For our last full day in Yosemite National Park, Danielle and I decided to explore a little bit of the Hetch Hetchy area. It was an area of the park we had yet to check out, as it’s about an hour and a half from the valley-which was where we stayed. We got up early that morning, around 5 am, made breakfast, bought ourselves coffee at the village lodge, and then hit the road for the northwest corner of Yosemite.
We decided to hike to Wapama Falls, which would take us across O'Shaughnessy Dam-the dam that impounds the Tuolumne River-affording us with glorious views of the Hetch Hetchy reservoir. The reservoir supplies all the water for San Francisco, as well as some electricity for the city (a fact I learned from the information displays strewn throughout the dam). All told, the hike wound up being about 5.5 miles round trip, but it was not all that strenuous. However, it was quite warm that day, with temperatures in the 80s, and the trail provided minimal tree coverage during certain intervals. As beautiful as the scenery was, we were swarmed by bugs under tree coverage, and sweated our balls off when exposed to the sun...whomp, whomp. All in all, however, we were feeling good on such a lovely trail, where we hardly saw anyone for most of our hike. If you'd rather avoid the crowds in Yosemite, definitely hit up the Hetch Hetchy and Tuolumne areas of the park. You'll totally see that the crowds thin out once you're out of the Valley.
For most of the hike, the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir was to our right and mammoth rock walls and peaks were to our left. Across the reservoir, Kolana Rock stood tall and towering. The water in the reservoir was a crystal-clear blue, a beautiful color to behold. Even though individuals are prohibited from swimming in the reservoir, the glistening water continuously beckoned me to dive right in for much of the hike. Between the color of the water in the reservoir, as well as the color of the rock walls that surrounded us, Danielle and I both felt like we were in another country. I kept saying I thought I was in Greece (the scenery just reminded me of images of Greece I’ve seen in the past).
Once at the falls, we decided to eat our PB&J’s right at the base of the creek that the falls fed into, which was utterly refreshing since mist from the falls helped cool us down as we ate. It was a blissful way to enjoy a PB&J on a warm, September afternoon.
We ate our lunch, relaxed for a little, took in the scenery, and snapped some photos before making our way back to the trailhead. As we worked our way back to the car, Danielle saw a rattlesnake slither across the trail and into the brush. I, however, was not quick enough to see it...bummer. That's twice I've missed out on seeing a rattler on a trail. Third time will hopefully be a charm.
We eventually found ourselves back in the Valley, where we made an unplanned stop at the Majestic Hotel, which, as the name suggests, is majestic as fuck. We got some cocktails, hung out in a patio area, and got a nice little buzz going. Afterwards, as we were heading back to camp, we saw that the road to Glacier Point had been reopened! Prior to us arriving at the park, a pretty bad fire had broken out throughout that area of Yosemite. Throughout our entire stay, smoke choked the valley floor each morning, and the road leading to Glacier Point was closed due to these intense fires. Even as the road had reopened and much of the fires had been extinguished, as we drove towards Glacier Point, we saw small fires that the NPS fire service were still combating. Along the way, we stopped a few time to take some photos, but made it to Glacier Point in about an hour, and, man, was the drive worth it. The view at Glacier Point was out of control...it was utterly gorgeous. From Glacier Point, you could see North Dome, Half Dome, plus a slew of other peaks and mountains. I was astounded by the view, even if we were surrounded by a crowd that felt like vultures descending upon carrion. Afterwards, we drove back to the village, got insanely delicious cheese burgers and fries for dinner-especially when we had been eating the same meals over and over-which was so welcoming and felt like a godsend. As our last full day Yosemite, it wound up being a god damn jam-packed and adventurous time.