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Re: Waterwheel Falls

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Waterwheel Falls
December 29, 2011 08:34PM
I was just notified that I won the High Sierra Camp lottery for Glen Aulin. I was hoping to get two nights there but they gave me only one. I had planned on hiking to
Glen Aulin, spending the night and doing Waterwheel Falls the next day and then having another night at Glen Aulin.
How far below the Glen Aulin HSC is Waterwheel Falls? How steep is the trail? After that I'm on to May Lake.

Cannot wait til summer!
Re: Waterwheel Falls
December 29, 2011 08:48PM
If you don't feel like going all the way to May Lake, there's plenty of camping in proximity to Glen Aulin. You can always camp at McGee Lake or, my preference, find a spot on the mountain (9134) between Glen Aulin and McGee Lake. You'll have killer views. That said, if you only plan to day hike, to May Lake you go.
avatar Re: Waterwheel Falls
December 29, 2011 09:01PM
In answer to your question... it's right about 3.5 miles to Waterwheels falls... and about 1000 ft. descent.
If you dayhike there and back and then to May Lake.. it's about 14 miles total.
Total up is about 2500 ft. from Waterwheels to May Lake HSC.

Have fun



Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Waterwheel Falls
December 30, 2011 02:46AM
And make sure you make it to Waterwheel. A lot of people get to the first big waterfall and stop thinking it's Waterwheel. They've actually stopped at Le Conte. Waterwheel is the second big waterfall.
Re: Waterwheel Falls
January 08, 2012 11:58PM
Quote
qumqats
And make sure you make it to Waterwheel. A lot of people get to the first big waterfall and stop thinking it's Waterwheel. They've actually stopped at Le Conte. Waterwheel is the second big waterfall.


Yup, I can vouch for having seen Le Conte Falls mistakenly mis-referenced as Waterwheel on numerous times. But I've made my own flubs over the years, so I don't cast stones.

Here's a photo I took of Le Conte Falls last July; best remembered by the rock island with trees growing in mid cascade.





Gary Crabbe
Enlightened Images

"Nearness to Nature keeps the Spirit sensitive to impressions not commonly felt, and in touch with unseen powers." - Oyihesa; Santee Dakota indian, from his book, Soul of the Indian (1911)




Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/09/2012 12:27AM by enlightphoto.
Re: Waterwheel Falls
December 30, 2011 05:08AM
Personally, I wouldn't recommend going to ww falls and then on to May Lake. We did exactly as you originally planned a few years ago. We took our time going to ww falls,stopping along the way many times to admire the views. We would not have had time to enjoy it if we had to also hike to May Lake. The trail from ww falls back to GA is steep IMO. Yes, you can do it if you are a strong hiker, but most people aren't acclimated to the altitude for the first few days. It really depends on your hiking abilities and how much you want to squeeze into one day. Again, it's not for me. One more thing to consider......if this turns out to be a low snow year, the waterwheel may not be "running".
Re: Waterwheel Falls
December 30, 2011 06:02AM
With the snow levels so far the lowest in years, there may not be much waterfall action this summer. So it may be just as well not to plan another night at GA. Anyone know the extended forecast for snow this winter in Yosemite?
Re: Waterwheel Falls
December 30, 2011 08:17AM
What I would do is get a reasonably early start to Glen Aulin from Tuolumne, drop your non-day gear at the camp, gulp down a few cups of lemonade, then continue to Waterwheel and back the same day. Even if the water is low the hike is worth it. There's plenty of good stuff to see between Glen Aulin and Waterwheel, so even if you have to turn around before getting all the way to WW to make it back to the camp in time for dinner (6:30), it'll be a great hike. You can also let the camp workers know you might be late--they'll understand, many people do Waterwheel the same day they arrive at GA. My experience has been that you could be a half hour late to dinner w/o missing anything other than the salad.
Re: Waterwheel Falls
December 30, 2011 08:33AM
That sounds like the best plan. If the falls aren't running much this summer, I don't want to plan two nights at GA, unless there is another day hike using GA as a base camp.
Re: Waterwheel Falls
December 30, 2011 10:03AM
It's about 6 miles to Glen Aulin and another 3.5 or so to WW falls. That in itself will be a decent sized day--13 miles with the return trip to GA--especially if you're still acclimating to the altitude.

