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Sequoia Snowshoeing, Jan 25-27, 2008

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009 by

Just messing around for a bit. Outside is big! Yellow speck in the middle is Erin

Ever since I had gone snowshoeing on a Tahoe trip, I had wanted to do it again. While we do get snow down here in Southern California, it just isn’t all that much, and it’s precious and fleeting. And also, I don’t own snow shoes 🙂 But I wanted to get both a chance to try out some winter camping with a chance to go snowshoeing, so I took a weekend , Jan 25-27, 2008 to go up to Sequoia National Park with Erin and Gretchen. We spent the first night at Potwisha campground, the second at Lodgepole, and snowshoed the Tokopah Falls Trail from Lodgepole while we were there.

We drove up on Friday the 25th. It was pretty uneventful all around. We got to the southern entrance to the park, and very shortly got to Potwisha campground. I think there were 0 or maybe 1 other group staying there, so that was pretty cool. There was some damp on the grass, so it had obviously rained that day or the day before, but there was no snow, since it was at too low an elevation for that. It was actually a pretty nice location, it might be fun to go up there again in the winter for some snow-free camping but easy access to the higher areas.

early morning at our potwisha campsite. very pleasant looking!

The next morning we headed up to higher ground and headed to Lodgepole. Now, even though Lodgepole is “open” in the winter, what that means is that they dig out a large chunk of the parking lot, keep the bathroom open, and very little else. But that’s ok – you have to park somewhere! A group of guys were just packing up and leaving when we got there, so we were able to pitch our tent in the nicely scooped out and flattened area they had just vacated. They had even dug a large fire pit, but we didn’t end up using that.

our tent in its happy place

After getting set up, we went along on our merry way. I have done the Tokopah Falls trail a coupletimes before, but never in winter. Suddenly 3.5 miles or so becomes a bit more of a daunting journey! However, I knew where the trailhead was, and we could still see the sign when we got to it. Other people had been on the route before, on both snowshoes and skis, so the path was always pretty clear. Also, you’re walking up a canyon, so it’s hard to get *too* lost, but it’s nice to at least have your trail broken for you.

I’ve driven over this bridge in the summer. Not so much in January

The trail wound along the river, through the woods, etc (although no grandmother’s house was to be seen). It was actually kind of warm, definitely above freezing, so we kept hearing noises from snow falling off of the trees…and being annoyed when clumps of it would fall directly onto us. Oh well, such are the travails of the outside traveller. We tried to rescue a tree from the bent over icy grasp of heavy snow, but it was already bent into shape, alas.

erin choosing to make an angel

Other than the dripping snow, the forest was very pleasantly quiet, in the way that only snow muffling can bring. We saw very few other people. It was kind of nice to feel like we were really out somewhere – which I guess in some ways we were, but we were never really that far from our car. But it was really beautiful; a gorgeous day to be out. And snowshoeing is just something I really enjoy. Step step step..violent kick to get all the snow off your foot…step step step, etc.

me and gretchen on another little bridge. Man, I love my gaiters

We got to the end of the canyon, and to no one’s surprise, there was no water in the waterfall. We took cover under a huge rock for a while and had a snack, but when not moving, the “not so cold” didn’t feel all that warm, to be honest. And the sun sets much earlier in the winter, and you get even less direct light when you are in a canyon. So we headed back towards our campsite.

After leaving a bunch of our stuff, we went up towards Wuksachi Lodge, where we attended a ranger talk and had dinner, and then chatted with Joe and some people a little bit, who were also up there for the weekend, though they were staying at the lodge itself.

The “it is cold and dark and there is nowhere to sit” after 5 PM thing though is definitely something I didn’t love about this and the other winter camping thing I did. I don’t think I would be adverse to some winter backpacking, where you’d be doing much more physically during the days, but I think for day activities style winter stuff, I am more inclined towards something with light and dry. I don’t think it necessarily has to be crazy nice, but just somewhere you could sit and actually talk with people after 5.30 PM. Ah well, we live and we learn.

The next day we had originally been planning to do a bit more snowshoeing, but during the night there had been a sort of rain/ice storm, and we were just kind of ready to mostly pack up. So we did! We didn’t leave the park immediately though, we did stop for a little bit in the Giant Forest to walk around the paved zones and take a gander at the General Sherman Tree. Which is, in fact, massive. They also have many other massive trees. Sequoias get large!

Base of the General Sherman. The black thing at the bottom right is a child.

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