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Re: Anderson Spur and Union Point (long)

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Anderson Spur and Union Point (long)
June 29, 2010 10:31PM
OK, so my recent posts on abandoned trails haven't provoked much interest. Probably because most of you never want to set foot off-trail. Here are a couple of historic points on very popular trails...the Four Mile Trail and the trail from Happy Isles to Vernal Fall Bridge. They are worth a ten minute look as you pass by, because they help explain some of the history of the park.

Anderson Spur. Have you ever wondered why the trail out of Happy Isles crosses the river to go up the north bank, even though that side is rockier than the other side, and then climbs too high before it goes back down again to the Vernal Falls Bridge? Well, the John Muir Trail didn't go that way originally. (It was Mr. Snow's Trail then.) That original trail is now the horse trail, which so many hikers have stumbled down after taking a wrong turn at dusk. But there is nothing wrong with the route of the horse trail, especially now that horses are much less common on the trail than they used to be. Certainly not wrong enough to warrant building a new trail and a much bigger bridge than would have been needed at Illiouette Creek to improve the old trail. The answer goes back to the Mist Trail and the Anderson Trail, and a race to get an easy and safe trail both to the top of Vernal Falls and to Snows Hotel which was built on a large flat spot on the north bank, just above the Silver Apron and below Nevada Falls.

Remember, in those days most of the trails were built as toll trails, to generate profits. The Mist Trail was built about the time of Snow's Trail, which circles far above Vernal Falls before coming back down to it. But to get up Vernal Falls, the Mist Trail had a long, damp and mossy wooden ladder. At least one person fell off it and died. The attachment bolts for this ladder are still accessible on top of the outcrop. Much later, someone blasted rock so as to turn a small crack into the current ledge with railing that climbs next to the falls.

But at the time Anderson set out to build a competing trail, the Mist Trail was bad. He built a trail with much better construction technique and views than the Mist Trail, and his route would avoid the shower bath that you receive on the Mist Trail. His plan was to end his trail by blasting a ledge to the top of Vernal Falls on the north river bank, with convenient access to the falls, Emerald Pool, and the hotel. He did fantastically good work, but it took too long and the money ran out in 1882. His trail sat abandoned for a while, then in 1885 the park service took it over, and ran an extension down to the new Vernal Falls Bridge near the start of the Mist Trail. This allowed them to send horse traffic down via the old trail, much to the relief of all.

But there is still a bit of Anderson's trail above the current route. As you climb up, just before you cross a boulder field and start down to the new bridge, you will see some stonework on your left. This is the next Anderson switchback going up. You can follow it for a while, until it just ends where his dream collapsed.

Union Point. What would Yosemite Falls Trail be without the lookout at Columbia Rock? Union Point on the Four Mile Trail was an even better lookout. It is on all the maps, but in recent years you passed by it without seeing a thing. This prominent flat area and lookout had been decommissioned: covered with live brush, and the sign torn down. You could work your way in there, if you knew where to go, but the brush completely spoiled the view. It was even worse than the brush on Old Inspiration Point.

Now, it is true that the Four Mile Trail doesn't really need a lookout. You can see it almost everything just by stopping in the middle of the trail in places. But a large flat resting area with a pipe rail lookout would still be welcome on almost any trail. I've grumbled about the loss of this historic place for years, as have others, and the park service has relented. I was up there last week, and Union Point has been restored. Or, at least, the brush has been cut. The old iron sign with its cutout letters has been rescued. The views are back, except right at the pipe rail. A couple of trees have grown up to block the view there, and need to be pruned....

So, why was it destroyed in the first place? Embarrassment, probably. The lookout spot was there from the very beginning, but in 1932 it got a major upgrade: a drinking fountain at the turnoff from the main trail, a horse trough and another drinking fountain on the flat area of the point, and a comfort station. Today there is no place to pee from Glacier Point to the Valley, and not even a portable potty at the bottom. This facility must have been a big deal at the time. Of course, a comfort station in those days probably had a pit toilet or a primitive septic field. You've seen the new fancy toilet at the top of Nevada Falls, and what a big deal it is to service it today. Involves a helicopter, I believe. In 1932 there wasn't much of a way to keep the place sanitary as it aged. It also required a lot of maintenance and almost daily trash hauling. In 1969, rather than shutter the comfort station, they leveled it and destroyed all traces of it. In the process, Union Point disappeared. Maybe it's been long enough that they can bring back the view without complaints about the missing toilet....

