We made our way over to Yosemite Lakes to meet up with the Harper’s. Once the kids had figured out exactly where they wanted to sit and in whose car they were going to travel in, we were able to leave. The older boys and Caitlin were in with us and played various games on the handholds, while Mona had the younger three – so cute, three high-back booster seats all in a row; Becca and Nate love to travel in other people’s cars for some reason!
Our destination today was Hetch Hetchy within Yosemite National Park. This section of the park is north of the main valley area and only 1 in every 20 visitors ever makes it to this part. We had hoped that we would find fewer people here; Mona had taken her kids into the valley on Friday and queued for 15 minutes to just make it through the entrance station! We were indeed blessed, there are only a certain number of cars permitted through the entrance at Hetch Hetchy, and we were given a parking pass as they monitor how many vehicles are in this section.
We parked close to the O’Shaughnessy Dam, by the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, and began our hike. A little history: As early as 1882, Hetch Hetchy Valley had been looked at as a potential site for a new reservoir. Preservationists, led by John Muir, wanted the valley to remain untouched. They maintained that a dam could be secured outside ‘our wild mountain parks.’ Muir and his followers launched a campaign to praise the virtues of Hetch Hetchy. For the first time in the American experience, a national audience considered the competing claims of wilderness versus development. Until the early 1900s, Americans viewed wilderness as something to conquer and natural resources as infinite. The priority was civilization in the name of prosperity.
Dam supporters were convinced that a reservoir could offer tremendous social and economic benefits. Due to its increasing population, San Francisco was facing a chronic water and power shortage. In 1906, an earthquake and fire devastated San Francisco, adding urgency and public sympathy to the search for an adequate water supply. Congress passed The Raker Act in 1913 authorizing the construction of a dam in the Hetch Hetchy Valley as well as another dam at Lake Eleanor. Today the 117 billion-gallon reservoir supplies pristine drinking water to 2.4 million Bay Area residents and industrial users. It also supplies hydro-electric power generated by two plants downstream. The reservoir is eight miles long and is the largest single body of water within the national park.
I have to say that the little kids were amazing during the entire hike today, Julia is the youngest, not 5 until September. Many times, she was holding hands with either Becca or Nathan and chatting away, so cute to watch them interacting. We walked almost 6 miles and it certainly was not all flat terrain. Beyond the dam, there were no paved sections, lots of rocks to negotiate on the path, water to cross using stepping stones and plenty of ‘up and down’ areas along the way. The older kids created a ‘game’ on the return hike and barely looked up as they talked all the way back to the dam, Joshua and Jonathan are a year older than and a year younger than Jake. It’s been so wonderful to find friends like these along the journey this year.
We enjoyed the spray from the first waterfall: Tueeulala Falls, however it was nothing compared to the second one: Wapama Falls, there was potential to get quite wet! As the day was fairly warm and sunny, the spray from the falls was most welcome. The bridges provided wonderful views of the waterfall, naturally Dave had to locate other vantage points for photographs by climbing down towards the reservoir and having us position midway. At the end of the hike, he realized that the button on the camera had fallen off, it was still usable but he let me know that its days are numbered and he’s out-growing the camera, the bank account may be slightly less healthy in the next couple of weeks!
Jake went back with Mona to her campground to hang out with the boys and the dogs for an hour. We got pizzas, salad and made apple yummies and enjoyed another meal altogether back at our campground. It took them a little longer to get to our campground than it should have as, according to Jake, “all the roads around here are windy and look the same!” True words, indeed!
The kids played and played, loving the nerf guns and creating all sorts of battle scenarios. It was tough for Jake especially to say goodbye to them all, their family is now headed north into Oregon and then onwards towards Alaska. We’re so excited to hear their Alaskan experiences, definitely on our radar for a future trip. We’re hoping that they’ll be able to stop by PA on their way back to VA in the fall.
States visited: 49!
visited 49 states (98%)
Create your own visited map of The United States
Miles driven so far -
LOOP 1 (Aug 2009 - Aug 2010): 29,000
LOOP 2 (May - August 2012): 10,800
Highest altitude with camper: 11,158ft (I-70, CO)