Hiking at Hetch Hetchy in Yosemite National Park

We started out at the Hetch Hetchy Campground, in Yosemite National Park, and spent the evening there before making a short backpacking trip up to Laurel Lake and back.   It’s only a 5 or 10 minute walk to the O’Shaughnessy Dam from the campground, so we headed over there before it got dark to check it out.  We had taken care of reservations a while back.  Our lodging: our tents, hammocks, or just sleeping bags.

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The reservoir appeared to be pretty full, which is good drought news!  Looking at the dam, I couldn’t help but wonder what the valley must have looked like before the dam was built.. and what our water situation in the Bay Area would be like without it.  We read about the construction of the dam, John Muir’s opposition, and the interesting Pelton turbines used for power generation.


We returned to the campsite, had dinner, and spent some time together under the stars before going to bed.  The milky way was easily visible, as well as multiple planets – I think Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn were out.


The view from the tent:


It was a warm night and a warm morning.  Lots of neat driftwood in the Hetch Hetchy reservoir.


The metal signs were nice to look at, but I don’t think very accurate.  Perhaps the trails have changed over the years.  The below sign indicated that Laurel Lake was 7.6 miles away, but by my measurements, we only backpacked 6.9 miles.  We did not go to Beehive meadows.


There was quite a variety of scenes in those 6.9 miles though.  Mossy pines:IMG_4245m

White flowers.  I tried to study the wildflower sign before I left, but sadly did not remember any of them.


Waist-high ferns in a previously fire-damaged area that was coming back to life.  The abundance of sunlight due to the lack of trees made for a verdant scene.


After making it to the lake, we all jumped in to cool off and refresh ourselves.


It was a nice site, with very few traces of humans who had been here previously.IMG_4193m

We weren’t far off from the solstice, so we were treated to a lot of daylight.IMG_4211m

Christian tried fly fishing, without much luck, unfortunately.IMG_4212m

Laurel Lake was still by 11pm.IMG_4227m

I managed to sleep pretty well, so I didn’t catch the lake at dawn.  But the water was pretty glassy at around 8am.


We had a leisurely breakfast and then made our way back towards the reservoir.

Just before a stream crossing: this butterfly was still alive, but not doing so well.

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Another photo of the previously fire-damaged area.IMG_4262m

We managed to see a bear on our way back, near the dam.  I didn’t take photos of it because I was shooting with a prime lens and my other lens was tucked away in my backpack.


We started and ended the hike at the dam, which was at about 2950 feet elevation.  According to the GPS, we maxed out at around 6600 feet near Laurel Lake.