Friday, September 1, 2017

Looking for John Muir's Ghost in Hetch Hetchy

On the last day of August, 2017, joined the University of the Pacific's Special Collection's one-day expedition to find and photograph John Muir's sketch sites during his 1895 visit to Hetch Hetchy. But, in the intervening 122 years since Muir's visit, his beloved "Hetch Hetchy Yosemite" has been inundated by the City of San Francisco's O'Shaughnessy Dam and Reservoir, which was finished in 1923. Muir and his Sierra Club fought unsuccessfully for over ten years to stop this invasion of Yosemite National Park and he died soon after the dam was authorized by Congress. We did our best to imagine Muir's "sauntering" route and camping spots which are now covered by a few hundred feet of water.

The day began with smoke from various California forest fires and the temperature was well above 90 degrees Fahrenheit during our five-mile round trip. But, at the foot of Wapama Falls we were rewarded with the discovery of perhaps the exact flat promontory rock where Muir sketched in mid-August, 1895 a scene looking toward what is now the dam.

Note: If you click an image they enlarge and you can scroll through the images.

Our Muir research expedition team with a copy of Muir's drawing made from this spot
My rephotograph of Muir's 1895 sketch view

Entrance Station Welcome
Looking up Hetch Hetchy Valley toward Kolana Rock from the entrance road

Up canyon from the dam

Down canyon from the dam

The trail begins with a tunnel after crossing the dam

Panorama from the foot of Wapama Falls

John Muir's Ghost at the Iron Door Saloon in Groveland

University of Pacific's Special Collections staff discovering Muir's Ghost

Photo of Muir taken at end of his August 1895 saunter from Tuolumne Meadows down to Hetch Hetchy [hanging in Iron Door Saloon]

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