February 3rd, 2010: Blue Bird Day in Tuolumne Meadows

With all the creature comforts of a warm ski hut, it was another late start. Kevin's feet had been taking a serious beating over the last few days and were being held together by duct tape and a few well worn pieces of mole skin. Both our bodies were tired and it was agreed that today would be an "off" day and another night would be spent in the comforts of the TM Ski Hut. At this point our final plan and route were still undecided. Though reaching the Ostrander Ski Hut by Saturday to meet a larger group was an appealing goal, it was looking less realistic given our pace, the upcoming weather (heavy snow on the 5th), and our less-than-intimate knowledge of the area. We set out to find those with the answers: The Yosemite winter rangers.

The skis went back on, but thankfully the packs did not, as we cruised out into the meadows to find the rangers. We were hoping that they were not out exploring the wilds, as I would surely do in their position. It was a blue bird day and numerous peaks dominated the horizon. We first followed tracks west before turning back east across the Tuolumne River. Just east of the river we discovered several sets of tracks leading to a very nice house with several sets of skis and a pair of very helpful rangers.

Jeff and Kathi are in their 4th season as winter rangers in Tuolumne Meadows and have a great setup - despite being without power and phones for the time being. We reviewed our plans with them and went over multiple topo maps. It didn't take long for them to suggest we not go for Ostrander, but instead adjust our route towards the Snow Creek Ski Cabin. This cabin's existence was news to me, but Kevin had heard rumors of it. The tent would serve as an emergency option, but Snow Creek Ski Cabin, and eventually Yosemite Valley, would be our new goal.

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