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Yosemite in winter: The story behind the photo gallery -- and a travel tip

December 10, 2010|By Catharine Hamm | Los Angeles Times Travel Editor
  • The iconic elm tree in Cook's Meadow in Yosemite Valley is shrouded by fog and fresh snow.
The iconic elm tree in Cook's Meadow in Yosemite Valley is shrouded… (Mark Boster / Los Angeles…)

Los Angeles Times photographer Mark Boster tells the story of winter in Yosemite in his second installment of Four seasons in Yosemite in print in the Sunday Travel section. With snow coating the national park, Boster’s pictures take on a quiet, contemplative feeling. There's a feeling of calm and silence.

But Boster also told me that it wasn't all Zen.

In Yosemite in winter, you'll probably find signs warning travelers that they need chains. “Being the most overly prepared (paranoid) man on the planet, I grabbed the box of cable chains that I had just purchased from an auto parts store at home and began to install them,” he wrote. "It was cold, my fingers were numb, and they were too large! Yikes! Either somebody had packed the wrong size into the box or this was a horrible joke.

"Luckily, there is a great little garage in the Yosemite Village who corrected the problem (for a fee). They had the right size, they installed them and I was on my way, grinning like a cat."

His victory was short-lived. He was playing loud rock 'n' roll in the car to drown out the clink, clink, clink of the chains when he suddenly realized that they had broken and wrapped themselves around the front axle of his car.

Having a Southern Californian's thin blood, Boster had brought plenty of clothing, so he suited up. "I put on my multiple jackets and gloves," he wrote. "But this time, instead of taking pretty pictures, I found myself on my back in a puddle of icy water untangling a tire chain. It is amazing how strong you can be when you come to the reality that you either untangle the chain, or stay there in the cold.

"The moral of the story is always be prepared, but double-check the size of your tire chains at home, where it is warm. Practice installing them and removing them in your warm driveway, and never go to Yosemite during the winter months without them."

Or without a peck of patience.

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