Getting out in the winter can seem like a daunting venture. The cold, the clothing, the weather the skills needed and all sorts of other reasons. The hardest part of any mountain trip is often getting out the door and for a snowshoe trip into the winter wonders of the Sierra this is true.
But forget the image of a grizzled Alaskan trapper strapping on five-foot long snowshoes constructed of hickory and moose sinew and heading out into minus 40-degree weather – Modern snowshoe equipment is light and user friendly constructed of lexan or aluminum with quick release straps and buckles that make getting them on a cinch. If you can walk you can put a pair on and head out there and experience a Sierra very different to the summer one.
Generally, we have snow storms of short duration that can certainly drop a lot of snow but once the storm passes the weather turns back to blue skies and warmer temperatures and the snow quickly compacts giving easier travel.
The most important thing is a good pair of warm boots. Light weight hiking boots work but often get wet and once that happens the feet get cold quickly. Better to find a pair of “Sorrel” type snow boots and a pair of snowboard boots will suffice.
A set of ski poles, a day pack with water, food, clothing, gloves, sunscreen and a good pair of sunglasses and you are set to go.
From Bishop we have a number of ideal places to get a feel for things. These are often snow-covered roads and the South Lake Road, Lake Sabrina Road or especially Rock Creek above Toms Place all give you great place to learn the techniques and provide safe comfortable learning environments.
Once you are familiar with the gear then step it out and go a little further. On a full moon night try booking a dinner at Rock Creek Lodge and snowshoe up under the light of the moon. Head to the White Mountains and for a unique experience try to reach the Bristlecone groves. Even if you do not you will be rewarded by the finest views possible of the Sierra.
Just get out and do it. Once out the door it is not as bad as it might seem from inside.