Don't know what your total itinerary is, but as noted, if you want to hang out in the area an additional day, there's plenty of nearby camping. You may feel like a layover day to acclimate (and swim) especially if you're burned after the first day. Moreover, the hike to May Lake is one you'll probably want to take your time and enjoy. It's around 9 miles, mostly uphill, but the last 1/3rd or so features some excellent views.

Also, I wouldn't be too worried about the size of the falls just yet. I remember last year, we had a bit of a dry spell in December-January, but got hit massively towards the end of winter and early spring. The year before was not as bad, but still large as well. Both years featured excellent falls.
Re: Waterwheel Falls
December 30, 2011 12:47PM
The total itinerary is short. Just TML to GA, to ML and back to TML. I'm not worried at all about being burned out on the trip to GA. If anything, I'm wondering if we'll get there at noon wandering how to spend the next few hours.

Thanks for all the advice. I read the books and look at the maps but they don't tell the full story and the difficulty of a trip/trail is so subjective.
avatar Re: Waterwheel Falls
January 03, 2012 01:05PM
Another variation of this suggestion is use the same plan you are now looking at but limit your trip down the canyon to Le Conte Falls. Personally, I think Le Conte is impressive enough without having to add another couple miles to a long day hike just to take in Waterwheel. 13 miles your first day is a lot for most people, especially with the "all uphill part late in the day with the sun beating on you". It just comes down to what your true capabilities are. Also, somebody else emphasized enjoying the trip. Killing yourself with gotta-get-there-itus just is not worth it. My 2 cents.
avatar Re: Waterwheel Falls
January 03, 2012 01:31PM
Don't worry about where to spend a few hours near Glen Aulin. There's back country beauty everywhere you look. I like basil's plan the best as well.

I'd get an early start, drop my bags at the HSC and head down the canyon as far as you feel comfortable going. It is really an amazing hike...even if you don't get all the way down and even if the water is not raging!

Don't miss the sunset down the canyon...awesome!!!!



"It is all very beautiful and magical here - a quality which cannot be described. You have to live it and breath it., let the sun bake it into you" - Ansel Adams
Re: Waterwheel Falls
January 08, 2012 09:37PM
If you have some flexibility in your schedule you could always spend a night or two in the backpacker's CG in TM before your night in GA and do some day hikes to help you acclimate. Just sayin...
Re: Waterwheel Falls
January 08, 2012 10:31PM
Quote
riverkat
If you have some flexibility in your schedule you could always spend a night or two in the backpacker's CG in TM before your night in GA and do some day hikes to help you acclimate. Just sayin...
Not legally. The road is closed to overnight traffic.
avatar Re: Waterwheel Falls
January 08, 2012 10:37PM
Quote
hotrod4x5
Quote
riverkat
If you have some flexibility in your schedule you could always spend a night or two in the backpacker's CG in TM before your night in GA and do some day hikes to help you acclimate. Just sayin...
Not legally. The road is closed to overnight traffic.
Mom is talking about summer.

I think, and heck, I could be wrong, but most of the people who want to use all the features of
the High Sierra Camps are not backpackers. Most probably do not have all the gear
and they choose the HSC because they more than likely do not want to own it and they
don't want to carry all that stuff. They want to more or less dayhike the loop and have
a bed and food a waiting.

Have fun mom
(btw... my mom would never do any of it... couldn't even get her to Mirror Lake)
(and she thinks I'm completely and utterly insane for all the stuff I do)



Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Waterwheel Falls
January 08, 2012 11:11PM
Quote
chick-on

Mom is talking about summer.

I think, and heck, I could be wrong, but most of the people who want to use all the features of
the High Sierra Camps are not backpackers. Most probably do not have all the gear
and they choose the HSC because they more than likely do not want to own it and they
don't want to carry all that stuff. They want to more or less dayhike the loop and have
a bed and food a waiting.)


Agree.

