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Re: Water Wheel / Le Conte / California Falls

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Water Wheel / Le Conte / California Falls
June 17, 2011 08:42PM
I came across this photo of what I believe is Le Conte Falls at Owens Valley History with the description as follows. "Waterwheel Falls, formerly Le Conte Falls and sometimes called California Falls, was originally named in 1895 by R. M. Price and derives its name from a set of cascades called the "Rocket Cascades." Here the water strikes the edges of the great plates of granite and is spun off continually in great arches. The columns, or waterwheels, of water rise fifteen to 20 feet high.
[Sierra Club Bulletin, May 1895] [photo: unknown]"
The description does not sound right to me. I was thinking about trying to correct the record, but I am not an expert. What say you?

avatar Re: Water Wheel / Le Conte / California Falls
June 17, 2011 09:07PM
Whatever the name, it was AWESOME to see while hiking down there from the Glen Aulin HSC last summer.
avatar Re: Water Wheel / Le Conte / California Falls
June 17, 2011 10:33PM
That's the upper section of Waterwheel Falls, a mile or so below La Conte Falls, which itself is just downstream from California Falls. It's a wonderful thing to see, but when it's flooding in spring time, just making your way through the canyon is a series of lakes that have to be navigated, sometimes from log to log, and rock to rock. It's too much work if you have a backpack on your back until the snow melts and the water lowers. At the end of day and half way through the night the water rises as the melted snow from that day gets moving and makes its way from upstream, places like Llyle Canyon, far up stream. Then, by morning the water has slowed down again. Leave anything near the high water mark when you go to sleep and it might be gone in the morning as the water rises and then falls. It's also a wind tunnel, as the warm air from the lower valleys come up into the high country, as the heat invesion kicks in later in the day and then that evening. I love Waterwheel Falls. Once you make it to the bottom though, it's a lot of hiking to get back up. My first backpacking trip was in that area when I was 14 years old, camping with my brother and his friends, almost fifty years ago.
Re: Water Wheel / Le Conte / California Falls
June 18, 2011 08:57PM
Quote
mark2
That's the upper section of Waterwheel Falls, a mile or so below La Conte Falls, which itself is just downstream from California Falls. It's a wonderful thing to see, but when it's flooding in spring time, just making your way through the canyon is a series of lakes that have to be navigated, sometimes from log to log, and rock to rock. It's too much work if you have a backpack on your back until the snow melts and the water lowers. At the end of day and half way through the night the water rises as the melted snow from that day gets moving and makes its way from upstream, places like Llyle Canyon, far up stream. Then, by morning the water has slowed down again. Leave anything near the high water mark when you go to sleep and it might be gone in the morning as the water rises and then falls. It's also a wind tunnel, as the warm air from the lower valleys come up into the high country, as the heat invesion kicks in later in the day and then that evening. I love Waterwheel Falls. Once you make it to the bottom though, it's a lot of hiking to get back up. My first backpacking trip was in that area when I was 14 years old, camping with my brother and his friends, almost fifty years ago.
Are you saying that to get to Waterwheel falls, you have to go through those lakes? I thought there was a trail?

I want to do that as a day hike next month during the full moon. I need to do it as a day hike, since we won't have a permit and will be camping at Toulumne.
avatar Re: Water Wheel / Le Conte / California Falls
June 18, 2011 11:39PM
When there's enough water coming down the creeks and rivers the trail gets flooded in places.

Hopefully someone in the next month will do a trip report so you'll have a better idea of what to expect.
avatar Re: Water Wheel / Le Conte / California Falls
June 18, 2011 12:39AM
That's not below Le Conte, that IS LeConte. It's a completly seperate waterfall that's not very near Waterwheel.
--
I can't say what the falls along that section of the Tuolumne used to be called.
This map makes it pretty clear, what was named what, when the map was made.
Tuolumne, California, Le Conte, Waterwheel Falls: topo map

The quote "Waterwheel Falls, formerly Le Conte Falls and sometimes called California Falls" makes no sense. "Waterwheel", "Le Conte", and "California" are each seperate waterfalls. Or was there a bunch of confusion and renaming of things at one point before the maps were made?



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 06/18/2011 12:45AM by qumqats.
Re: Water Wheel / Le Conte / California Falls
June 18, 2011 04:42PM
I thought it was possible that names had been changed long ago, which is why I thought I would ask here. I know there is confusion between Water Wheel and Le Conte for sure.

Quote
qumqats
That's not below Le Conte, that IS LeConte. It's a completly seperate waterfall that's not very near Waterwheel.
--
I can't say what the falls along that section of the Tuolumne used to be called.
This map makes it pretty clear, what was named what, when the map was made.
Tuolumne, California, Le Conte, Waterwheel Falls: topo map

The quote "Waterwheel Falls, formerly Le Conte Falls and sometimes called California Falls" makes no sense. "Waterwheel", "Le Conte", and "California" are each seperate waterfalls. Or was there a bunch of confusion and renaming of things at one point before the maps were made?
avatar Re: Water Wheel / Le Conte / California Falls
June 19, 2011 06:22PM
I agree. It's LeConte.

We talked about LeConte vs. Waterwheel last year too:
http://yosemitenews.info/forum/read.php?3,26924

And more on GCT if doing early:
http://yosemitenews.info/forum/read.php?3,26056

Wonder if basilbop gonna be in there again this year...



Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Water Wheel / Le Conte / California Falls
June 19, 2011 09:58PM
My wife and I were going to go up to Tuolumne and maybe try heading down toward Waterwheel this weekend, but she's still recovering from a back injury that flared up during the drive back from our camping trip in Yosemite (which was wonderful--lots of waterfalls, mild temperatures, very few mosquitoes...). Hopefully we'll make it up to Tuolumne soon!
Re: Water Wheel / Le Conte / California Falls
June 19, 2011 01:14PM
Regardless of the name, this is a great stretch of waterfalls in the springtime. Wanted to go there this weekend, but I have a feeling there will be a bit too much snow :-)
Re: Water Wheel / Le Conte / California Falls
June 19, 2011 02:01PM
I have a vague recollection of reading that Le Conte Falls was the original Waterwheel Falls and somehow long ago maybe when the USGS made the first map that changed. IMO Le Conte is a more interesting visual experience and has better waterwheels. Waterwheel Falls has two large spots where water shoots up but they are not nearly as circular as in wheel-like as its higher up cousin. Ironically most hiking down the river race right past Le Conte Falls as though the real experience is going to be at Waterwheel Falls haha. Much like all the tourons racing up in their SUV's by the very impressive Lee Vining Canon intent on reaching the Yosemite NP border at Tioga Pass without realizing that canyon is much more High Sierra like than anything else west in the park. During high flows I've been on both sides of the river twice and also up on the brink of cliffs north of Wildcat Point looking down on that zone. (Great area for gnarly sierra juniper.) Lacking a wetsuit, to reach the west side of the river before late summer is rather impossible due to the extreme flows. Note following the river along the west side of the Glen Aulin section would be gruesome as there are significant sections of aspen jungles tangled up in large talus. What I did was make a class 2 route down Cathedral Creek and up and over Falls Ridge. There are lots of class 3 cliffs plus to avoid so not recommended to any but XXX experienced. Just going down the river from California Falls to Le Conte is rather tricky to avoid class 3 friction slabs. We spent a whole day alongside Waterwheel on the west side which is much easier access to view and has the big cliffs as a photo backdrop. That trip was decades ago and a photo disaster as we had not much experience trying to take pics of whitewater that is horribly contrasty.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/19/2011 02:05PM by DavidSenesac.
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