We had brand new snow and now that Badger Pass Ski Area had opened, that meant Glacier Point Road was open and a whole big world of snowshoeing possibilities were calling to me. The first snowshoe of the season was to Dewey Point and it was indescribably beautiful.
Where: Yosemite National Park
Distance: 8 Miles
Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous
Elevation Range: 7,234′ – 7,381′
Date: December 18, 2014
Maps: El Capitan Topographic Quad
It was about 27 degrees when we parked at the north parking lot at Badger Pass Ski Area, starting out with my snowshoes, snow baskets on my hiking poles, pack, layered clothes, water and a lunch. We headed up the groomed Glacier Point Road, which is closed to vehicle traffic during the winter. Snow still clung to the trees and they were so pretty.
There are two marked trails that take you to Dewey Point, the Ridge Trail #14 and the easier Meadow Trail #18. We decided to go in via the Meadow Route. Snowshoeing up Glacier Point Road, avoiding the groomed cross country ski tracks about 1.9 miles past Summit Meadow and the pit toilet, we came to the junction of the Meadow Trail. (Photo of us heading up Glacier Point Road by Gail Gilbert)
Summit Meadow, partially lined with a split rail fence, and its pristine snow was beautiful. The twigs along the meadow still had frost on them, reflecting the early morning light. I loved the way that the snow hung on the fence.
Just past the meadow and the pit toilet, we turned left onto the Meadow Route and there were numerous yellow trail markers high up in the trees with the trail number of “18” all along the way. The trail led us through another beautiful meadow.
Sometime the trail led through trees that were so covered up with snow, that it looked kind of unworldly. Gail Gilbert took the picture of me walking through this area.
We soon came to an area that opened up and we could begin to see where we would be heading to and the gorgeous snow covered country out ahead of it. I left the trail to hug the edge of ridge to capture the views better.
Just before we reached Dewey Point, the views of the farther mountains started revealing themselves. This pair of Sugar Pine cones caught my eye. They were covered with pitch that glistened as if they had been flocked with snow.
Dewey Point is named after Admiral George Dewey of the Spanish American War. He is best known for his victory at the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War. He was also the only person in the history of the United States to have attained the rank of Admiral of the Navy, the most senior rank in the United States Navy.
Here is something new that I learned about Admiral George Dewey from Wikipedia.
“Many suggested Dewey run for President on the Democratic ticket in 1900. His candidacy was plagued by public relations missteps. He was quoted as saying the job of president would be easy since the chief executive was merely following orders in executing the laws enacted by Congress and that he would ‘execute the laws of Congress as faithfully as I have always executed the orders of my superiors.’ He admitted to never having voted in a presidential election. He drew yet more criticism when he offhandedly, but prophetically, told a newspaper reporter that ‘Our next war will be with Germany.’Dewey also angered some Protestants by marrying a Catholic and giving her the house that the nation had given him following the war.Dewey withdrew from the race in mid-May 1900 and endorsed William McKinley.”
Did I mention that the views from Dewey Point are amazing? I could look up the Tenaya Canyon all of the way to Mount Conness and could pick out many mountains to the east such as Clouds Rest and Cathedral Peak. All of those high spots were well-coated with snow.
Dewey Point was a great spot to stop by lunch but the high temperature for the day was about 34 degrees, so we didn’t stay too long.
We headed back out the same we came in. We did get in a little extra bonus mileage on this snowshoe adventure, retracing our steps to try and find something that one of our party had dropped along the way. If your hiking buddies don’t drop something where you have to backtrack, the mileage is shorter, about 7.2 miles round trip. You can also make this a loop, going out the Ridge Route on Trail “14.”
Snowshoeing out to Dewey Point can be a very special adventure. I just love to do it when it is timed just after a fresh snow. The trail out is beautiful in itself but once you get to the Dewey Point area, you have this commanding view up Tenaya Canyon where you can spot snow covered peaks all the way up to the Tioga Pass area. Like I said at the beginning, it is indescribable!
Hiking in the winter has special challenges and safety issues related to it. There are many books and online information on safety issues related to this, along with checklists on what to bring along with you. I wouldn’t even think of doing a trip such as this without brushing up on these items.
If you are interested in snowshoeing to Dewey Point, the Badger Pass Ski Center rents showshoes. For more information on Badger Pass or their rates, check out http://www.yosemitepark.com/BadgerPass.aspx You can also check out their webcam and online information for current conditions.
Hartesveldt, Richard J., Yosemite Valley Place Names (1955)