But what about the water source? This is mostly a dry trail, and that was a bigger problem when there was a lot of horse traffic. This is where the Glacier Point water works comes in. As you come down from Glacier Point, look out at the first switchback that has a view of Sentinal Rock. You will see a water tank and pump house below.But I don't think system was originally built just to service Glacier Point and the hotel that burned down there in the 50s. I think it was also built to send water down to Union Point, a job which required no pump and no water tank. It was gravity feed from the spring to the Point. The last short run had to have been iron pipe to allow some gravity pressure to build up to operate the fountains. A bit of iron pipe still lay along the trail last year; it's gone now as part of the cleanup.





Away from the trail, though the water could just flow downhill with no pressure, and in places they could use leftover wooden water pipes from the cavalry days in Yosemite. Some of them are still there:





You see, in 1907 the cavalry bought a bunch of these wrought-iron-wrapped redwood pipes for various projects in the Valley. Some may have been quite large. I know that they tore up some of it when they repiped the valley water system in 1985. How the wooden pipe in the photos got up to Union Point is a bit of a mystery, but no doubt it was on hand at a time when some pipe was needed in 1932....

It's an interesting curiosity. When was the last time you saw any wooden pipes?
avatar Re: Anderson Spur and Union Point (long)
June 30, 2010 01:13AM
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wherever
OK, so my recent posts on abandoned trails haven't provoked much interest. Probably because most of you never want to set foot off-trail.


I should have weighed in earlier, but I thought that Chick-on and his slave/bearer were being effusive enough for all of us.

All of the stuff that you have been posting is absolutely first-rate. DON'T STOP!!!

(My interest, however, is mainly historical since I tend to avoid going to Downtown Turlock, er, The Valley like the plague.)



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 06/30/2010 01:15AM by szalkowski.
avatar Re: Anderson Spur and Union Point (long)
June 30, 2010 07:35AM
I'm just gonna say this for every one you post. Love it!
(we kinda talked about this but I'll put it here... welcome to my world...
put up a picture and you can hear the crickets... no clue if anyone likes it or could care less)
(don't get me started on asking for advice and then never coming back and saying anything!)

Kinda irritated that I didn't follow the GP WW down more from GP last weekend though.
Never saw any wooden pipes and didn't get down to the second tank.
Next time I'll just follow it all the way down...

The pipe and tanks are still in use today. To provide water to GP they pump water up
from the valley. (that is my best guess) .

this pix kinda sux but it shows the pipe and Sent. Rock and the valley floor... etc...

avatar Re: Anderson Spur and Union Point (long)
June 30, 2010 07:39AM
Len,
Go to the valley early spring and late fall. Or winter.
We've gone up the Mist trail and seen no one.
Last year when I went to Obelisk (mid Oct) ... I didn't see a single person once
I got on the Mist trail ... no one even thru LYV... then no one until back on
it 2 days later.
avatar Re: Anderson Spur and Union Point (long)
June 30, 2010 01:05PM
Perspective

Yosemite Valley: 18 km.2
YNP (total): 3081 km.2
SEKI (total): 3504 km.2

(Not to mention Death Valley and Joshua Tree.)
avatar Re: Anderson Spur and Union Point (long)
June 30, 2010 01:50PM
Bakersfield : 296 km2

Enjoy
avatar Re: Anderson Spur and Union Point (long)
June 30, 2010 02:19PM
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bill-e-g
Bakersfield : 296 km2

Enjoy


New Priest Grade (roadbed only): 0.06 km.2
avatar Re: Anderson Spur and Union Point (long)
June 30, 2010 02:41PM
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bill-e-g
Bakersfield : 296 km2

Enjoy

Bakersfield and enjoy in the same post? Now I've seen everything.

Cool Tux
Re: Anderson Spur and Union Point (long)
June 30, 2010 08:32AM
Bill said "The pipe and tanks are still in use today. To provide water to GP they pump water up
from the valley. (that is my best guess) ."

