In a very on-brand fashion, I celebrated my return to the US by spending two consecutive weekends in Yosemite with my favorite people during the first two weekends in November.

The weather forecast for the first weekend predicted lots of rain, but we decided to go anyways and test our luck. The worst thing that could happen is that we’re in the mountains and are forced to hike instead of climb, which isn’t at all bad outcome. I guess catching hypothermia or slipping on ice would also be bad outcomes but I like to think we’re generally responsible enough to avoid those.

In a stroke of luck, Saturday turned out to be a gorgeous day and we found a crag in the sun, so it was chilly but not numb-fingers-and-toes cold. Lindsey and I found a new favorite crack and we all got to try (and fall several times on) a hard crimpy face climb, a very successful climbing day in my book. It then rained all night and into Sunday morning, so we did a casual jaunt around Mirror Lake to enjoy the fall mountain colors and the baby bobcat that crossed our path before heading home a bit early on Sunday afternoon.

The next weekend, most of Yosemite and specifically the campground we stay in was covered in snow. I’ve been going to the park multiple times a year for 7 years now, but until now I had never braved the cold of winter to see or sleep in a snowy Yosemite Valley and I have to admit that it’s pretty magical.

When Will and I arrived on Friday night, someone had already dug out most of the parking spot for our campsite but we spent about half an hour shoveling snow to make room for another vehicle and for clear space to walk around. Luckily, Jake and Lindsey sleep in their adventure van and Will and I in a wedge tent mounted to his truck, so none of us had to sleep directly on the snowy ground. I mean, I like to camp, but I also like to be warm and comfortable so I’m more than fine with glamping in these situations.

Having a van also means we got to make dinner with a stove and an oven, so Jake and Lindsey warmed up tomato soup and made grilled cheese, a very cozy end to the day and definitely not your usual camping fare. We snuggled inside with blankets and mostly forgot about the snow and the cold until the boys got the motivation to make a fire for s’mores. The problem is that you can’t make a fire in the van, so we hung out outside in the snow gathered around the flames with hot drinks and melty marshmallows and it was a positively lovely time once I found my second glove that I’d lost.

The climbing, in contrast to the camping, was spectacular and sunny and warm all weekend. We (intelligently) chose two crags that get direct sunlight all day (Reed’s Pinnacle and Five and Dime), which make them unbearably hot in summer but an exceedingly pleasant choice in winter. Will was stoked to finally send his project and I struggled up the crack on toprope but eventually made it, so a successful weekend all around. As per usual, I didn’t take many photos, so you’ll just have to use your imagination on this one.

Friend Mel working her way up the Five and Dime crack

That may be the end of Yosemite trips for the season, but Will found a lovely little gym in Tahoe to train in and we’re stoked to get strong over the winter to be ready for spring climbing, which will likely happen right when I need to go back to Chile. Whomp. Hopefully I get a few sends in before that happens.

*Featured image in this post is by Pexels from Pixabay, free for commercial use.