32 Years in 52 Weeks – Hetch Hetchy and Yosemite Valley

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The family had a free weekend, so last Thursday (August 16th 2012) we decided to head north to Hetch Hetchy and stay at Yosemite Creek campground since the only available campground at Hetch Hetchy required a wilderness permit.

We left right after work. Our thinking was we could be in camp by midnight. Well the fates had something else in store for us. There was an accident on the 405 freeway that was blocking all but one lane. By the time we knew what the hold up was we were stuck for the duration. The duration was a 4 hour crawl from the 10 freeway to the 101 freeway on the 405. Needless to say that was not fun and it hampered our plans tremendously but being the people we are we just kept smiling and pushing forward.

We arrived in camp at 5am. Finding an open campground was a fairly large feat, but naturally just as we almost moved on there was a free site right in front of us. We made camp and tried to sleep before going to the Hetch Hetchy trail head. After an hour the noise in the campground woke us up; so we ate breakfast and headed for the dam and trail head.

Hetch Hetchy ReserviorIt was a hot day in the High Sierras and at 5000 feet it was 91 degrees at 10am just as we arrived at the parking lot. It felt like a furnace on high. We geared up, lathered on sunscreen and started walking.

The dam is a feat of engineering, but I kept thinking of what was once under the water. John Muir once said: “These temple-destroyers, devotees of ravaging commercialism, seem to have a perfect contempt for Nature, and instead of lifting their eyes to the God of the mountains, lift them to the Almighty Dollar. Dam Hetch Hetchy! As well dam for water-tanks the people’s cathedrals and churches, for no holier temple has ever been consecrated by the heart of man.” — from The Yosemite (1912). The valley was compared to it’s larger sister Yosemite and was just as beautiful.

After taking photos from the dam we hiked across to the tunnel. Our goal was Wapama Falls, a 5.4 mile round trip hike from the dam. Lisa and I having hiked to Rancheria Creek in the past, were wondering where the falls were as we came out of the tunnel. On our previous hike, the falls were seen from the dam and all along the trail. Today there was nothing, not even a trickle! A mile into the trail we ran into some hikers coming back from the falls. We asked them how they were and they told us they were not there. Not so much as even a water stain!

We sat down and talked as a family and decided to return to the parking lot. It was getting hotter and the bare granite was not very hospitable. We were a little disappointed, but the beauty of Hetch Hetchy takes that feeling away quickly.

Since the waterfall hike was a bust, we had time to tour the Yosemite Valley so we headed south towards the bustling valley. As we got closer, nature put on quite a spectacle for us. Lightening and rainbows were all along the road in. Once in the valley it was raining fairly steadily. The waterfalls in the valley were barely little wisps of water and the steady rain hampered closer inspection.Yosemite Falls

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