(Written by Bill)
Haven’t posted for a few weeks for two reasons; 1) hard drive was acting up which took a while to resolve, and 2) doing some renovation at home which took most of my time.
Everything is beginning to get back to normal so we would like to share a backpacking trip we took on Fathers day weekend back in 2010 to the Hetch Hetchy Valley (Reservoir), which is a part of Yosemite National Park. John Muir, who devoted most of his time to the preservation of the Western forests, described this valley as “one of nature’s rarest and most precious mountain temples.”
Although Hetch Hetchy was initially protected in 1890 by the establishment of Yosemite National Park (thanks in large part to John Muir for his dedication and persistence), in 1913 the city of San Francisco won congressional approval to build the O’Shaughnessy Dam which buried this extraordinary wilderness valley under 300 feet of water. This reservoir supplies San Francisco, as well as other bay area cities with some of the cleanest purest water in the world.
With this being said, we have posted some photo’s taken during our three day backpacking trip in this breathtaking wilderness.
On day 1 we took off from our trail-head at O’Shaughnessy Dam (3,815′), and hiked up through Beehive Meadow to Lake Vernon (6,564′) where we set up camp for our first night. This was almost all up hill and a moderate to strenuous climb covering about 10 miles, but well worth the effort. Lake Vernon is beautiful.
On day 2 we hiked another 10 miles from Lake Vernon through Tiltill Valley (5,580) and set-up camp (night 2) at Rancheria Falls (4,640′). What a spectacular raging torrent of water roaring down the hillside. Because of the late season heavy snow fall in the sierra’s we had the opportunity to see the falls in all it’s glory.
Our last day would have us hiking above, and parallel to, the reservoir’s banks for most the the day as we headed back to the trail-head (O’Shaughnessy Dam). This was one of the prettiest sections of our hike, giving us dramatic views of the majestic waters not far below and two beautiful peaks on either side of us. Hetch Hetchy Dome (6,197′) on our right and Kolana Rock (5,772′) on our left.
About 3 miles into the days hike we came to Wapama Falls. This particular waterfall comes barreling down the rock face crashing into the boulders just above the reservoir sending water spraying in all directions. The park services built some bridges (wooden and metal structures) that allow hikers to walk through the spray and just above the rapids. It is quite exhilarating, refreshing, and very wet to say the least. I must add that this bridge section can also be very dangerous. Two hikers lost their lives when they were swept off the bridge the weekend following our trip.
After getting through the gauntlet of water at Wapama Falls, we passed under a much smaller Tueeulala Falls shortly before getting back to the Dam (~6.3 miles).
With the first day all up hill and the second day mostly down, down down you can expect some blisters, this is a tough one. Although we did not see any bears, we did receive strong warnings from the Rangers that there was one particular black bear that was so bold, it would come right up to a backpacker and take his/her pack right off their back. You have to think twice about this one!
Hope you enjoy…