The water in question originates in a spring in the gully that runs down the east side of Sentinel Rock. It is collected in a small concrete box. It then flows downhill in that creek bed in (today) a large plastic pipe to get below an outcrop, then makes a right angle bend to the east over to the next little gully. Today it climbs up that second gully a short distance to the pump house, which sits on a little knob, and is sent on up the hill to Glacier Point.

You can see in the terrain, though, that it didn't always go back uphill to the pump house. It used to just keep going east and a bit downhill to Union Point.

I'm sure that Glacier Point uses a lot less water now than when the hotel existed. It probably uses a lot less water than when the palatial new restrooms there were permanently shut down by a crackpot lawsuit. But that's another story. They have since built some new waterless restrooms at Glacier Point...
Re: Anderson Spur and Union Point (long)
June 30, 2010 07:50PM
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wherever
.

I'm sure that Glacier Point uses a lot less water now than when the hotel existed. It probably uses a lot less water than when the palatial new restrooms there were permanently shut down by a crackpot lawsuit. But that's another story. They have since built some new waterless restrooms at Glacier Point...
Not to hijack, but do you have any links to this story? I know people were claiming the rock falls off GP were caused by the septic tank leaking, but I had no idea the restrooms had been shuttered.
Re: Anderson Spur and Union Point (long)
June 30, 2010 08:03PM
No, but I'm sure that there are readers of this forum who know the whole story. It does seem strange to claim that leakage from a tank situated in the Staircase Falls drainage (see Ledge Trail thread) could have caused one of the endless rockfalls on the face below Glacier Point, on the other side of the Point. But one of the great properties of our legal system is that you can sue the Park Service with little possible downside risk for yourself, but a with great risk for the park service if some jury decides that you caused a rockfall that killed someone. After all, if your loved one died doing something risky, it must be someone else's fault...

I'm sure that the government's lawyers wanted to avoid a jury trial at all costs. When I asked a senior ranger about this, all I got was a thin-lipped glare.

As far as I know, the net result has been that the very nice restroom they built next to the parking lot has been out of service since the gov't settled with the plaintiff. They have recently built a bunch of refined replacements for the portable toilets.

If you know the actual facts, and have a web link or two, please post them here.
Re: Anderson Spur and Union Point (long)
August 26, 2011 04:55PM
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wherever
As far as I know, the net result has been that the very nice restroom they built next to the parking lot has been out of service since the gov't settled with the plaintiff. They have recently built a bunch of refined replacements for the portable toilets.

Are you referring to the $10M lawsuit the parents of Peter Terbush filed? If so, I thought I read somewhere that the judge wouldn't even hear the case.

When did they close the restrooms and put in "refined replacements for the portable toilets"?

I sure wish I lived closer so I could see it for myself instead of bugging you guys. Just know that I live vicariously through all of you and your journeys, and thank you very much for posting your trip reports and photos here.
Re: Anderson Spur and Union Point (long)
August 26, 2011 11:21PM
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SierraGold
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wherever
As far as I know, the net result has been that the very nice restroom they built next to the parking lot has been out of service since the gov't settled with the plaintiff. They have recently built a bunch of refined replacements for the portable toilets.

Are you referring to the $10M lawsuit the parents of Peter Terbush filed? If so, I thought I read somewhere that the judge wouldn't even hear the case.

When did they close the restrooms and put in "refined replacements for the portable toilets"?

I sure wish I lived closer so I could see it for myself instead of bugging you guys. Just know that I live vicariously through all of you and your journeys, and thank you very much for posting your trip reports and photos here.

Good question. I don't know what happened to the lawsuit, but the fancy new restrooms did close at that time, and are still closed. They then used portable toilets for some years, and recently replaced them with several nice stone outhouses in the parking lot. They look like the sort of thing that has to be pumped out into tankers.

