosemite Valley (LYV). Most years, this trail is still closed in March due to icy trail conditions. Not a problem this year.
Using the Mist trail cut about 1.5 miles off the distance to LYV where we had camped the year before. This year however, we continued a short ways past to where the John Muir Trail split from the Clouds Rest summit trail.
We made camp near this junction. The ground was mostly free of snow, and there was a stream flowing nearby for water. It was about 4:30PM as we made camp and it began to rain.
The next day we would be attempting the summit of Clouds Rest!
Day 2: Clouds Rest Summit Day (March 28, 2013)
The morning was cool, and the tents damp from the nights rain. We didn’t waste much time breaking down camp as we wanted to give ourselves plenty of time to summit Clouds Rest.
We hit the trail at 9:00AM. The sky was partly cloudy. It wasn’t until after the main switchbacks that we needed to put on snowshoes (The previous year we were in snowshoes starting from LYV).
The condition of the snow was very good as we worked our way towards the summit. The weather was on our side as we made the final steep push that had turned us back the year before. Where there had been a sheet of ice, there was now dry steps leading us to the summit.
We made it!
On the summit just after noon, we could see for miles. The sun was out, but dark clouds were hanging in the distance.
With another summit under our belts, we turned our attention to getting down before more weather moved in. We made our way off the other side of the summit, down the knife edge.
From the summit, we made our way into the neighboring valley for camp. The valley was deep with snow, and it took some time to build a sturdy platform for the tent. We were once again camping near a stream, though this one was buried under about 4 feet of snow.
The clouds moved in for night two of weather and it began snowing. As daylight faded, large, heavy snow flakes began falling and we retreated to the tents.
It had been a long day of snowshoeing, but the satisfaction of completing the summit was immense! The next day we would be making our way to Tenaya lake then onward to Snow Creek Cabin.
Continue with the second half of this trip HERE!
Check out more photos on Flickr!