The Sierras around Yosemite National Park got a freak snowfall that brought 11″ in just under two days in late September, 2017. I got there not long after it had settled and set out on a trail in Twenty Lakes Basin near Tioga Pass, just outside the eastern park entrance. I was expecting colorful mountain rocks and nice, puffy clouds–what I got was 3rd degree burns from the UV and snowpack up to my shins, sometimes knees (I was wearing shorts). See, no one had been on the trail since the snow had fallen, so it was all still buried. And, having never been on this trail before, I had no idea where, exactly, I was going. Well, long story short, it was supposed to be a loop, I came up to a cliff I couldn’t see over, so I turned and headed back.
The nice couple I struck up a conversation with on my return, after I explained to them how I’d ended up, showed me a map and told me, based on my explanation, that I likely hadn’t gotten nearly as far as I’d thought. At some point, however, I had the bright idea to show them the video I shot right before I turned around. To my satisfaction, the woman viewing it said, “I know where that is. Holy crap! How did you get all the way up there?!” Apparently, I was on the trail for quite some time before veering off and then climbing several hundred feet up into No-Man’s Land. They brought me back to their camp with all their friends, gave me wine, Cheez-Its and cookies, made me assure them I actually owned a pair of pants and then sent me on my way with several maps so that this kind of thing would never happen to me again.
I didn’t have the heart to tell them that it probably would.
Two days later, after not-really-enjoying Yosemite for the thousands of people still visiting and for the lack of any favorable lighting, and after a considerable amount of snow melt in the previous 48 hours, I decided to go back and try the same trail one more time, only from the opposite direction. The snow was still shin-high in places, and I got momentarily lost on a couple occasions, but in just about an hour and a half I had nearly reached the point at which I’d veered off before, and took myself a little break. I was henceforth mollified.