Thursday, April 11, 2013

SLAY - part 3: Mt. Watkins!

"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings"
                                                                                                      - John Muir

Our third day of the tour was an unknown.  I figured it'd be a pretty quick day, but having not studied the route closely, I hadn't realized that we had another 15+ mile day in front of us.  But after chatting with the Tuolumne Meadows Winter Rangers, Rob & Laura Pilewski, they assured us that it should be another easy day.  They also update the Tuolumne Meadows Conditions page weekly.  And since we went to bed pretty early, we woke up before sunrise and got off to another early start.  And it was a good thing we did, as the snow stayed nice and cold until around noon, when we started breaking through the crust.  But by then we were nearly at our destination for the night.

Unicorn & Cathedar Peak moonset.
Imagine having this as your backyard every morning... the TM winter rangers live in zen.  
Garbage cans!  Don't even have to pack out your trash... now that's some luxury hut livin'!
The biggest man with the smallest backpack.  Nice job packing!
the view for the first hour... 
Cruising across these meadows was a really peaceful experience... listening to the coyotes howl, birds chirping, and the grouse drumming.  
A look back at the Unicorn
Mariuolumne Dome, with Hobbit Book... my first climb in Yosemite... over 10 years ago.
Stefan with Fairview Dome behind him.  The regular route is a classic route that I did with Funk a few years back.  

Soon the sun came out... and was HOT.  We were hoping to ski across Tenaya Lake, but the sides were melted out.
Some evidence of slides
Tenaya Lake
more slides...
The view from Olmstead Pt.  In the middle you can see all the way to Conness, which Nick and I climbed last summer.  
and soon we got off the flat road and started going down...
actually mainly just Stefan and Alexis... they were testing their Nordic ski set up
Soon we found our cache.... which was right next to this one.
Contents:  One handle (1.75 liters) of whiskey.  One mini bottle of Jager... and a bag of beef jerkey.
Amazing.  We were quite impressed.  But we were quite stoked that Johnny didn't leave us this cache.  
and left us some quality brews.  Which didn't freeze btw.  We were also expecting to find some Name Tag (as everything was from TJs).. and although we would've drank anything, these beers were far superior... check out the high praises of Name Tag Lager from the "Beer Man"
check out the elasticity of the snow on this tree... Alexis was betting 10$ that I couldn't cross it...
Soon the winds picked up, the sun went behind the clouds, and we went on another short tour.
and got caught in a hail storm... with some thunder.  The forecast was for some thundersnow...  which might have been the case in the upper elevations.  
Then we went back, got Stefan and toured up Mt. Watkins.  Where we were treated to quite the show.  I had been up here before, when Nick & I climbed up the South Face of Watkins... which took 3 days.  Nice to be back...
half dome, half lit
light on the leaning tower
Jumping for joy

Clouds Rest... I wonder which line Torlano skied down... "When Clouds Rest is loaded with snow you never know what it's going to do," he said. "I've seen avalanches come ripping off that face, hit Tenaya Canyon, explode and create a rainbow." - wow... I'd like to see that...

Stefan's staples... 

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