Day 7, Mother Nature takes charge



Packed up and ready to go in the morning. Thank you, beautiful campsite!


This morning, I could have sworn that I detected a very faint scent of woodsmoke in the air as I sat here by the river. It came and went, and the sky was clear, so I forgot about it. But the afternoon lightning now is making me remember it. It’s a worrisome thing, these extra-dry conditions and fire from the sky.

We stopped three times to swim in the river. So incredibly refreshing every time. It was a hot and sweaty uphill climb all day, and the river seemed to get colder the higher we went. But every time, I was ready to start up again, with renewed energy


We left our camp in the early morning. I love the coolness and freshness of the trail before the sun is overhead.


We passed so many great swimming holes, but it was too early and not yet hot enough to want to plunge in.


Some swimming holes weren’t particularly accessible, though they beckoned mightily.


We walked through an area with huge old cedar trees growing beside the river.

The last three days, I have felt occasional hunger. At first, it felt good, but my energy is starting to flag (Barbara’s, too), and I blame some of that on the heat and the climb, and some on the lack of sufficient caloric intake. You live and learn…


As the day warmed, we gave in to temptation and stopped for our first swim. It was short, maybe more of a dunk and a paddle than an actual luxuriating swim, but it did the trick!


Looking back down the canyon from whence we came.


We skipped this one…


The day got hotter and hotter, and the trail wound up and up.

Tomorrow will be a quick 5-mile hike to the van, a dip in the T and a change of clothes, and we will hit the road over Tioga Pass to Highway 395. I need to drop B off at a family lake camp (which I am happy t do—I haven’t had a road trip in a long time).


Our first view of Waterwheel Falls.


Resting above Waterwheel Falls. In this tree, I saw the chickaree.


The view downriver from Waterwheel Falls.


This little guy/gal ignored us as it concentrated on whatever it was eating. The Douglas squirrels/chickarees are the cutest critters!


Th Tuolumne just before it plunges over Waterwheel Falls


We were joined by four hikers above the falls. I snapped this photo and then sent it to them, when I got cell service.



LeConte Falls. Right before we got here, I slipped on the trail and fell, cutting my elbow. We stopped here to doctor it up and wash my shirt. The amount of blood was awesome, and hardly hurt at all!


I got one mosquito bite, right on my forehead over my right eye. Not bad.


“Cloudy in the east, and it looks like rain” more and more as the day progresses.



At this point, I think we were at California Falls, but I can’t say for sure. The entire stretch of the Tuolumne looked like a waterfall, but maybe they are just classified as cataracts. In any case, this shelf had the most exquisite designs in the polished stone from millennia of Spring floodwaters.


See what I mean?



It takes precious little encouragement for wildflowers to grow.


Barbara is feeling good!

There haven’t been many people on the trail today, until we got near Glen Aulin. Then suddenly, here’s the outside world! Everyone is donning masks to pass us on the trail, and there are fewer friendly hikers. Just people hurrying past on some sort of mission or other. We fished out our masks and joined the parade.


This is really great trail-building all up the canyon. My deep gratitude to everyone who made that happen.


Looking back down the canyon, again.


And suddenly, we were alongside a typical Wisconsin canoeing river, except for those telltale cliffs.


I will miss these clean, bright granite expanses.

We enjoyed stops at Waterwheel Falls, LeConte Falls, California Falls, White Cascade, and Tuolumne Falls. They are spectacular, even this late in the season with a tiny fraction of their Spring flow.


Wait a minute…maybe THIS is California Falls?



When we got to Glen Aulin, we were greeted by a little soft, cooling rain. Lovely!


By the time we got to the bridge at Glen Aulin, the sky had cleared and we had stopped for another swim

IMG_53155:27 PM

We are in our tents above Tuolumne Falls, and the rain is coming down. We watched the storm approach for a long time, and it finally arrived. Thunder and lightning about ten miles away, but a really nice downpour. We had set up our tents and just finished dinner when it started.


Tuolumne Falls, and the approaching storm.


Looking east from our campsite right before dinner. Something is happening over there!

Shit! A lightning flash and immediate crack of thunder that made me jump and holler involuntarily. That’s close! But so far, nothing any closer, and no repeats of that surprise.

The sun is shining in under the storm. I had been thinking that the hot air coming up the canyon might keep the storm at bay. And it is, for everyone still down in the canyon. But we are up top at the end of it. Oh, well. A storm like this reminds me who is in charge. It’s really raining now.

Whoa! It’s hailing now! The stones are the size of large green peas, and it’s deafening inside the tent. I am so grateful for this little mobile home.


After the rain stopped, we emerged from our tents and explored the area.


Another beautiful campsite. No harm done by the rain.


I climbed a large smooth granite hill near our camp. The Tuolumne disappears over the lip of its namesake falls right here.


The afore-mentioned granite hill. It looks like a whale or an elephant.


View from the top.


My phone shows 11 miles hiked today, from 2 miles west of Return Creek to here above Glen Aulin. I don’t know how that is, as on the map it looks like it should have been 7 or 8 miles.

As the sun set on our penultimate day in the Sierra, the light kept changing and intensifying, causing me to take too many photos yet again.


One moment, the sky was heavy and gray…


…and the next, it was clear blue skies!



IMG_5344IMG_5345IMG_5348It’s off to bed now, and all I can think about tonight is tomorrow’s breakfast. And the chance to eat a big lunch somewhere on the road.

4 thoughts on “Day 7, Mother Nature takes charge

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful journeys, Laurie. I look forward to them as a kind of mini getaway whenever you post them. (never too many pictures by the way, and I love your dialogue) It all brings back so many fond memories of trips taken so long ago. I really commend you and Barbara for your adventuresome spirit and amazing stamina. I know it’s still somewhere in me too, and maybe another trip is in my future. Thank you again for taking me along virtually. Janna


  2. Ditto Janna Hansen, I completely agree! Like Janna, hopefully I too may revisit this amazing river canyon.

    Laurie, these journal notes are a gift to all of us, thank you for the time and effort in posting them. They are always the first thing I open when a new one arrives.

    The photographs are never too many, and always artfully composed, capturing the mood of the views, and the small details; you are a keen observer. Your words are always rich with feeling, showing your art with words is not limited to writing songs. I particularly appreciated your comments about the traces of ancient people who made their homes in this canyon. I will return to read those again soon.

    And FWIW, I’ve also been confused about which falls is “California Falls”!

    Gary M


  3. I hiked this canyon some 40 years ago and your account brings it all back. That river, those pools….how smart you are to do this. I can feel how much new energy you have now! Thank you for sharing it all.


  4. Laurie, thank you for sharing the beautiful photos and text. I greatly admire you to make such a trip and post it so your friends back east can see the awesomeness of California’s Yosemite.
    I’ll celebrate by drinking a Sierra Nevada ale.

    Liked by 1 person

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