Sometimes travel is all about (un)lucky timing. You can plot your trip out months in advance, reserve your favorite hotel or campground, pack all the gear you'll think you need, and then wham! Nature decides it has other ideas for your trip: how about a massive Sierra Nevada snowstorm in spring?
This last weekend in Yosemite National Park, so much snow hit that wet clumps falling off spindly pine trees in the valley actually hurt as they thumped my head. Even with AWD and snow tires, driving up into the mountains to Big Oak Flat from Groveland felt like Mission Impossible. Trekking to the bathroom and shower house from my tent cabin at Curry Village was more like a mini hike, post-holing through a heavy blanket of snow.
But who cares once the storm clouds floated away, piercingly blue skies were revealed, and the powder dusting on Half Dome looked as ethereal as a fairlyand? Even when grey skies fleetingly returned, snowshoeing across the meadow by the Merced River still felt like a movie set, with us as the pioneer explorers heading for unknown parts. Frazil ice in the stream below Yosemite Falls was a bonus.
It even snowed along Hwy. 49 in California's Gold Country, which made me imagine mid-19th-century gold miners shivering in their tents by Sutter's Creek, praying they'd make it through another winter on hardtack biscuits and rancid bacon, until they could pan for gold again next spring. Just like a few of them did, I got lucky, too. Adventuring in Yosemite during a snowstorm turned out not to be bad luck at all.
Have you had a memorable trip that got messed up by weather, only to turn out spectacularly? Tell us about it by leaving a comment below!
Skiing & Snowshoeing in Yosemite National Park
Catching the Firefall in Yosemite Valley
Tahoe Trails Without the Crowds, But with Dogs
Photo credits: Yosemite National Park (Sara J. Benson)