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I took a little vacation in Yosemite National Park the first week of December this year. Staying in the Valley at Yosemite Lodge was really nice. I was hoping to do some cross country skiing. The Pacific Storms came in but it was rain. No matter it's all good great in Yosemite. The short days and low sun angle provide a unique experience. All photos were taken by me. Sorry about the little water spot you can see in the upper left on many of the images. I walked about 35 miles and changed elevation a bunch during four day hikes.

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    Upper Yosemite Falls Trail many little unnamed falls running

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     Mariposa Grove parking lot to Wawona Point and back I saw no other people.

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     These flowers are bright yellow and black in late summer
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     Driving back into the Valley from Wawona
     Bridalveil Fall

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     Ribbon Fall
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     Ribbon Fall and El Cap
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     Up the John Muir Trail and Down the Mist Trail. Rained hard all day very few pics.

     The Fen in winter
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     Vernal Fall
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     Nevada Fall
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     Yosemite Lodge to Glacier Point and back via Four Mile Trail
     Early in the morning misty riverside behind the Lodge.
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     Four Mile Trail views
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     Glacier Point Views
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     Four Mile Trail Views Return
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     Back by the River in the Afternoon
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Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 3:35 AM PT: Thanks to all for the recs, tips and comments. I'm glad you enjoyed the photos. Sorry I wasn't able to stick around in the afternoon. Snow removal at home became a priority yesterday. After that was completed I was spent and crashed. Here is the first report this year from the winter Rangers in Tuolumne Meadows.

Tuolumne Meadows Winter Conditions Report
Weather: December 11 through December 18
High temp: 38 °F (December 11th)
Low temp: -11 °F (December 7th )
New Snow: 22”
Total settled snow depth: 29” as of December 18th

Skiing Conditions and Weather: It was a snowy week in the Tuolumne area. We
had measurable snowfall 5 out of 7 days. Though it was not the big Sierra
dump, the snowfall this week contributed to the settled base depth, which
in turn contributed to more favorable ski conditions. The density of the
snow that fell this week varied from <5% (12/12) to 10% (12/18). The
bluebird day that followed that low density snowfall was the finest day of
powder skiing thus far this winter. It was light and dry powder on top of
a smooth supportable surface. The short days of December, with the sun low
on the horizon, makes the lighting this time of year reason enough to get
out and enjoy this winter wilderness. The freshly fallen snow clinging to
the pines gives an added air of tranquility to the surroundings and peace
prevails in the high country of Yosemite National Park.

Avalanche and Snowpack Conditions: For the latest avalanche advisory for
this area go to www.esavalanche.org for the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center
and click on advisory. The ESAC site is updated several times a week and
more often during weather events. These updates should begin any day now
for the season…

We did not see any avalanche activity or observe any signs of instability
on our patrols this week. I would qualify that by saying that we did not
venture into the high alpine zone this week, but rather kept our patrols at
timberline and below. We hope to get up to the Sierra Crest this week and
have a good look around….weather permitting. There was not much wind
associated with our weather this week, so its effect on the snow was
probably minimal. The melt freeze crusts that we identified last week are
persisting on most aspects and elevations. We will keep an eye on them as
the winter progresses. There was some very impressive surface hoar
(feathery crystals that develop on the snow surface) development this week
in places. These snow crystals are beautiful to look at on the snow
surface, but once buried by subsequent storms can become a persistent
weakness that can cause a failure of the snowpack and lead to avalanches.

Wildlife: The fresh snow this week gave us a chance to hone our animal
track identification skills. We observed tracks left by Coyote, Douglas
Squirrels, Pine Martens, Ermine, and Snow Shoe Hare. We observed a Pine
Marten with an unlucky Hare (or part of one) in his mouth looking for a
place to have lunch in peace. The bird sightings this week were
highlighted by a Northern Goshawk and included Mountain Chickadees, Brown
Creepers, Ravens, and Clark’s Nutcrackers.

Questions: The Tuolumne Ski Hut is open for the season. There is an ample
supply of firewood and 10 bunks that are available on a first come, first
served basis. You can call the Tuolumne Meadows Ranger Station at
(209)372-0450. If you leave a message we will get back to you the first
chance we get. Power and phones are frequently out of service. Contact the
Wilderness Office at (209) 372-0740 with any questions or concerns if you
are unable to reach the Ranger Station. Come prepared; don’t count on
electricity or phone service at the ski hut.
Let it Snow! (L. & R. Pilewski)

Originally posted to jbob on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 07:08 AM PST.

Also republished by Backyard Science and National Parks and Wildlife Refuges.

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