Rekindling My Inner Child At Yosemite National Park

Glacier Point Winter Cross Country Skiing Half Dome Yosemite National Park Glacier Point Ski Hut - Photo by: Local Freshies - Image appears courtesy: Visit Yosemite | Madera County

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Yosemite. The word conjures up images of unrivaled natural beauty. A playground for the outdoor enthusiast from rock climbing to backcountry skiing & every imaginable activity in between. When we were offered the opportunity to cross-country ski to the Glacier Point Ski Hut, we couldn’t say no. As John Muir once said, “The Mountains are calling and I must go.”

Glacier Point Ski Hut

Glacier Point Ski Hut Yosemite National Park Cross Country Skiing
Photo by: Local Freshies – Appears courtesy: Visit Yosemite | Madera County

First, let us just say once we started looking into the journey out to the hut, we suddenly became a bit intimidated. Starting at the Yosemite Nordic Cross Country Center, the journey on cross-country skis, or even snowshoes, is over 10.5 miles ONE-WAY to the final destination. We’ve done many backcountry trips, but this would be nearly double the distance of any previous excursions. Looking over the topographical maps, it all seemed doable except maybe the switchbacks towards the end of the route. They looked like they were no joke.

Why We’re Going

rock climbing winter Yosemite National Park
Even mid-winter, multi-sport adventure awaits in Yosemite – Photo by: Local Freshies® – Image appears courtesy: Visit Yosemite | Madera County

While you can get to the Glacier Point Ski Hut via car in the summer, the only way out there in the winter is by human power. The few articles that talk about it say the long trek is well worth it. Not just for the views, but the seclusion. With no tourists around and spectacular vistas of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome & the High Country, this might be the closest way to see why people such as John Muir and Ansel Adams fell in love with nature.

Yosemite National Park Bound

Due to it being winter, the only way into Yosemite National Park from Tahoe was to head west first and then drop down through the Sierra foothills. Zipping past the winter wonderland known as Kirkwood, our truck quickly descended into luscious green pastures filled with “happy” cows. Making quick work of the drive, we pull into Yosemite Village, our base camp for tonight.

Ice Skating Rink At Half Dome Village

Curry Village Best Ice Skating Rank In America Yosemite National Park Winter Fun
Ice Skating @ Half Dome Village – Photo by: Local Freshies® – Image appears courtesy: Visit Yosemite | Madera County

With some time before dinner, we decide to head over & and check out what USA Today considers the BEST ice-skating rink in the United States. Not gonna lie… it’s been over a decade since I laced up a pair of skates, so I’m a bit nervous. Luckily, it’s just like riding a bike. As soon as I step onto the ice, I’m transported back to my childhood. A flood of nostalgic memories come to the surface that I totally forgot about. Surrounded by huge conifers, it feels less like a built arena & more like a pond I used to skate on as a kid.

Transported Back To My Childhood

Suddenly, a big smile comes over my face as the cold air smacks against my cheeks. Why has it been so long? Picking up speed, I begin to glide around the rink faster & faster. With a completely goofy grin, I swear to myself that I will NEVER let another ten years pass before I get onto a patch of frozen water again. Even though I could’ve spent a few more hours on the ice, my stomach had other plans.

Yosemite Valley Lodge

We head back to the Yosemite Valley Lodge. Nestled among century old cedars, the grounds of the hotel are magnificent and well maintained. The architecture reminded me of the Brady Bunch as it all blended perfectly with the surrounding area. Throwing our gear into our room, we head over to dinner.

The Mountain Room IS A MUST!

Yosemite Valley Lodge Mountain Room Fine Dining Yosemite National Park
Exterior of the Mountain Room – Photo by: Local Freshies® – Image appears courtesy: Visit Yosemite | Madera County

While the food court is a great option, the Mountain Room is a MUST for at least one evening. After the infamous flood of 1997, the main complex was redesigned with an emphasis on glass and wood detailing to blend harmoniously with its surroundings. The Mountain Room has that in spades! As soon as you step into the main dining room, you’ll be greeted to HUGE vaulted ceilings & tall glass windows serving as a fantastic backdrop for amazing food.

A Taste Of “Campfire”

Yosemite Valley Lodge Mountain Room Fine Dining Yosemite National Park Campfire Trout
The campfire trout tastes even better than it looks – Photo by: Local Freshies® – Image appears courtesy: Visit Yosemite | Madera County

From what we could tell, nearly everything on the menu is mouthwatering but the Campfire Trout is at a whole other level. Taking an entire trout, they filet it & stuff fresh dill and smoked lemon inside (yes, they actually SMOKE the lemon ahead of time). Then they fold it back up and bake it. The trout is so juicy, thick and tender that it tastes like a fresh piece of salmon from Alaska with a slight smokiness due to the lemon. Let’s just say you won’t be disappointed in ordering it.

Local Cuisine

Yosemite Valley Lodge Mountain Room Dining At Night Madera Chicken California Restaurant Month
Best chicken we’ve ever had – Photo by: Local Freshies® – Image appears courtesy: Visit Yosemite | Madera County

If you do happen to visit Yosemite during California’s Restaurant Month or maybe just get lucky and they have Madera chicken on the menu, don’t miss out on it. This chicken isn’t like anything you’ve ever tasted before. The meat is dense like a high-end swordfish steak but juicy like a perfectly-cooked chicken. Served on a bed of wild rice that is tender yet hearty, any juices that you might have missed from the chicken get absorbed by the perfect carb compliment. It’s one of the greatest examples I’ve personally seen where fresh, local ingredients matter!

With our bellies full, it was time to head to bed & get ready for the LONG adventure ahead to Glacier Point Ski Hut.

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