Hiking around Hetch Hetchy

When Yosemite's Hetch Hetchy Valley is restored, many visitors will want to "stand waist deep in wildflowers", as John Muir once did. Some will want to explore the banks of the Tuolumne River as it flows across the serene valley floor.

 

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Looking east from Pate Valley into the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne (Photos: Roger Williams) 

When Yosemite's Hetch Hetchy Valley is restored, many visitors will want to "stand waist deep in wildflowers", as John Muir once did. Some will want to explore the banks of the Tuolumne River as it flows across the serene valley floor.

Rock climbers, no doubt, will be scaling Kolana Rock and Hetch Hetchy Dome, as well as many of the other granite walls which surround the valley.

Hikers will wander beyond the valley floor, exploring places like Rancheria Creek, Tiltill Valley, Pate Valley and the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne.

Some of these activities are possible today, but access is challenging at best. Most day hikes must begin by walking around the reservoir on the hotter, south facing side of the canyon. While other parts of Yosemite are open 24 hours a day, Hetch Hetchy has limited visiting hours which make it impossible to enjoy the landscape during the soft glow of twilight. Consequently few day hikers get past Wapama Falls and most rock climbers do not come to Hetch Hetchy at all.

When Hetch Hetchy is restored, much will change. Rancheria Falls, currently a tough day's hike, would be a hop, skip and a jump if it were possible to start by strolling across the valley. Tiltill Valley would be a day hike for many, rather than a backpack trip. A trip to Pate Valley might be a single day up the spectacular Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne, rather than be an arduous 4 day trek around Rancheria Mountain.  

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Roger's route from the dam to White Wolf

Because of the reservoir, today's backpackers in the Hetch Hetchy area need to work a little harder to get their rewards. They are allowed to camp overnight near the O'Shaughnessy Dam, however, so they can get an early start and avoid the summer heat on the first part of the trail.

Restore Hetch Hetchy's Board Chair, Roger Williams and some of his friends, just returned from a week-long "near-epic" trip, beginning at the dam and ending at White Wolf - see map. He offered to share pictures from his trip - places we would all like to visit. See below, click any photo to enlarge or visit our Flickr page to see them all and a few more. 

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Piute Mountain

 

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Rancheria Falls

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Looking down Rancheria Creek into Hetch Hetchy

 

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Kolana Rock

 

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Rancheria Creek

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Tuolumne River in Pate Valley

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Trail to Pleasant Valley

Roger's pictures remind us that restoration of Hetch Hetchy will not only bring back the valley, but will also make the surrounding area far more accessible.