Vernal and Nevada Falls in Winter

For our second day in Yosemite we wanted to hike to a waterfall.  The big questions was Upper Yosemite Falls or Vernal/Nevada Falls. We chose the later and it was quite the gorgeous hike.YosemiteVernalNevadaIMG_3899

We started from the parking lot at 8:45 and got back to the car at 5:45 with an hour spent at the top.

The mist trail was closed for the trek up through Vernal so we took the John Muir Trail which is also icy/snowy so crampons are a great idea for traction purposes. YosemiteVernalNevadaIMG_3901YosemiteVernalNevadaIMG_3903YosemiteVernalNevadaIMG_3908YosemiteVernalNevadaIMG_3910YosemiteVernalNevadaIMG_3911YosemiteVernalNevadaIMG_3916YosemiteVernalNevadaIMG_3917YosemiteVernalNevadaIMG_3918YosemiteVernalNevadaIMG_3921YosemiteVernalNevadaIMG_3924YosemiteVernalNevadaIMG_3928YosemiteVernalNevadaIMG_3931YosemiteVernalNevadaIMG_3937YosemiteVernalNevadaIMG_3942YosemiteVernalNevadaIMG_3947YosemiteVernalNevadaIMG_3961YosemiteVernalNevadaIMG_3964YosemiteVernalNevadaIMG_3970YosemiteVernalNevadaIMG_3973YosemiteVernalNevadaIMG_3978YosemiteVernalNevadaIMG_3985YosemiteVernalNevadaIMG_3988YosemiteVernalNevadaIMG_4014YosemiteVernalNevadaIMG_4015YosemiteVernalNevadaIMG_4016YosemiteVernalNevadaIMG_4025YosemiteVernalNevadaIMG_4030YosemiteVernalNevadaIMG_4036YosemiteVernalNevadaIMG_4037

Upon reaching the top of Nevada Falls it was HOT and we were in need of a cold brew!YosemiteVernalNevadaIMG_4039YosemiteVernalNevadaIMG_4040YosemiteVernalNevadaIMG_4048YosemiteVernalNevadaIMG_4017YosemiteVernalNevadaIMG_4049

Even got a little snowshoeing in on top of Nevada Falls.YosemiteVernalNevadaIMG_3956

We estimated that with all the trail closures we hiked about 12.5 miles! Quite the bunz burn!YosemiteVernalNevadaIMG_3966

After our day of hiking we were famished SO we stopped in Mariposa at 1850 for a burger and beer!YosemiteVernalNevadaIMG_3935

Back to the Bay for the work week. Full of stoke!

Winter fun at Calaveras Big Trees State Park

Looking for a quick weekend get away from the Bay Area? Look no further than Calaveras Big Trees State Park area.

At only 2.5 hours from Oakland.. its as easy to get to as Santa Cruz and definelty worth the drive!

The higher you climb the more snow you see! For a coastal gal like me snow is really exciting and my inner child gets really excited… even if it is a light coating on the side of the road.

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We lucked out last minute and were able to reserve a cabin for week of… always great to check and see if there have been any late cancelations!calaverasbigtreesstateparkunadjustednonraw_thumb_8b62

Enjoying a milk stout after unloading the car… very tiring. hacalaverasbigtreesstateparkunadjustednonraw_thumb_8b65calaverasbigtreesstateparkunadjustednonraw_thumb_8b6b

Quick hike before sundown! Really beautiful to see the sun go down through the trees.calaverasbigtreesstateparkunadjustednonraw_thumb_8b6d

Wood stove fire place… perfect place for S’MORES! Don’t think I have ever stuffed my face with more s’mores. calaverasbigtreesstateparkunadjustednonraw_thumb_8b79Here are a few trail options that you will probably want to check out before heading out! As always with State Parks and National Parks I love asking the rangers for their personal tips and tricks!

