Details: Hetch Hetchy, Yosemite
Trail Head At: Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, Rancheria Falls Trailhead
Length: 20 Miles (f**k me)
Elevation Gain: 2100 Feet
Okay guys, this hike was unbelievably beautiful. In fact, the more I think about it, (and the more time I have had to recover) the more impressed I am with the landscape. It was full of cascading waterfalls, lush alpine meadows filled with wildflowers, those sharp granite cliffs Yosemite is famous for and epic views of the glittering reservoir.
A little background about Hetch Hetchy – this area is part of Yosemite, north of Yosemite Valley. So, it boasts less crowds then the valley, a quicker drive from the Bay Area and the same gob smackingly beautiful scenery.
This trail is quite dreamy. You spend about seven miles of the hike winding along the gorgeous, sprawling, reservoir. We noticed almost non stop evidence of bears, but unfortunately did not have any sightings this trip.
It was also an absolute bitch. We hiked 20 miles total in two days, with plenty of steep switch backs, mosquitoes and very little shade. The last day was definitely the most difficult. At one point in the hike, on our return trip home, I really thought we might just die there on the trail.
We took a break at Rancheria Falls for lunch and it was the most epic lunch spot, with the waterfalls cascading down the silvery granite rocks to the green pools below.
The first campsites are located in the forest near Rancheria Falls, so you could end your hike there but we decided to trek on to the Tiltill Valley, because Brad had camped there on a previous trip and said it was pretty spectacular.
So, there were two difficult parts to this hike:
- THE SWITCHBACKS
- THE BOG
After about a mile plus of steep switchbacks, we arrived at the Tiltill Valley (yesssss). Then had about a mile left to go through straight up bog. I’m talking balancing on rocks and water submerged logs, Brad on one end, me on the other, as we tried to avoid falling in the sludgy, muddy, foot deep water. Bugs were swarming in clouds, mosquitoes were biting and I had to hardcore compartmentalize because if I hadn’t mentioned it before, I am terrified of snakes, and it was 100% Snake City. I did see one slithering away into the high grass, but just for a moment. (Insert mind exploding).
But, after we had had slogged through, we were rewarded with this magnificent, beckoning, view.
And Look at Our Campsite:
This was very convenient for getting water. Brad even went for a swim! Per usual, I need the weather to be a little warmer for submerging in that frigid water. I love hearing the rushing water as we fell asleep in our tent.
We loved falling asleep to the sounds of an owl hooting in the tree, as the glittering stars filled the ink black sky.
The Trip Back:
We woke up pretty early, sipped our steaming coffee and ate our breakfast bars while watching deer graze in the meadow. We packed up our campsite, squared our shoulders and set off for the bog.
When we finally finished the hike we got home around 8pm, and collapsed on the couch with a Trader Joe’s pesto veggie pizza and wine. We, (well I) was sunburned to the nines, covered in bites, and parts of me hurt that I didn’t even know existed, but we made it! And it really was an epically gorgeous hike. Next time, I would recommend planning three days for this trip, so that you have a day in between to enjoy the surrounding, relax and recover before the 10 mile trek back. Also – bring Deet. Ours hadn’t arrived yet from Amazon, and we figured we could make it. MISTAKE.
Next up on the hiking blog: Three days at Velma Lakes in Desolation Wilderness Tahoe!