Day 2 started early in a hotel room just outside the park. The night before we made sandwiches and filled our Camelbacks for our cross country skiing adventure. Before the sun was up we hit the road at 50 mph going over hills and around the deserted corners, but then we came across the dreaded sign “Chains Required”. Maybe it was just us, but we struggled to get our chains on the first time and messing with spring loaded metal cables in 15 degree temperatures is not what I want to do at 7am. We pulled to the side of the road and untangled the chains. At least this time it wasn’t in a parking lot full of people all doing the same thing trying to race each other into the park. I took off my gloves and draped the chains over the tire trying to connect the hooks as fast as possible before my hands froze. Miraculously the hooks engaged without me having to pull with all my strength and embarrass myself in front of Katharine. It didn’t help that our chains were brightly colored and looked like toys more than life savers. (Well, they actually did look like lifesavers, the candy)
Sorry for the blurry photo but you can see how colorful our chains were
The second tire also went smoothly – I guess the chains just needed to be worked in- and then we were on the road again. Of course now we were traveling at 25 mph and the car was vibrating vigorously from the chains. Soon we gained enough elevation to hit the snow line and found ourselves in a winter wonderland. Driving at night was impressive but early in the morning with the sun reflecting through the trees it was breath taking. We came across a look out point which gave us a great view of the Valley, El Capitan, and Half Dome.
1/125 sec, f/5.1, 18.2 mm (Katharine)
I did get to use the GorrillaPod to capture the morning light.
Something to keep in mind with a little tripod: you’re going to have to get close to the ground.
1/30 sec, f/20.0, 60 mm
We were headed to the Badger Pass Ski resort (downhill and x-country skiing), but to get there we had to pass through several tunnels which were guarded by massive icicles. It looked like entering the mouth of a monster. It also made for a short adrenaline rush as we passed under them hoping they wouldn’t fall.
1/15 sec, f/6.3, 33 mm
After winding our way through tall snowdrift-lined roads we arrived at the ski resort. We opted for the 2 hour lesson which proved essential. It looks so easy, two skies slowly gliding along in groomed tracks no less, but in actuality it’s pretty easy to fall and it takes a lot of effort if you don’t use good form. After the lesson we continued skiing up the trail to the older Badger Pass slope. The lesson didn’t cover the steep hill we slowly inched up and it most certainly didn’t prepare us for the “ride” down.
I think Katharine got the hang of it- sliding down somewhat controlled while standing up.
I tried a more tuck-and-roll method which entertained a few snowshoers waiting for me to get out of their way. I am guessing this is why we don’t have any video and not too many photos of the event. By the time we got to the bottom we had figured it out but it was time to head to the campsite for New Years!