But to get acclimated to the elevation, an HSC'er could just spend a couple of days before the HSC dates at the Tuolumne Meadow Lodge, or at the Tioga Pass Resort.


Re: Waterwheel Falls
January 09, 2012 05:44AM
Quote
chick-on
(and she thinks I'm completely and utterly insane for all the stuff I do)

Well, MOST of us think that, chick-on...it's one of the things we love about you! Grinning Devil
Re: Waterwheel Falls
January 09, 2012 03:52PM
Quote
riverkat
If you have some flexibility in your schedule you could always spend a night or two in the backpacker's CG in TM before your night in GA and do some day hikes to help you acclimate. Just sayin...

No she couldn't. She's not a backpacker, as she is staying at the HSC, so she couldn't stay there. Plus there is a one-night limit regardless.
avatar Re: Waterwheel Falls
January 09, 2012 03:58PM
Quote
buster

Plus there is a one-night limit regardless.

In theory...

I've heard that the one-night limit is rarely enforced (though for the fairness of everyone, it ought to be).


avatar Re: Waterwheel Falls
January 09, 2012 04:13PM
Why mention this? What this ends up doing is causing issues for enforcement rangers.
Just follow the rules... it's not that difficult.

OK... and if you decide to not... then just keep it to yourself.



Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Waterwheel Falls
January 09, 2012 05:21PM
Quote
chick-on

Why mention this? What this ends up doing is causing issues for enforcement rangers.
Just follow the rules... it's not that difficult.

OK... and if you decide to not... then just keep it to yourself.


I follow the rules. I was just venting because it's frustrating that many people like to abuse and ignore the rules of the park.

I'm not sure what you mean by "What this ends up doing is causing issues for enforcement rangers"?

It's the Park Service's job to enforce the rules they set forth. Lax enforcement of the rules just encourage more rule breakers. And enforcement rangers are being paid to enforce the park's rules and regulations, so they should diligently enforce them.



avatar Re: Waterwheel Falls
January 09, 2012 05:36PM
In my cynical mind... I read your post as:
"Hey people... the one night limit is rarely enforced... so go for it!"

If it is a well known "fact" then it will be abused... which would cause rangers
to have to deal with an inordinate amount of scofflaws. That's what I meant
by causing them issues. But, yeah, you're right... that is their job.

Honestly not trying to offend or bust your balls... This stuff drives me nuts.
It's in the same realm with me as someone who puts up trip reports and
blatantly says crap about skirting the rules.



Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Waterwheel Falls
January 09, 2012 06:13PM
Quote
chick-on

This stuff drives me nuts. It's in the same realm with me as someone who puts up trip reports and
blatantly says crap about skirting the rules.


It drives me nuts too.

And while I don't necessarily agree with all the park's rules and regulations, out of respect and fairness for everyone involved (and the process how these regulations came about), I try my best to abide by them.

And it drives me nuts that with all the law-enforcement rangers driving around the park roads in their Chevy Blazers and Ford Crown Vics, that there's not enough enforcement about some "quality-of-experience" regulations (like one night only at backpackers camps, or the enforcement of "Quiet Hours" at the park's campgrounds).

These two (the one night limit and quiet hours) ought to be relatively easy to enforce. Others, like building illegal fire rings, are more problematic to enforce, so at least enforce the easier ones for everyones benefit.


Re: Waterwheel Falls
January 12, 2012 09:06AM
Thanks for all the good suggestions. I can't get another night at GA. I called and begged but it is full. So I will get an early start, hike down to Le Conte and back to GA for my one night stay there. I've heard that the TML to GA is the easiest stretch of the HSC loop. Then I hike to May Lake for another night and then back to Tuolumne Meadows.

You guys are right that I am going to the HSC because I don't want to backpack. I did that once 25 years ago and was miserable. Just couldn't take all that weight on my back. The HSC loop is perfect for people like me. Last year I went from TML to Vogelsang to Merced Lake and then the 14 miles down to Happy Isles. I've never had such a great hiking experience in my life. So I'm really looking forward to hiking on the north side of Tioga Road this summer.

With no snow so far, the waterwheels may not be wheeling much this summer anyway.
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