So I'll ask it again: Does anyone know the real story? It sure looks like the usual CYA lawers advice was followed: Even if the complaint was groundless, it will be considered to have been prior warning if anyone gets hurt in the future. So you must do something stupid to prove that you responded to the original warning. For further details on this sort of thing, read the book, "The Death of Common Sense".
avatar Re: Anderson Spur and Union Point (long)
December 05, 2012 12:55AM
From the articles I've found online about the lawsuit, I understand the plaintiffs lost. "[Terbush's] family launched a legal fight after learning of a geologist's theory that a leaking bathroom water system atop Glacier Point artificially lubricated the cliff face, unleashing a flurry of rock slides in the months before the tragedy. They argued the park negligently created the rock-fall danger, then failed to warn visitors." (Seattle Times)

I rode the DNC bus to Glacier Point at the end of June, 2011. The driver explained to the pasengers that the reason the good restrooms were closed was because there was still snow covering the leachfield. I did notice this summer, when there wasn't any snow up there, that the restrooms were still closed. Of course this was an unusually dry year so it could've been due to a shortage of water.
avatar Re: Anderson Spur and Union Point (long)
December 05, 2012 01:17AM
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gophersnake
From the articles I've found online about the lawsuit, I understand the plaintiffs lost. "[Terbush's] family launched a legal fight after learning of a geologist's theory that a leaking bathroom water system atop Glacier Point artificially lubricated the cliff face, unleashing a flurry of rock slides in the months before the tragedy. They argued the park negligently created the rock-fall danger, then failed to warn visitors." (Seattle Times)

I rode the DNC bus to Glacier Point at the end of June, 2011. The driver explained to the pasengers that the reason the good restrooms were closed was because there was still snow covering the leachfield. I did notice this summer, when there wasn't any snow up there, that the restrooms were still closed. Of course this was an unusually dry year so it could've been due to a shortage of water.

I haven't seen the fancy bathrooms by the parking lot open in years. The vault toilets have always been open, although I don't think they were installed for a year or two after the fancy bathrooms ( that are never open ) were installed ( there must have been a bunch of anxious and legs crossed tourists! ). I'd guess the lawsuit was involved somewhere in there. I've been told the water table is too high for the leachfield both at GP and at Bridalveil Campgound which is the cause of them either not opening, or opening latter in the season when the water table level has dropped.
avatar Re: Anderson Spur and Union Point (long)
June 30, 2010 07:47PM
wherever, I just recently started following this forum, and I'll use my first post to thank you for the information you're providing. I've done a lot of random exploration in the eastern sierra and the desert and one of my favorite things to do is to visit the lesser know 'secret' spots right under everyone else's noses. Your recent posts have me excited to explore a bit closer to home and I look forward to checking out some of these trips. I really appreciate it!
Re: Anderson Spur and Union Point (long)
July 06, 2010 06:20PM
The ladders at Vernal Falls.
Here is an sketch published in 1888 of the ladders at Vernal Falls that Anderson was trying to bypass with his new trail. You will recognize the overhanging alcove at the start of where the present pipe rail (dynamited) ledge climb begins.


from http://www.yosemite.ca.us/library/mackenzie/
avatar Re: Anderson Spur and Union Point (long)
July 06, 2010 06:46PM
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wherever
The ladders at Vernal Falls.
Here is an sketch published in 1888 of the ladders at Vernal Falls that Anderson was trying to bypass with his new trail. You will recognize the overhanging alcove at the start of where the present pipe rail (dynamited) ledge climb begins.


from http://www.yosemite.ca.us/library/mackenzie/



Imagine a tourist on every rung and you have the prelude to the Half Dome cables.

P.S. Great sketch, wherever; don't recall ever seeing it before.
avatar Re: Anderson Spur and Union Point (long)
January 18, 2011 04:14PM
I just want to thank everyone for posting pics, stories and trails. This site is an invaluable resource for info and history. Thanks out to everyone.
Re: Anderson Spur and Union Point (long)
August 27, 2011 08:27AM
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oakroscoe
I just want to thank everyone for posting pics, stories and trails. This site is an invaluable resource for info and history. Thanks out to everyone.

Ditto...just cuz we ain't commenting, doesn't mean we ain't reading or looking at pics, with great interest might I add.
Re: Anderson Spur and Union Point (long)
August 27, 2011 08:09PM
Here's a tip - On an August afternoon, there was a long line of people waiting at the first GP toilet building, unaware there was another with no line a few yards down the parking lot.
avatar Re: Anderson Spur and Union Point (long)
August 27, 2011 09:36PM
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Brewer
Here's a tip - On an August afternoon, there was a long line of people waiting at the first GP toilet building, unaware there was another with no line a few yards down the parking lot.

