It rarely rains in Yosemite in the summer. We often see one sunny day after another for weeks.
In winter the weather gets more interesting. I’m teaching a workshop in Yosemite Valley this week, and it’s been wet. Today brought the fifth storm in four days. We’ve seen four inches of precipitation during that period. Most of it has fallen as snow, but the temperature has been hovering just above freezing, so while the snow accumulates during intense downpours, as soon as the precipitation slows down the snow begins to melt, and the roads and walkways become filled with slush. But away from the roads it looks like a winter wonderland, with tree branches and cliff ledges outlined in white.
The snow itself cools surfaces and soon it starts sticking to trees and bushes, then the ground, then finally pavement. When the trees have only about a half an inch of snow on them each branch becomes delicately outlined, an etching come to life.
If the snow continues it gradually fills the woods and grows deeper in the meadows. There’s a point when you can start to feel it when you’re walking—when your feet have to push some snow out of the way with each step. It’s a pleasant feeling at first, like walking through a cloud. You watch your feet kick out little plumes with each step. But as the snow gets deeper walking becomes difficult, and it’s time to put on skis or snowshoes.
Clearing storm, Three Brothers and the Merced River