Type Two Fun: A Trip Report On Hetch Hetchy in Yosemite National Park


A Three-Day Solo Backpacking Trip Report of Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park

Ambassador Rachel McCullough gives us a trip report through the stunning Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park.

Gear List from TMS:

  • Osprey Renn pack
  • Sawyer squeeze filter
  • Leki 3 part trekking poles
  • Bear Vault bear canister

Never have I pondered the meaning of the word “several” for so long. The trail report said there were several trees down in the area. “What’s several?” I pondered as I climbed over downed trees so girthy that I could barely scale them in their supine state. And skirted around others guarded by thorny shrubs with overly fragrant flowers. And climbed over again. Hiking pole over first. Then one leg. Then gingerly coax the weight of my pack over the tree. Other leg. Other pole. And jump!

I told myself I was used to the rhythm of it all. That it was part of being out in nature. That it was part of enjoying the privilege of being able to disconnect and leave my work behind for a full 3 days of no cell phone service. And I was content.

That’s why I eagerly selected the scenic route between two lakes at my next decision point. And then, in no time, I wasn’t content any longer. I found these not-so-gentle giant trees resting on their sides in the muck around a creek crossing. They were obscuring any semblance of a trail, which was slight to begin with on the “scenic route”. I started climbing over. My feet got wetter with each creek bed landing.

The wonderment of “what’s several?” was gone. I stopped wondering. Now I demanded. Who wrote this trail report and have they even been here? Has it been several yet? How many is several? I think I’m way beyond several and on to numerous. Is there a better word? Google would know but I’m left to my own devices without cell phone service.

Ninety minutes later I somehow emerged from the creek bed. On a trail! And then there were people! Who said “Hey, you survived too.” I realized that it wasn’t just me out there struggling.  It was a difficult section. And this party had also been “lost” in there too. Most amazing was that we never saw each other in there.

I told them I had enough and was going to circle back to my tent the non-scenic way; that I’d had enough of my snail’s pace. That I’d call it a day wandering around in a creek bed and just forget about making it to the next lake for a swim.

I’m glad they encouraged me to continue with the promise of better conditions ahead and soon I embarked on the most scenic part of the entire hike, the flailing in the creek bed over and easily forgotten.

Here are some photos of my solo backpacking adventure, including glorious lakes, salamanders, granite expanses, and of course, downed trees.

Day 1: From Hetch Hetchy to Laurel Lake

The trailhead at Hetch Hetchy

Hetchy Hetch
Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, the drinking water source for San Francisco. Hetch Hetchy is a sister valley to Yosemite, granite walls, waterfalls, and all.
Hetch Hetchy
The trail goes through some of the granite at the end of the dam, before it starts to climb out of the valley.
Hetch Hetchy Trip Report
Hetch Hetchy
Hetch Hetchy
Hetch Hetchy
Flowers galore.
Hetch Hetchy
My campsite at Laurel Lake.
Hetch Hetchy
Not a bad spot for a meal.
Hetch Hetchy
Perfect place for a break and swim. That’s my Ospery Renn pack on its maiden voyage.

Day 2

Downed Trees
Hetch Hetchy
Just “several” downed trees on the “trail.”
Hetch Hetchy
The granite expanses that made me forget the “several downed trees”.
Hetch Hetchy
My Day 2 destination, Lake Vernon.

Day 3

Hetch Hetchy
The mosquitoes and eye flies won. I put on my headnet for what unfortunately wouldn’t be the last time this season.
Hetch Hetchy
Success!

If you are interested in visiting Hetch Hetchy Yosemite National Park, be sure to check their current restrictions here.

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