This year's Yosemite in January family trip took place in March. Edward Abbey has explained the need for the weekend better than I could.
...do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am — a reluctant enthusiast...a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic.
We drove up Friday during a midnight snowstorm. Saturday morning's first light: one patch of gold shining on a glittering silver wall.
Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here.
Of course, the best way to enjoy snow-covered land is to throw snowballs at an innocent, defenseless, camera-wielding parent.
I've been slimed!
So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space.
Yosemite in winter has one-tenth of its summer human population but its full complement of animals. The snow may bring a sense of stillness, but Yosemite is never silent. My meadow running path took me between two scarlet winged blackbirds having a trill-off. A coyote trotted along the riverbank, ducks swam in a vernal pond, and deer grazed by the visitors' center.
We skiied cross-country to a glimpse of Glacier Point and a world painted in only three colors: pure white, evergreen, and that dazzling blue of a clear sky. No can of paint will ever be able to match the most perfect shade of blue in the known universe.
Each below-freezing night, Yosemite Falls becomes outlined with an ice rim from frozen spray, and each warm day the ice falls off in huge chunks, rumbling and crashing down the cliff. The entire Valley echoes with the sound of a localized, constant thunderstorm in a cloudless azure sky.
In the flatlands below the Sierra, lupines cast a cobalt haze on green meadows, but winter still blankets the high country. Yosemite Valley shares the best aspects of both: snow falls but doesn't linger too long. By Sunday evening, almost all of Friday night's snow had melted, and what was left was hard and icy.
As a California native who thinks snow should be visited once a year, I lack snow skills. In particular, I don't know how to build a snowman. My teen said, "But Calvin and Hobbes make it look so easy!" After much packing, we managed to turn one found snowball into a proper three-ball snowman.
Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this: You will outlive the bastards.
My son is fascinated by Russia and political theory, so he named the snowman Wasp Dimitrius Lenin Marx Rasputin. I felt that global warming was bothering the snowman, so I lent him a jacket and renamed him Senator Inhofe. He'll be gone within a few weeks. I can only hope that the wrongs the Senator from Oklahoma commits against the planet will likewise melt away when exposed to sunlight.
On the way back home, I was hit with a stark reminder of the half-hearted fanatic's other half. A sign in the foothills bragged: "Pombo, Conservative for Congress." Yes, Richard Pombo, the extreme private property rights, enemy of the earth, ethically challenged former member of Congress who sought to sell off our national treasures and gut the Endangered Species Act, having been voted out of the 11th Congressional district, is now running in the 19th, which includes Yosemite. Retiring George Radanovich was bad for Yosemite, but Pombo will be a horror. Thus, I both enjoy the land and fight for it; each is necessary but not sufficient.