Weather in the Foothills

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy…”
– John Muir speaking of Yosemite

Last week we left a very cold La Crescenta for an even colder Yosemite National Park. Sunday morning, the temperature was 8 degrees at Yosemite Chapel. Quite honestly, upon arriving home it felt just as cold at a windy 35 degrees. As always, it’s good to be back to the foothills. Although the winds continued to blow, daytime temperatures climbed into the 70s as the week progressed.

We stayed at a lodge on the Merced River in Yosemite. Just outside our cozy, warm room, water splashed over the huge snow-covered boulders. Inside, Abby, hearing the roar of the river, couldn’t wait to get her little retriever paws wet. So our dog-led trek began. Layered with thermal, sweater, fleece and down jacket, I bravely accompanied the party.

“Doug, I don’t think we should let the dog climb down to the river! If she falls in, you get to go in after her.” He is trained in swift-water rescue, so he is qualified.

“What? I can’t hear you, the river is too loud!” was his response as Abby clamored over remnants of Half-Dome scattered in the riverbed. Needless to say, no rescue was needed. But with wet paws and temperatures well below freezing, ice forms between dog-toes. Ouch! After a quick paw-thaw, we continued on our walk. A new adventure awaits…

The lodge has a café and the path we were on took us past its dumpster. Our retriever quickly turned hound as her nose took control. The resident caretaker laughed as we tried to pull Abby away.

“She’s smellin’ our bear,” he explained. “We have our own black bear that comes down off the mountain every night, crosses the highway, and breaks into the dumpster. He takes off with a trash bag filled with leftover food and such.

“Every few weeks, the National Park Service calls to tell us to go clean up our bear’s trash he leaves behind, up on the mountain. You know the funny thing is, one year we had too much  rainbow trout. So we put it out, but that crazy bear only took the left over pizza!”

Sound familiar? Meatballs, pizza …

Hibernation. Time to settle down for a long winter’s nap. A yawning bear in a nightshirt and cap comes to mind. The term “seasonal lethargy” is often used to describe a black bear’s hibernation. Depending on their location, weather and access to enticing food (especially Italian!), length and depth of sleep can vary. Not even a bear wants to miss out on a “good time!”

A warm ridge of high pressure has settled over SW California. Clear skies and gusty winds will accompany warmer temperatures. Highs in the 70s with lows in the 40s are forecast. But keep those umbrellas ready – February is our rainy month. Enjoy the sunshine!

Sue Kilpatrick is a
Crescenta Valley resident and
Official Skywarn Spotter for the
National Weather Service. Reach her at