Shhh! That's a secret!
avatar Re: Anderson Spur and Union Point (long)
August 28, 2011 10:29AM
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eeek
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Brewer
Here's a tip - On an August afternoon, there was a long line of people waiting at the first GP toilet building, unaware there was another with no line a few yards down the parking lot.

Shhh! That's a secret!

Not when I'm around.

If I notice that there's a long line at the first set of outdoor toilets, I'll inform the people at the back of the line about the other two sets of toilets further down the parking lot.

It's just the neighborly thing to do... Angel
avatar Re: Anderson Spur and Union Point (long)
December 05, 2012 12:05AM
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wherever
You've seen the new fancy toilet at the top of Nevada Falls, and what a big deal it is to service it today. Involves a helicopter, I believe.

I was wondering about that (and guessing a helicopter, too). This summer I happened to catch a ranger in the area and ask him. He said those were composting toilets (now, anyway). It was someone's job to turn the compost weekly, and during the off season the finished product was packed out... by mule. I didn't ask about the details but I'd think they'd use straw or sawdust or something as part of the composting process, and that would get brought in by the same means.

The toilets at Vernal Fall, Nevada Fall, and the LYV campground all seem to be of the same vintage and general design. That probably means they all work the same way.

As I remember, the toilets at the below-Vernal-Fall footbridge are "flushies". Would NPS pipe the sewage down to the valley (and El Portal)? It doesn't seem possible to find a place for a leachfield so close to the river.

I'm interested in the rest of this topic too but I'm not promising I'll explore very many of the abandoned trails you guys mention. As I indicated in another post...

----------------------------
I'm not the bushwhacker I used to be. Some say I never was.
Re: Anderson Spur and Union Point (long)
December 05, 2012 12:43AM
In recent years, I have not had the luxury of keeping up on developments in Yosemite - except through this fine forum. In respect of a Glacier Point water supply, however, I remember only too well a large metal water tank that was installed in the old - now defunct, I believe - Glacier Point Campground in 1971. The tank was located uphill and probably to the west of the Glacier Point ranger residences, which I hope are still there.
avatar Re: Anderson Spur and Union Point (long)
December 05, 2012 01:08AM
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gophersnake
As I remember, the toilets at the below-Vernal-Fall footbridge are "flushies". Would NPS pipe the sewage down to the valley (and El Portal)? It doesn't seem possible to find a place for a leachfield so close to the river.
The water is from the Merced, and treated somewhere. I don't know if it's a separate water system just for the Comfort Station, or if the water is pumped up from the valley.
The sewage goes down to the valley. If you hike up/down the pack trail you'll see indications of a sewage line following the trail.
avatar Re: Anderson Spur and Union Point (long)
December 05, 2012 02:17PM
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qumqats
The water is from the Merced, and treated somewhere. I don't know if it's a separate water system just for the Comfort Station, or if the water is pumped up from the valley.

Almost certainly separate. It's chock full of chlorine (or maybe chloramine) and tastes nothing like the valley water. The day I tasted it (from the faucets near the footbridge) I happened to have a filter with me for the first time. I was practicing by filtering Merced water but after topping up my bottle from the faucet and then tasting it eye popping smiley I wished I'd filtered the faucet water too.

Quote

The sewage goes down to the valley. If you hike up/down the pack trail you'll see indications of a sewage line following the trail.

I'm curious about the line as well as the big water tank near there. I've been seeing the "horses only" signs at the ends of that trail, though. What would happen if I met a ranger (or a horse, or a ranger on a horse -- or a mule train hauling composted poop)?

I sometimes ride the YARTS bus through El Portal. There's a big sewage treatment plant there and one of the drivers told me it handles sewage not only from the whole valley, but from the rest of the park as well. From the same bus, I keep seeing manhole covers along Northside Drive. I figure that must be the outgoing sewer line.
avatar Re: Anderson Spur and Union Point (long)
December 05, 2012 03:00PM
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gophersnake
one of the drivers told me it handles sewage not only from the whole valley, but from the rest of the park as well.

Not really, Tuolumne has its own treatment plant.
Re: Anderson Spur and Union Point (long)
December 05, 2012 03:03PM
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eeek
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gophersnake
one of the drivers told me it handles sewage not only from the whole valley, but from the rest of the park as well.

Not really, Tuolumne has its own treatment plant.

