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Bridalveil Falls, Yosemite National Park

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Re: Indian Canyon Decent - 1972

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Indian Canyon Decent - 1972
June 25, 2018 06:30PM
As I enter my 66th year, I am curious about an experience I had when 19 in the late spring of 1972. It started out as a day hike in Yosemite Valley that started at Mirror Lake. We had camped at Camp 4, and after partying late into the night, left later than we might have. We hiked up the trail, made a left turn up the wall paralleling Snow Creek, walked up and around Indian Rock down to North Dome. We thought we'd make it over to the Yosemite Falls Trail back down to the valley floor before dark.

Best Laid Plans...

We got to Indian Canyon Creek and realized there was no way we would make it to the Falls trail and down to the valley before dark. We were carrying minimal dayhike gear, and knew we didn't want to spend the night in the high country. I remember the decision point where we had to choose to go down Indian Canyon in a desperate attempt to get down before dark, or start thinking about finding good duff and spending an uncomfortable night.

We were young and stupid and chose to hike the faint use trail that paralleled Indian Canyon Creek down Indian Canyon (I think I have the names right). The map showed we'd end up behind Yosemite Village - what turned out to be the Village Store.

I think now I'd hole up and suffer a miserable night. The thought of climbing down the 3000' canyon wall on a faint, obviously abandoned trail, with the almost certain threat of darkness at the end of the descent to the valley floor now has me shake with the willies. Knowing what I know now about that descent makes this a certainty.

I don't remember most of the hike, other than it required use of our hands as well as feet, and bodies in a couple places. But what sticks out the most in this 47 year old memory, is the 1" wire cable with two 1/2" wire hand cables that hung above the canyon at one point. We had to walk down the cable, holding on, for a couple hundred yards. The bridge spanned an incredibly steep boulder field - boulders the size of small houses, all resting at the "angle of repose." The walk down the bridge was completely done in faith. It was pretty obvious that this way to get from the rim to the valley had been abandoned decades ago. The forest service had abandoned the trail in place, which included the bridge.

My memory is that this couple hundred yard bridge was at nearly 45 degrees. That could be faulty. I remember not looking down after doing so once and feeling my inner ear give way - I have a mild case of vertigo - and just putting one foot down and then moving my hands, then the next foot, and moving my hands, one at a time. My guess is that the bridge was never more than 100' over the canyon floor, but that was enough...

We made it to the valley floor right at darkness - dusk was 45 minutes earlier. I remember the palpable relief at reaching civilization, and needing to focus on the next task - hitching back to Camp 4.

I'm wondering - is the cable bridge still there???

Re: Indian Canyon Decent - 1972
June 25, 2018 07:18PM
There are several posts on this website about the old Indian Canyon trail, including:


This trail was built in an era long before steel cables and such. It also stays far away from the creek and isn't in an obvious place if you're just trying to go down the creek without prior knowledge. (And, it's also not very much fun to go down as you're running out of light (been there, done that...) )

But, what you are describing is almost certainly the service "trail" for the phone lines that head from Yosemite Valley to the Tioga Road corridor. You can see markers for the buried junction boxes along the trail from the Porcupine Creek (North Dome) trailhead and the Lehamite/North Rim trail junction. As for whether or not this "trail" still exists, the phone lines were taken out by a rockslide a few seasons ago...

FWIW, there is a similar set of phone cables along the also-abandoned Ledge Trail, and you also see the cable crossing the trail in the final stretches of the Four Mile Trail just before the final brief climb to the snack stand. Also, you can find phone junction boxes along the old Tioga Road between Yosemite Creek and Porcupine Creek campground.
avatar Re: Indian Canyon Decent - 1972
June 26, 2018 12:00PM
It took us over 3 hours to descend last thanksgiving... and we "knew what we were doing"

15 minutes prior to that... we had run into the 6.1 miles (or such) to Yosemite Valley via
Yosemite Falls sign... so .. uh... yeah... it's not a shortcut ...
And the trail was very overgrown at the top.

I'd dooz it agin tho. smiling smiley

Chick-on is looking at you!

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/26/2018 12:01PM by chick-on.
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