4 Days in May 2008
19 Miles point in and out
Tom Harrison Map: Hetch Hetchy Trail Map Grids 60-62 & 10-11 Below Moraine Ridge
Hetch Hetchy Backpacker's Overnight Campsite. $5 per person. Approximately 10 sites available. Just below the backpacker's parking lot. Parking lot has 10 or so bear boxes and bathrooms with running water.
Night Time View of the Tunnel at North Side of O'Shaughnessy Dam with Bats. At the end of this tunnel is the trail head.
View of the Dam & Hetch Hetchy Reservoir with Tueeulala Falls. The Falls is a very popular day hiking destination that is only two miles from the parking lot. Wapama Falls is a half a mile beyond Tueelala Falls along the way to Rancheria Falls on the East End of the Reservoir. Another popular backpacking destination that is approximate 7 miles from the trail head and follows the edge of the reservoir with little elevation gain or loss. Parking lot in view is for the day hikers.
View of the Top of the Dam. Elevation: 3815 ft. Note: at the end of the Dam is the Entrance to the Tunnel from previous night time photo.
1.0 Mile NE from the Dam take switchbacks 1.8 miles NW leaving Hetch Hetchy behind. Head toward Beehive. Elevation starts at 4050 ft. to 5200 ft. at the top of the switchbacks.
Looking Back at O'Shaughnessy Dam. Note: Very low water line due to years of drought. This dam is the water supply for San Francisco, which is some 5 hours away by car.
Look East at Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. Rancheria Campsite is located at the far end of the Reservoir.
Top of the Switchback. Elevation 5200 ft. There is an intersection here. Continue North towards Beehive. Note: In winter time to spring time snow can be found here. Heading East 2.8 Miles from here takes you to Miguel Meadow. 6.6 Miles away is Lake Eleanor.
View SE from way above the Reservoir with touches of snow in on top of peaks.
Typical trail Conditions.
Approximately 2.0 miles from top of switchbacks an unnamed pond on the map, which we have dubbed Frog Pond. I believe that this is a year round water source. Point of interest: this is where I first used/tested my Sawyer Water/Gravity Filter after friend's MSR filter clogged and failed, leaving us with no other option than to use the Sawyer filter. (See my review of the Sawyer Filter for more details of what happened on another trip here).
Just past Frog Pond is a burned area from a fire in 2006.
Patches of Snow at about 6400 ft. covering the trail on the way to Beehive. Beehive elevation is 6540 ft. Note: Beehive has a reliable year round spring/water source. The remaining part of the trail is dry to Lake Vernon. Approximately 3.8 miles to Lake Vernon.
After Beehive the snow is gone. Being on a Northern slope, it is partially protected from the sun, slowing the melting process. Beyond Beehive the trail is gaining elevation and is open and more exposed to the sun. In this case, trails are partially swamped.
This is the highest point on the trail at 6960 ft. Lake Vernon is in a bowl of granite. Much of the trail here is marked only with cairns/rock piles.
End of the expanse of granite. SW edge of Lake Vernon. Note: There are no established campsites. The trail runs along the Northern side of the Lake and is where most people will camp. There are a few sites on the far NE end of the Lake.
First View of the Lake from the Northern Shore. Most sites to camp here are a short distance from the water's edge and are elevated on a granite shelf. Some parts of the granite shelf go right up to he water's edge and are located early on at the Western end of the Lake. Note: Notice at there is a large patch of snow in the photo. Perhaps one week prior to this trip, this whole area may have been covered in snow.
Jeff & Scott Kicking Back at the Eastern End of Lake Vernon. Note: We found his an easy place to fill our 4 Liter Platypus bags and enjoy the breeze coming off the Lake.
Jeff's Double Rainbow Tarptent
Tony's Mountain Laurel Designs eVent Soul Side Zip Bivy. Here is am using my poles, held in place with rocks sandwiching the baskets, to guy line out the hood of the bivy to give me more interior head room.
Dinner Time. Notice the bear canisters that are required when you backpack in Yosemite.