White Wolf also has some sort of sewage facility, down the old Tioga road a bit from the lodge and campground.
avatar Re: Anderson Spur and Union Point (long)
December 05, 2012 06:42PM
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wherever
White Wolf also has some sort of sewage facility, down the old Tioga road a bit from the lodge and campground.

Chick-on will probably post a picture of the WW cesspool.



Old Dude
avatar Re: Anderson Spur and Union Point (long)
December 05, 2012 06:47PM
I didn't head over to visit the cesspool, but they appear to have both a cesspool and a leach field, near where the 'road' turns into a 'former road now reclaimed trail' there's a bunch of signs warning to not drink any water. Which was non-existent when I hiked by in late September.

The overall footprint of White Wolf seems fairly large considering its small size.
Re: Anderson Spur and Union Point (long)
December 06, 2012 06:39PM
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ttilley
....The overall footprint of White Wolf seems fairly large considering its small size.

White Wolf was a stop on the Tioga Road long before the new Tioga Pass road was built. In fact, it was a stopping place on the Great Sierra Wagon Road before it became part of the park in 1890. The Lodge building is about a hundred years old. By 1930, It was fully developed, including an electric generator, gas station, dining room, tent cabins and all. I'm not sure when the campground across the highway from it grew to its current size, but it's certainly not reasonable to complain today about what was considered normal activity along a main highway back then. There is also ranger housing there and a horse facility.

Anyway, I like the place. It's a little bit of preserved history. It grew to it's present size organically, without very much in the way of environmental impact hearings. I doubt that any of its founders, in their wildest dreams, could have imagined our current attitude towards wilderness and our concept of a minimal footprint..
avatar Re: Anderson Spur and Union Point (long)
December 06, 2012 07:00PM
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wherever
I doubt that any of its founders, in their wildest dreams, could have imagined our current attitude towards wilderness and our concept of a minimal footprint..

Actually, my surprise was that White Wolf seems relatively small in terms of the number of visitors it might accommodate, while appearing quite large in its current-day footprint. Its the discrepancy between its actual size and its overall current-day footprint that seems odd, the footprint seems every bit as large as at Tuolumne Meadows, while the overall visitation seems unlikely to approach that level.

Edit: to be...clearer?...the surprise was current day reality versus expectations, not historical reality versus current expectations.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/06/2012 07:01PM by ttilley.
avatar Re: Anderson Spur and Union Point (long)
January 04, 2013 08:21AM
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eeek
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gophersnake
one of the drivers told me it handles sewage not only from the whole valley, but from the rest of the park as well.

Not really, Tuolumne has its own treatment plant.

And Wawona, and Hodgden, and Yosemite West, and White Wolf.



Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Anderson Spur and Union Point (long)
January 04, 2013 10:03AM
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chick-on
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eeek
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gophersnake
one of the drivers told me it handles sewage not only from the whole valley, but from the rest of the park as well.

Not really, Tuolumne has its own treatment plant.

And Wawona, and Hodgden, and Yosemite West, and White Wolf.

And (perhaps stretching the definition of "facility" a bit): Merced Lake, Vogelsang*, Glen Aulin, May Lake, Sunrise*, Hetch Hetchy (BP campground and CCSF/HHWP residences), Crane Flat, and Glacier Point (residences and snack stand, but not the new restrooms).

* = "grey water" only

Unknown: Does Chinquapin have its own facility or is it linked to Yosemite West? Does the Badger Pass ski complex have its own facility or is it linked to Chinquapin and/or Yosemite West (via the old BP road corridor?) Also, what about the Bridalveil Creek campground, Foresta (linked to El Portal?), Aspen Valley, the Lake Eleanor CCSF/HHWP buildings, and the Mather entrance station (linked to Camp Mather?)
avatar Re: Anderson Spur and Union Point (long)
December 05, 2012 01:24PM
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gophersnake
inished product was packed out... by mule.

Which is fitting revenge considering how much of their product we have to walk through. Grinning Devil
Re: Anderson Spur and Union Point (long)
December 06, 2012 07:18PM
Although I don't always respond, I really enjoy reading the posts and seeing people's pictures on abandoned trails, unusual places and backpacking trips. I can't do much hiking anymore and these threads are the only way that I can experience these things. I have to live vicariously through every ones posts so keep them coming.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 12/06/2012 07:19PM by parklover.
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