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Tuolumne Meadows and Lembert Dome during a summer storm, Yosemite National Park

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Re: Waterwheel Falls

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Waterwheel Falls
June 27, 2011 09:49PM
Due to an all-day build at work on Saturday, I only had Sunday free, and since my wife is still recovering from a back injury, she spent the day with friends new to Yosemite doing touristy things--and being envious of my trip--while I did a solo all-too-quick dash down to Waterwheel Falls and back. I went via the Pothole Dome-Little Devils Postpile route, because it's shorter, more scenic (IMHO), and avoids crossing Dingley and Delaney Creeks, the latter of which can be very deep. I also don't think the Pothole Dome route is significantly more difficult when there is substantial snow coverage, which there was: up to 3' or so in places with heavy tree coverage, but the open areas were melted out. The snow petered out by the lower bridge near the High Sierra Camp; there was no real snow in or below Glen Aulin itself.

On the other hand, the water was impressively high, and combined with the down-canyon wind, I got the "mist falls" treatment at both Tuolumne Falls and White Cascade in the morning. Also, the water was flowing over the bridge approaches at both the upper (twin) and lower (near the High Sierra Camp) bridges. However, the trail was definitely passable, and I would estimate passing 20 or so backpackers who were leaving on my way down--it seems like most had camped on the ridge above Glen Aulin or in the glen itself, which was quite nice, as the mosquitoes had not yet arrived. (I also passed forum member ttilley near the upper bridge, whose faint footsteps I followed on my way in, and whose not-so-faint footsteps I followed on the return...)

Of course, being a wet year, the lower portion of Glen Aulin--including the trail--was flooded by the beautiful outlet of Mattie Lake. This required maybe 300-400 yards of walking in mostly shallow water--cold, but nothing dangerous. There was the usual amount of early-season deadfall in the glen. Below California Falls, the trail was clear. (While returning and passing several quite nice campsites, it hit me that Glen Aulin has recovered quite well from the past fires, but it seems most people prefer to camp near the High Sierra Camp or down canyon closer to the falls, where there are few good sites--with one exception. )

Although there are three named falls below Glen Aulin, the river is more or less a continuous cascade from California Falls to Waterwheel Falls, and every bit of this cascade complex was impressive due to the high water. LeConte specifically was throwing some very high waterwheels; conversely, Waterwheel itself was a bit of a letdown compared to last year's trip--I suspect because the wind was blowing down canyon, so its waterwheel wasn't being blown up and back on itself.





Unforunately, I was on a schedule to meet up with my wife and friends, so I had all-too-little time to relax and enjoy the falls. The weather was perfect, and there are places where I could have spent hours resting on a rock, letting the sounds of the cascades lull me to sleep, but I had to keep moving.

Pictures: Waterwheel Falls


Oh, and one more rather embarrasing thing: I seem to have left my GPS unit at the Pothole Dome parking lot (long weekend, don't ask...) If anyone happens to have found it, I would love to get it back. It was black with a small orange carabiner attached to it.
Re: Waterwheel Falls
June 27, 2011 09:54PM
Great pics. How long did it take you for the round trip?
Re: Waterwheel Falls
June 27, 2011 10:15PM
It took me about 8.5 hours (estimating, due to lost GPS :-( ), including approx. 1.5 hours of rest/snack/lunch time. I kindof bonked on the return once past the upper bridge--probably too little sleep the previous night (in bed at 1:00am or so due to a late arrival to June Lake). (And, with this posting, time for more sleep...)
avatar Re: Waterwheel Falls
June 27, 2011 10:01PM
Nice pictures! Especially LeConte.

There were four tents clustered around the south landing of the lower Tuolumne River bridge, on the ridge above Glen Aulin it was just myself and that other party. There was also a tent on the ridge south of the river, west of the stream from McGee Lake. Plus people in the Glen itself.
avatar Re: Waterwheel Falls
June 27, 2011 11:01PM
When we did the Pothole Dome to Little Devil's Postpile to the bridge last July 4th weekend, we met up with some folks who were coming back from having camped out near Waterwheel. We were a slow-moving, late-starting hiking party (made slower by the very wet conditions on the west side of the river) so we decided to turn back at the river and head back along the backpacker's trail, which was extremely boring by comparison.

I have a goal of hiking out to Waterwheel eventually, as either a long day hike, or a short overnighter.
Re: Waterwheel Falls
June 27, 2011 11:03PM
Where is the TH that you started from? I am only familiar with doing WW from basically the stables where the GA trail starts.
avatar Re: Waterwheel Falls
June 27, 2011 11:09PM
We just went up to the top of Pothole Dome, more to just see what we could see from there, having never been to TM before. We went down along the east side and found a use trail that pretty much takes you down to the river, and we sorta picked our way from there, depending on the conditions -- at that time it was to avoid the marshy meadow. Two weeks earlier would have been to avoid the slick domes still shedding snow, I imagine.

I posted my hike report here: http://yosemitenews.info/forum/read.php?3,26954,26954#msg-26954

I believe I based this hike on another post on this forum that I found by searching, as well as a short description I found in a hiking guide I bought at REI.
avatar Re: Waterwheel Falls
June 28, 2011 06:35AM
Thanks Aaron.
A tad bit more flow than last year when we met you in Glen Aulin... but much less snow.

If you follow itchy's link the reply by bill-e-g shows maps with routes and where you can park...
It's not an official trailhead, of course, but.. you can hike from wherever you like.

Wondering to myself... do ppl only reply to stuff they have seen already themselves?



Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Waterwheel Falls
June 28, 2011 07:15AM
Quote
chick-on
Wondering to myself... do ppl only reply to stuff they have seen already themselves?


Unlike free-association chikins, they feel that they need to know something in order to comment about it?
(NotDunning-KrugerEffectly Yours)
The Marmots

P.S. Defer to the Goatie whenever possible.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/28/2011 07:16AM by szalkowski.
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