View from our campsite of the Lake. Lake Vernon Elevation: 6564 ft.
Beating Back the Chill
Drying out our Bags. Massive Condensation inside the Tarptent and MLD Bivy. Believe it was an issue of dew point. Snow may have only recently melted a few days before we arrived. Blue bag is Marmot 15 degree Helium EQ. Other bags are Montbell designs. Orange Prolite 4 Thermarest. Black air mattress is an Exped Down Mat 7.
Give us this day our daily coffee. Jeff using his coffee press.
Heading North East from Lake Vernon up Falls Creek.
Following the trail North East from Lake Vernon to the end is a Trail Crew Shelter for Winter Use. Note: Trail Effective ends here.
Following the Trail through the trees NE direction, we broke out of the trees to a large expanse of granite.
Heading North, up the expanse of Rock, looking back at Lake Vernon you can see snow on the slopes.
Snow Dusted Granite
View of Falls Creek
Slick Water Slide with Moraine Ridge in the Distance
Down By the Creek
Sheets of Water
Ripples of Water
River of Whiteness
Force of Water
Scott by the Water's Edge (Scale Reference)
Rounding the Corner
Jeff Between Shots
Wall of Water
Scott by the Edge
Jeff Getting the Shot
White Water Highway
Green Water Rapids
Following Falls Creek Upstream, we found a site that would make a great campsite on the West Side of the Creek.
Looking East Across the Creek
This is as far as we could go up the Creek. At this point, the rock drops off over 20 ft down into a pool of water at the base of the Water Fall. Heading West and back tracking a bit, we might have found a way to continue on.
Heading Back Across the Expanse of Granite
Here you can see that the Creek drops far below the expanse of granite. Along this part of the creek we were often sprayed with a light mist from the crashing water.
Looking Back up the Creek
The View Below Us
Jumping back to the SW end of Vernon, there is a junction at 6580 ft just before you reach the lake. The trail heads East out of the granite bowl, above Lake Vernon, and then decends South to Tiltill Valley. From Tiltill Valley you can then travel South to Rancheria Falls and campsite. From here, you can return to the Dam by going East along the edge of Hetch Hetchy Reservoir make the trip into a 40 mile loop. Note: As of 2006, when we did this loop, the trail down to Tiltill Valley was heavily grown over. A little bit of a bush wack, but with a visible trail at your feet. That section of the trail is dry and exposed to the sun.
Bridge Crossing the Falls Creek. Water here has exited the SW End of Lake Vernon and is the water that feeds the Wapama Falls at Hetch Hetchy Resevoir.
View from the Bridge
Down Stream from the Bridge, looking back up towards the Bridge. Great place to go for a short walk from the lake.
View Upstream from the Bridge
Sleeping on the Rock
Last Morning. Note: On the tree is my Jam2 pack and Sawyer Gravity Filter.
Breaking Down Camp
Last view of Lake Vernon on the way out
Nice View of Hetch Hetchy Looking Eastward
Gazing down at the Dam
Misc. Photos from May 2007
Rained & Snowed On
Frog Pond. Was trying to get to Lake Vernon, but we did not expect snow. My wife fell on the first day and injured her leg. At one point, the snow got near waist deep and we retreated to Frog Pond for a chilly night with wet boots and gloves. Luckily, we were able to make a fire.
IF YOU HAVE ANY PHOTOS FROM TRIPS THAT YOU HAVE TAKEN IN THIS AREA, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO POST THEM UP ON THIS THREAD...THEY ARE MUCH APPRECIATED!
Other photo essays by Tony:
BPLer's GGG: San Francisco Bay Area, CA.; Mt. Diablo
BPLer's GGG: Yosemite: Hetch Hetchy Resevior to Rancheria Falls
BPLer's GGG: Point Reyes, CA
High Sierra trail to Mt. Whitney
Yosemite: Glacier Point to Red Peak Pass to Lake Merced
Yosemite in Winter: Crocker Point & Dewey Point
Yosemite: Lake Vernon & Hetch Hetchy Reservoir
Yosemite: Tenaya Creek