Trails Overview

South Grove Trail

Best Trails

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After a day of snow-hiking a brewski is much needed! AND everyone thinks so… Snowshoe was packed! Staff is friendly but be prepared to wait with a big group or for dinner! You can get beer to go in a growler or bottles. Not the best beer I have ever had.. but I am a beer snob. I will say that it def helped hit the spot after a day of ‘hard work’.calaverasbigtreesstateparkunadjustednonraw_thumb_8bb1

Our little cabin had a full kitchen so we were able to make dinner and breakfast which was awesome!

On our last morning, my Friends made probably the most amazing French Toast I have ever had with their homemade sourdough bread. How can food bring such joy and then sadness when you realize you can’t have it everyday!

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I also was able to do a lot of weaving over the weekend which was really nice! It was great to sit by the fire and all have our individual tasks going. calaverasbigtreesstateparkunadjustednonraw_thumb_8bb2calaverasbigtreesstateparkunadjustednonraw_thumb_8bb4

One more hike before the short but windy road home! calaverasbigtreesstateparkunadjustednonraw_thumb_8bbacalaverasbigtreesstateparkunadjustednonraw_thumb_8bb9calaverasbigtreesstateparkunadjustednonraw_thumb_8bb8calaverasbigtreesstateparkunadjustednonraw_thumb_8bb7

Such a cool weekend! Really glad we were able to take a last minute trip into the Mountains for some snow play and R&R. Winter is steadily becoming one of my FAV seasons.calaverasbigtreesstateparkunadjustednonraw_thumb_8bbb

A little more information about visiting Calaveras in the snow.

The Warming Hut – Open weekends and holidays from Thanksgiving through late March  12 pm—4 pm. Get your hot chocolate or warm up by the fire. Pretty crowded but cute idea. 

Snowshoe Tours – Offered on Saturdays and some holidays at 1 pm.  Bring your own showshoes or borrow a pair of ours. Meet at Warming Hut.

On Your Own – Snow play is allowed in the North Grove area.  Build a snow person, ride a sled, or simply marvel at the beauty.  Bring your own cross-country skis or snowshoes and travel the North Grove trail or the 3.5 mile loop out the park road and back through the campground.

On Saturdays at 1:00pm we offer a guided hike through the North Grove area of the park.  Come enjoy the beauty and grandeur of the park while learning about why this place is so special.  The hike is approximately 1.5 hours long and is open to all family members (except dogs).  

In the event we have enough snow in the park the hike will be a snowshoe hike.  Some snowshoes are available for use on a first come, first served basis.  Snowshoes are available for rent in the town of Arnold located three miles west on Highway 4.

The cost of the hike is free with paid admission to the park; meet at the Visitor Center and wear appropriate footwear.  For more information, please call the Visitor Center at (209) 795-3840 or (209) 795-7980.

Libation: Snowshoe Brewing Company in Arnold

Zion – The Narrows in Winter

You may be going into this post thinking… The Narrows in the Winter?? It must be freezing and well you might be right… It would be cold without the proper gear.

We were recommended Zion Outfitter by a local for having the best Narrows Gear. Like I mentioned in my previous post – the staff is super friendly here, they fixed a crampon that I didn’t even buy from their store! Great service.

Another important tid bit is that you need to start as early as possible… I know its hards but it will make your experience so much better! Towards the end of our hike icicles were dropping which is terrifying.

The park ranger told us that a man got a perma dent in his head from an icicle falling on him. So set your alarm, get your booties in gear and get in the water early. You will also see way less people. We saw maybe 10 total while we were in the Narrows and a whole slew of people were coming in as we were leaving.

Falling icicles, no thanks…Get an early start – no melting ice!

Also… an amazing resource was a post from Just a Colorado Gal about her experience hiking The Narrows in the Winter. Great inspiration!

