Hetch Hetchy and Yosemite, July 7/8, 2011
Whenever possible I go into the wilderness on my birthday. For me it is a time for reflection and gratitude. This time I was on the trail high above Hetch Hetchy Dam. My original goal was not attainable. Extremely high water washing over the bridge at Wampama Falls caused two experienced hikers being washed over the 1000 foot falls, one’s body not yet recovered. Due to this danger the Park Service closed the trail to Rancheria Falls indefinitely, my original destination. Seeing the waters from the distance thundering over 1000 feet into the lake is inspiring, but knowing that two people lost their lives, was very sad.
I lugged my 25 pound pack, tent, sleeping bag, bear canister, food, water filter and extra clothing up 8.7 miles, almost to Lake Vernon, then turned around, and lugged it back down to camp in a dryer area with fewer mosquitoes. But the hike was worth every step.
Beauty around every corner! I had one-way conversations with butterflies, chipmunks, squirrels, dragon flies, marmots, a rattle snake, bees and birds. A canyon wren sang beautifully. A meadow of ferns which grew in a burned area, devastated not too long ago, an entire bird orchestra serenaded me. New life was everywhere! All along the path I admired the diversity of flowers and shrubs. Water ran along some trails, so soaked were the upper meadows, it was impossible to follow the trail and I had to gain elevation to pass. Wood violets framed some trail on both sides. The amount of water was like a miracle. It came out of the granite, dripped, out of rack faces and formed its own biosphere with grasses and ferns not seen elsewhere. Arriving back down at the dam, I was very tired. A young couple from Potsdam( Berlin) were here on vacation and drove my pack and I to my campsite. We shared a picnic before they drove back to the Evergreen Lodge.
No rain threatened and so I was able leave off the cover off my tent and watch stars all during the night. (And maybe see bears foraging, but none did that night…)
Tioga Pass Road to Lee Vining had just opened, so I was able to drive back through what many consider one of the world’s miracles of nature. The road is an engineering marvel, bridging solid granite, rivers, valleys and forests. You can look into the Yosemite Valley and see Half Dome clearly from one of the outlooks. Waterfalls thunder by the wayside, often water spilling over the road. The highland meadows are still more like lakes than meadows. If you can break free, come and see these wonders yourself. In three months the road may be closed again due to snow.