January 14, 2017 · Yosemite National Park
Check out the route in detail on AllTrails.
We headed to Yosemite Valley early on Saturday to secure spots at the Snow Creek Cabin. Unfortunately, the cabin was booked for the first night, and only had 4 spots for the second night. We grabbed the 4 spots for the second night and a free winter backcountry camping permit.
The Scouts prepped their gear in the parking lot outside of the large grocery store, and then drove to The Stables (the closest parking to the trailhead). We were on the trail around 12:30pm, heading along the valley floor on hard-packed snow and icy asphalt.
Spirits were high and the weather was clear. It was cold, but the hiking and our heavy backpacks kept us warm. We were soon at the junction where we start ascending the valley wall, up a couple thousand feet.
The Scouts split into two groups, and some headed up faster than the rest, as they wanted to find a camping spot before night fall.
We got to the top of the valley wall around 5:30, and strapped on our snow shoes for a final 20 minute flat-ish hike on a well packed snowy trail.
After finding a good spot to camp a little off the trail, we packed down areas for our tents, built a snow table, and started cooking dinner and hot drinks.
The Scouts were tucked in their sleeping bags in a winter wonderland by 9:30pm.
We woke up with the sun around 7am, had an oatmeal breakfast with coffee, and packed up our gear. Today we would hike the rest of the trail and find the Snow Creek Cabin.
There were a few tricky gullies to cross, but the scouts handled them like champs. We crossed paths with the group of backpackers who stayed at the cabin the previous night, and they said they had to do some intense digging to remove all the snow from the entry and chimney area. We thanked them for their hard work and looked forward to having a warm place for the night.
We arrived at the cabin around 3:30pm, but weren't able to get in because the door was locked. I had forgotten to ask the ranger for the code when I picked up the permit. Luckily the 2 other people who were staying at the cabin that night arrived after about 40 minutes of us trying to problem solve.
We dragged our gear inside, got to to know the other backpackers, and also dug out the outhouse.
The cabin was great, and definitely had enough room for the entire group. We cooked a delicious couscous dinner, hung out for a bit, and then hit the hay.
Jing and I woke up at 5am to summit a nearby mountain that the other backpackers had told us about. It was a quick 50 minute hike up a snow slope in the dark. The sky was clear and the moon produced a lot of light. We arrived at the windy top and quickly turned around to escape the wind.
We joined the rest of the Scouts in the cabin and had breakfast burritos and packed up our gear. After cleaning up and following the checkout instructions, we strapped our snowshoes back on and started our long descent.
The day, again, was beautiful with clear skies and lots of sun. We applied sunscreen every time we rested, and I think we still got burnt.
We slowly descended the switchbacks, and then slogged along the valley floor back to our cars. We had successfully completed the first winter Dece Scouts.