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Wildflowers At Hetch Hetchy

Katie knew that she would be sore in the morning so she insisted that I go on a hike without her in the morning and that we would do a short hike in the afternoon. With her recommendation, I decided to do Nevada Falls, one of the waterfalls on the Southeast end of Yosemite Village. I woke up at 6, parked at 7, and after a 3/4 mile walk, I made it to the trailhead (parking here sucks...). There aren't that many people who start hikes here early, so there were only a handful of people on the trail with me. This trail comes close to Vernal Falls, so close that the mist coming off the falls soaks you completely. That was pretty fun although since I started early it was still a little cold and being wet wasn't all that nice. But I knew that was coming so I was prepared at least with a water-resistant jacket and a waterproof bag for my camera. The section where you get soaked by Vernal Falls is a steep stair section that's hard to do fast, but you go fast anyway to try and get out of the water. But despite that, Vernal Falls was absolutely gorgeous with mossy rocks beside it and rainbows from the mist. It reminded me a lot of the waterfalls in Iceland both in the scenery around it and the size of the waterfalls themselves.

Nevada Falls wasn't too much further and it was gorgeous at the top. There weren't great views of Nevada Falls itself, but since you were up high you could see a lot of the surrounding area, including seeing Sentinal Dome which we hiked the day prior. On the way back, I decided I wanted to make it a short loop and started hiking back down the way I didn't come up. About a quarter-mile into the descent, I came across a trail closed sign and had to turn around. Apparently earlier that morning there was a rock slide large enough to close the trail which was a bummer because that trail would have taken me right through Clark Point, which felt kinda like a right of passage for me. But oh well.

When I made it back to Vernal Falls around 10:30 am, there were tons of people there. It was packed full of people which made it hard to descend on the steep staircase that was barely wide enough to pass people on. The amount of people was a bummer, but most of them didn't continue on to Nevada Falls so at least I have that mostly for myself.

Including the detour on the trail that ended up being closed and the walk from the parking lot to the trailhead, the hike was just under 9 miles and 2,500 feet in elevation gain. That is a tough hike by all accounts but it was a fun one. I made it back to the Airbnb at 1 pm where Katie and I grilled some hot dogs and veggies before heading out for our afternoon activity.

In the afternoon, we went to Hetch Hetchy Reservoir which was in a different area of the park. The scenery wasn't all that special, however, there were two things to note on the hike. First, the hike went through a tunnel which was awesome. We don't hike through many tunnels. Second, the area was packed full of wildflowers. We found some wildflowers we hadn't seen in the main Yosinety Village area of the park and spent quite a bit of time photographing them.

The hike we were following at Hetch Hetchy was the hike to the waterfall, but we didn't make it all the way because we didn't want to push Katie's ankle too hard. I think we did just enough for her to strengthen it a little more without setting her back, but time will tell.

In an effort to get good photos of the Harlequin Lupine, we stopped on the side of the road on the way out of Hetch Hetchy where we found a few really nice patches of them. This wildflower was the star of the hike because of its bright multi-coloredness. Those Lupines are native only to Yosemite, so it was special to find a wildflower that we wouldn't see elsewhere.

We then drove into Yosimety propper for some sunset photos. Sunset (and sunrise for that matter) don't seem to be that great here. Maybe a different time of year (when the sun is rising/setting in different spots) would be better, but you don't get the good golden lighting on the mountain faces that you would expect. I think some of this is because of the smog, but some of it is also just the geography of where the interesting things sit (which go into shadow or you can't get a good view of just that).

Trailhead Location
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11.51 mi 6.3 hrs 6,238 ft 2,920 ft
View Graphs
Flowing Water
Top of Vernal Falls
Rainbow at Vernal Falls
Top of Nevada Falls
Falling Water
On the Ledge
One Last Selfie at Nevada Falls
Back to Vernal Falls
Hetch Hetchy
Through the Tunnel
Elegant Cluster Lilly
Fields of Flowers
Purple Owl
White Meadowfoam
Back Through the Tunnel
Hetch Hetchy Survey Marker
Harlequin Lupine
Seed Pods
Another Sunset
Cascade Glade