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Re: Return Creek

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Return Creek
August 01, 2011 11:02AM
While ascending the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne this Sunday, my wife and I encountered a few "odd" conditions. One was that the Tuolumne was muddy-brown from above Muir Gorge to Return Creek. This isn't something I've seen--or would expect--in Sierra rivers: there usually isn't much topsoil for rain-induced runoff, and what soil there is tends to be light-colored granitic sands, resulting in more an opaque, milky look. Anyway, all the muddy water was flowing from Return Creek; the Tuolumne itself above Return Creek was white and clear, as expected.



Of course, there were thunderstorms on Sunday (and Saturday), but I'm wondering if something unusual happened in the Return Creek drainage to cause this much muddy runoff (landslide?), or if it's normal during heavy rainstorms for this creek.

(The other "odd" condition were some sand/mud-flows below the Return Creek bridge that completely obscured the trail for a few hundred feet with up to a foot of sand/mud--they almost looked like lava flowing over the ground, but were more like wet sand or even quicksand. I suspect that since this area had recently burned, the rains washed down now-bare topsoil...

)

Oh, and we encountered only two people between Pate Valley and Glen Aulin--I think the down-canyon travellers were holding back at Glen Aulin due to weather-related conditions (the lower part of the glen was flooded, as it was a month or so ago).



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/01/2011 06:37PM by basilbop.
avatar Re: Return Creek
August 01, 2011 11:26AM
Yeah, that's pretty wild. I think you got it right. The Wildcat fire burned and with the recent diluge a lot of
topsoil ended up in the creek. I took a number of shots up Return last weekend. I'll take a look at
the huge shrub field probably a mile up canyon and see if can make out how much of it burned. My guess
it is mostly coming from that slope. Probably further upstream on Return and Matt Creeks the water is clear.
I don't think it is common for this creek to have that much sediment flowing in it.



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avatar Re: Return Creek
August 01, 2011 11:46AM
Hmm... Already have decent photo of Return here:
https://picasaweb.google.com/yosemite.chick.on/FallsRidge#5634182435531893890

Now wondering what Matterhorn Creek looked like...



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Re: Return Creek
August 01, 2011 10:05PM
I was camping in Pate Valley one year and there were what I think were 3 thunderstorms were in the area. Anyway, I was filtering water and I had to go grab something from my campsite, ~200 ft away. In the time it took me to walk back and forth the river had risen about a foot and was brown with debris instead of being clear as normal. My filter that I had placed on the bank was now in the river about to float away. I have never seen such a big river rise so quickly.

Incidentally, the Merced was brown and up this weekend too with the thunderstorms: USGS River Flow Data - Pohono Bridge Merced River
avatar Re: Return Creek
August 01, 2011 01:05PM
Awww man, so I guess there was no refreshing swim in my favorite Yosemite swimmin hole?
avatar Re: Return Creek
August 01, 2011 01:38PM
That's Register. wink



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avatar Re: Return Creek
August 01, 2011 01:48PM
Ooops, see there I go mixing up my R-creeks. At least I didn't dig out the picture of Rush Creek. Or Reversed Creek. Or...well you get the idea.
Re: Return Creek
August 01, 2011 01:54PM
If that's the waterfall above the crossing of Register, it would not have made a good swimming hole when we passed though... although since the water was almost crotch deep, maybe that counts as a swim...?
avatar Re: Return Creek
August 01, 2011 02:43PM
Probably not. We hit it in a dry year on 4th of July weekend. The crossing part was a rock hop, but below the falls was a perfect swimming hole. We were heading down the canyon and had just come over the Muir Gorge bypass and it was HOT. I dropped my pack and jumped in. One of my best trail memories in Yosemite.
avatar Re: Return Creek
August 01, 2011 04:29PM
Quote
basilbop
While ascending the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne this Sunday, my wife and I encountered a few "odd" conditions. One was that the Tuolumne was muddy-brown from above Muir Gorge to Return Creek. This isn't something I've seen--or would expect--in Sierra rivers: there usually isn't much topsoil for rain-induced runoff, and what soil there is tends to be light-colored granitic sands, resulting in more an opaque, milky look. Anyway, all the muddy water was flowing from Return Creek; the Tuolumne itself above Return Creek was white and clear, as expected. I'll post pictures later, but it was quite a sight to see the two different-colored rivers merging.


The intersection where the Rio Negro (top/black) meets the Amazon River (bottom/blue):
http://maps.google.com/?ll=-3.140516,-60.166626&spn=0.632134,1.389771&t=h&z=10



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/01/2011 04:29PM by szalkowski.
Re: Return Creek
August 01, 2011 06:39PM
I've updated the original posting with pictures of the Return/Tuolumne confluence and the odd mud flows below Return Creek...
avatar Re: Return Creek
August 01, 2011 08:56PM
That is pretty wild. I'd attribute it to the Wildcat Fire and the recent deluge of rain.

Unlike:


Very interesting... I'd say you got very lucky...



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