Yosemite in Snow

A snowy ride

Waking up to a winter wonderland this morning made us think of one of John’s wildest adventures riding an avalanche!  This is his description taken from ‘The Yosemite’ (1912)


“One fine Yosemite morning after a heavy snowfall, being
eager to see as many avalanches as possible and wide views of the forest and
summit peaks in their new white robes before the sunshine had time to change
them, I set out early to climb by a side cañon to the top of a commanding ridge a
little over three thousand feet above the Valley. On account of the looseness of
the snow that blocked the cañon I knew the climb would require a long time,
some three or four hours as I estimated; but it proved far more difficult than I
had anticipated. Most of the way I sank waist deep, almost out of sight in some
places. After spending the whole day to within half an hour or so of sundown, I
was still several hundred feet below the summit. Then my hopes were reduced to
getting up in time to see the sunset. But I was not to get summit views of any
sort that day, for deep trampling near the cañon head, where the snow was
strained, started an avalanche, and I was swished down to the foot of the cañon
as if by enchantment. The wallowing ascent had taken nearly all day, the
descent only about a minute. When the avalanche started I threw myself on my
back and spread my arms to try to keep from sinking. Fortunately, though the
grade of the cañon is very steep, it is not interrupted by precipices large enough
to cause outbounding or free plunging. On no part of the rush was I buried. I was
only moderately imbedded on the surface or at times a little below it, and covered
with a veil of back-streaming dust particles; and as the whole mass beneath and
about me joined in the flight there was no friction, though I was tossed here and
there and lurched from side to side. When the avalanche came to rest I found
myself on top of the crumpled pile without bruise or scar. This was a fine
experience. Hawthorne says somewhere that steam has spiritualized travel;
though unspiritual smells, smoke, etc., still attend steam travel. This flight in what
might be called a milky way of snow-stars was the most spiritual and exhilarating
of all the modes of motion I have ever experienced. Elijah’s flight in a chariot of
fire could hardly have been more gloriously exciting. “

Enjoy your sledging!