Monday, June 27, 2016

Exploring Yosemite's Upper Tenaya Canyon Cascade

In June 2016 I followed Tenaya Creek as it left Tenaya Lake and flows toward Yosemite Valley. My goal was to find the Upper Tenaya Canyon Cascade at full flow and to locate one of John Muir's journal sketch sites (which I found). Pywiack Cascade, below the cascade I was seeking, is too dangerous to approach. But the first cascade is not if approached via the saddle to the east of the creek. I followed Jeffrey Schaffer's advice in his "Yosemite National Park Hikers' Guide."

The three-hour round-trip hike was well worth the effort. Enjoy the photographs!

Relaxing at Ouzel Camp in Yosemite's Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River

I solo hiked for three days in Yosemite's Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne and gave myself the blessed gift of a "layover" day of rest and recreation at John Muir's Hurrah Cascade. I named this camp "Ouzel Camp" in honor of Muir's favorite bird, the elusive American Dipper. I no sooner scouted out this glacially-polished granite outcrop with a view and roar of Muir's Hurrah Cascade, then an ouzel flew right over me on its way to feed in the singing waters. In the three days I camped here I saw the busy pair of ouzels flying back and forth between foraging under the river's waters for aquatic insects and their nest right under the cascade.

I'll be returning here each June to watch the ouzels, sleep with the "roar and 'ah"" of the cascade, enjoy the rainbows in the mists, study the ways of the deer, swim in the shallows, and put my bare feet in the warm granite sand.

Tuolumne River Baptism at Waterwheel Falls

In June 2016 I day-hiked from my "Ouzel Camp" at John Muir's "Hurrah Cascade" in Yosemite's Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne to Waterwheel Falls. My goal was to re-photograph a sketch Muir made of the "waterwheel" of Waterwheel Falls. I also wanted to re-photograph an image Ansel Adams made from the same viewpoint.

The trail is far removed from the falls so I carefully negotiated the steep and slick glacially-polished granite slopes leading to the shelf that creates the huge cart-wheeling upthrust of the main flow of the Tuolumne River that is called the "waterwheel."

I don't know how Adams made it down the slope with his huge view camera and tripod. I carefully, and with some trepidation, approached the roaring waterwheel and wedged myself into the same rocks that appear in Adams' photo (with a few new ones that have rolled down in the intervening decades). My "selfies" show my emotional transition from initial fear and endurance to elation at being "baptized" by the roaring Tuolumne.

Note: I can't post either Muir's sketch or Adams' photograph due to copyright restrictions.

Down the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River

In June 2016 I, I solo back-packed for four days down the Tuolumne River from Tuolumne Meadows to Waterwheel Falls and return. I was completing my photography for my forthcoming book, "Following John Muir into Wild Yosemite." Enjoy these images of this fabulous part of Yosemite!