Wildflower Walls and Butterfly Barricades

9 July 2013 in Memories, Trails/Hiking, Traveling, Yosemite National Park

Tueeulala Falls, Hetch Hetchy, Yosemite National ParkA couple of weeks back we attempted a hike to Rancheria Falls. A seemingly achievable feat at just six and a half miles one way, but this was before we came across our first bear of the season. This can be read about in a past blog, but to summarize things we were unsure of the maturity of the bear and weary of the possibility of an overbearing mother (no pun intended) and so we had turned back.

With few prospects for day hikes outside of the another trip to the valley we crossed the damned dam of Hetch Hetchy Reservoir once again, past Wapama Falls and the falls that precedes it with the difficult to remember name, making our way to “Bear Meadow” as it would now be affectionately known. This time our only barriers were the swarms of fluttering butterflies dancing dangerously at our feet and the alluring scent of brightly colored wildflowers blooming along the sides of the trail. It was also a little more harrowing crossing the bridge below Wapama Falls today. Apparently the snow was melting at a more rapid pace today and the falls gushed over the bridge clipping at our feet and spraying our bodies. With the hot sun rising this was all very refreshing.

As we approached Bear Meadow our senses heightened. Our ears were keen to the rustle of a squirrel in the bushes and our eyes darted around cautiously surveying the area for movement. The likelihood of another encounter in the exact same spot seemed to be infinitesimal, but we were still on edge. Thankfully this time the gatekeeper of the meadow was out and we were permitted to pass.

Up and down and all around we wandered the trail that was at times almost overgrown with the sprouts of spring that had yet to meet the crowds of hikers summer would bring. Then the path opened up to the barren landscape of exposed granite. Shrubs, and dwarfed trees dotted the hillside along with the remnants of those who had thrived long years only to parish in fire, lightning or old age. It was an unforgiving scrap of land, but beautiful. The faintest fuzz of a falls beckoned us on.

Rancheria Falls, Hetch Hetchy, Yosemite National ParkFinally after rounding and ascending a bend we spotted Rancheria Falls. With a couple hours and a handful of miles between us and breakfast I think I was almost as excited to eat lunch as I was to arrive at our destination. I promptly scrambled down the bank of boulders and onto a large slab of rock directly across from the falls. Lindsay soon followed and here we had our sandwiches and trail mix. After eating we laid back and soaked in the afternoon sun while the water roared a pleasant hum in front of us. Then we wandered down to the water’s edge to explore and then soak our trail tattered feet.

Rancheria Falls, Hetch Hetchy, Yosemite National ParkAfter an hour or so, feeling refreshed, we climbed back up to the trail and began our trek back. Shortly after we were overcome by CCC (California Conservation Core) trail workers. Wearing full length pants and shirts, toting packed day packs and heavy tools they stomped past us leaving a trail of dust. I was a little taken back by their pace. Here I was in shorts and a t-shirt, having just spent an hour leisurely sunning myself and I couldn’t keep up with these guys and gals. I think I’m in decent shape and have the legs of an avid hiker/runner, but I couldn’t hold a candle to these folks. They’d blow it out as they flew past me.

Eventually, after having been passed by several of the CCC we made it back to the truck. On our way back we stopped into the Evergreen Lodge for a beer and then headed home.

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