Chris's birthday is February 17. This year, she wanted to go on a short trip to celebrate, and we decided on Yosemite. We hadn't been there in the winter before, and this looked like a great opportunity. In early January, we called to make reservations, but everything with heat was booked. We could have reserved an "unheated tent cabin", but decided not to.
We made reservations in Minden, Nevada, figuring that Lake Tahoe would be a good backup plan. However, Dale kept calling Yosemite to see if there had been cancellations. Finally, on February 3, we got lucky -- there was a room available at the Yosemite View Lodge in El Portal, just outside the western entrance of Yosemite National Park. The room had a view of the Merced river, large whirlpool bath, and a gas fireplace. It was very nice, and just about two miles from the Arch Rock entrance kiosk.
We drove from San Jose to El Portal on Friday, February 15, surprised at how quickly the 3 1/2 hour drive went. The next day, we drove into the park and enjoyed warm weather and clear skies. We hiked from the Wawona Tunnel up to Inspiration Point, a hike that climbs 1,100 feet in 1.3 miles. After our hike, we continued our drive up Wawona road to Badger pass ski area and looked around there for a while. Tired from our hike, we went back to the motel and had a nice soak in the big tub.
When we awoke on Sunday, we looked out to see heavy rain falling. We enjoyed a lazy morning, then headed up to the park around 10:00, making sure our snow chains were in the trunk. At about 3,000 feet of elevation, the heavy rain turned into heavy snow with huge flakes. We continued on, stopping occasionaly for pictures. The snow stopped around noon. We stayed on the valley floor and never needed our snow chains. That night, we celebrated Chris's birthday with a Hawaiian pizza at the hotel's restaurant.
We went into the park for a short visit on Monday morning. The sky was clear again, but it was quite cold. We drove up Old Oak Flat road, aka Highway 120. A sign at the bottom said that chains would be required in five miles. We drove up that far, stopping at overlooks and enjoying the fabulous views. We left the park about 11:00 and had an uneventful drive back to San Jose.
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