Friday, June 09, 2023

Gone Hiking 2023 Hetch Hetchy Day 2b: Snow To Lake Vernon

 Mileage:  11.83 miles/19 km

Elevation Gain:  3,412 ft/1040 m

The second half of day was completely and totally hiking in snow.

On the bright side, the snowpack was still relatively thick - I would estimate 4' to 6'/1.2 to 1.8 m and so post holing (dropping through the crust to your thigh or waist) was a non issue. One did get down to one's ankles every time though, and the wet shoes from water crossings never really dried.  My feet were cold, but never as cold as they were last year when our shoes froze overnight.

From the boles of trees, one could get a sense of how much snow there was.  I have not hiked on this much snow...ever.  The last time I saw this much was likely 45 years ago.

The Outdoorsman is a far quicker hiker than I am and I was soon left behind, following a trail of footprints.  Fortunately no-one had been this way, so the trail was quite easy to follow.

Hiking in snow, for those that have done it, is exhausting.  It was not physically difficult, the lifting of the feet and placing them, but the amount of energy required to do it was rather surprising to me (not to my readers that live in snow country, I suspect).

Finally, at the crest of the hill, we saw Lake Vernon.  

We also, on our way down, saw another hiker.  This was incredibly encouraging as he was heading the other way - so we knew the trail out was passable.

The descent to the bottom of the hill took two forms.  One was glissading, a fancy French word for sliding down the hill on your butt.   The Outdoorsman did this several times.  I, being the far more fearful, slowly worked my way down sidestepping.  

Until I fell on my butt and I, too discovered glissading.

(Actual post-glissading photo)

We continued down, until we reached the outlet for Lake Vernon.  Oddly enough at the bridge over the outlet (thankfully there was a bridge - one more significant water crossing would have killed me), we had cellphone service. The Outdoorsman was talking with my sister - apparently the subject of conversation was whether or not he had lost me when I (thankfully) came around the corner).

The area that the campground was on was (of course) covered with snow.  After looking on AllTrails, the app that we use for hiking and finding nothing that hinted at an actual campsite, I finally confessed that I was just about spent.  We found an area which had trees that had exposed rock and earth around them.  I started to set up my tent but discovered that melted earth means inhabitants - ants, in this case, who were more than happy to have visitors.

The Outdoorsman had already set his tent up on the snow.  I joined him.

As the ants were quick to visit anyone or anything not on the snow, we jury rigged a methodology to sit, cook and eat on the snow.  The evening was pleasant - helped, of course, by tonight's choice of alcohol, whiskey.  For the first time forever, on the rocks without any ice cubes.

As soon as the sun sank behind the hills, the temperature began to drop rapidly.  By 1900 we were in our tents getting ready for bed.


  1. Ooh. Cold feet and a cold butt. Don't think I could do that any more. But you got some great pictures, TB!
    You all be safe and God bless.

    1. Linda - The feet were cold, but I found a rock to sit on in the snow and overall my butt was warm enough - thankfully!


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