Since I’ve moved to Oakland, I’ve frequently observed that we don’t have winter here. During those months labeled “winter” on the calendar we get rain (at least now that the drought is broken) and the occasional blustery day, but so far I’ve gone so far as to put my wool hat and gloves on once this year.
If you’re the sort who pines for winter, there is a solution: drive out to Yosemite National Park or other parts of the Sierras. At 6,000 feet, there’s quite a lot of snow. (There are higher points in both the park and on other roads over the mountains, but most of them are closed for the winter.)
Here’s the best part about visiting winter: we went on sunny days when the temperature hit the low 70s. There was still plenty of snow, but you didn’t need to bundle up to look at it.
We were staying at a lodge just outside of Yosemite — my sweetheart was attending the Dry Climate Forum, a gathering of engineers who specialize in energy efficiency and water issues. We didn’t spend a lot of time, but we did get a chance to loop through Yosemite Valley and get a good look at El Capitan and Half Dome.
I also took a short hike in the park, down a winding road to an old swinging bridge. This was on Monday, so no one else was around. As I stood there looking at the bridge, wondering if I wanted to brave the ice between me and it to walk across it, I heard a noise behind me and looked up to see a guy riding a bicycle with very large tires down the path. I stepped to the side and watched him head over the icy rocks and across the bridge.
Once again, I was reminded of how fortunate we are in the U.S. to have national parks along with national forests and other public lands. Getting out in nature is an important part of being alive, and these facilities make it possible for visitors to really appreciate the land we live in.
I’m definitely going back, though I’m resisting my sweetheart’s suggestion that we go snow camping. I like visiting winter on a warm sunny day, but as far as I’m concerned, the lack of winter in Oakland is a feature, not a bug!