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We found this map super helpful … well super helpfulish. I think we were walking faster than it guestimated. At any rate helpful to have!img_2901img_2902zionnationalparkpuxg5473zionnationalparkwhiw6512

All geared up! So cute and so dry!zionnationalparkoskk4427zionnationalparklwjd8993zionnationalparkimg_8415zionnationalparkimg_8414zionnationalparkrzvt0001zionnationalparkimg_8392zionnationalparkimg_8393zionnationalparkimg_8391zionnationalparkimg_7825zionnationalparkimg_8428zionnationalparkwvzm6915

I wasn’t expecting how much walking there would be outside of the water… many areas you could walk on dry ground.zionnationalparkimg_7836zionnationalparkimg_7838zionnationalparkimg_7837zionnationalparkimg_8448zionnationalparkimg_8445zionnationalparkimg_8452zionnationalparkimg_7840

Another potentially helpful tip would be to bring extra gloves… I fell in within the first 5 minutes so one of my gloves were wet the entire time. Actually, not terrible but if this would be a deal breaker for you… and you are falling prone than bring extra gloves. I think I fell a total of 3 times … maybe 4. hahazionnationalparkimg_7839zionnationalparkimg_7843zionnationalparkvyak6145zionnationalparkimg_7865zionnationalparkimg_7867

The views were truly unlike anything I have seen before. It was outer-wordly. zionnationalparkimg_7860

They say the camera adds 10 pounds… but I might say 20 lbs in this photo!zionnationalparkimg_8459

The best hydro sneaks – kept our feet SO dry!zionnationalparktaxt8745zionnationalparkimg_8454zionnationalparkimg_7886

Beautiful!zionnationalparkimg_7888zionnationalparkimg_7895zionnationalparkimg_7892zionnationalparkimg_7891zionnationalparkimg_7890

If you prepare for The Narrows in Winter you will have an amazing experience. This will be an experiencing I remember for the rest of my life.

Zion – Angel’s Landing in Winter

Our first full day in Zion and we needed some fuel so we stopped at Cafe Soleil .  I ordered the breakfast burrito and dirty soy chai latte ( chai latte with shot of espresso! ). Very filling and great. zionnationalparkimg_2227

Next we headed to Zion Outfitter to inquire about hiking the Narrows the following day. How much for gear rental, weather conditions etc. This place was recommended to us by our bartender the night before as having the best equipment for the Narrows. I don’t have anything to compare it to but I had a great experience with everyone who worked here. I highly suggest purchasing your crampons beforehand ( much cheaper!) but they also had the good crampons not just yak tracks.

Finally headed into the park, lines get longer the later it gets. Loved this ‘RL GOOD’ license plate!  After stopping at the visitor center and getting information about trail closures etc…  we decided to start hiking at Lower Emerald Pool Trail and see how we were feeling. We had NO.. I repeat NO intention of hiking to Angel’s Landing. The park ranger specified how dangerous it was and that if we were to fall there would be no rescue party – yowzaaaa so we decided we would just build our own hike and see where it would take us. zionnationalparkimg_2230

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PC : John Thomas

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From Lower Emerald Pool Trail to The Grotto Trail and Kayenta Trail then finally towards Angel’s Landing Trail itself. Once we were there we decided to just see how far we could go.. we all had crampons and hiking poles which made ALL the difference. People were hiking without but I don’t know why you would.zionnationalparkimg_2243zionnationalparkimg_2249zionnationalparkimg_2254zionnationalparkimg_7679zionnationalparkimg_7681

MADE IT TO THE TOP! WOOHOO – Amazing feeling, can not begin to describe! Don’t think I would do it again but it was invigorating. I almost feel that in the winter it might be better… this is because with the crampon you really dig into the snow instead of just climbing on rock.

I would definelty reccomend Angel’s Landing in winter but you 100% should have crampons and hiking poles! zionnationalparkimg_7682zionnationalparkimg_7686zionnationalparkimg_7689

Someone even took the time to make a snowman!

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PC : Chelsea Thomas
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PC : Chelsea Thomas

Heading back down – on the way up this trail was full of people… now it is deserted.

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SO many switchbacks! I don’t know how I would have survived this without my poles or crampons.. I will keep saying it.. they were lifesavers!! zionnationalparkimg_7698zionnationalparkimg_7703zionnationalparkimg_8293

Felling really amazing after this hike!zionnationalparkimg_8298

Spotted some wildlife!zionnationalparkimg_2255

Now headed to Zion Mountain Ranch… our home for the next two days! Time to relax. zionnationalparkimg_2389