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Yosemite Hetch Hetchy Memorial Day Weekend Adventure

Updated: Jul 11, 2023

Our photos from our annual Memorial Trip to Yosemite National Park. This year was a little different. With Highway 120 being closed, denying access to Yosemite Valley and requiring the very brave to enter the park via Highway 140 with 2 to 3 hour wait times at the Highway 140 Yosemite entry point. So, not wanting to deal with that traffic mess we decided to pay a visit to one spot in Yosemite that many visitors tend to ignore – Hetch Hetchy.

Hetch Hetchy is the official “Black Eye” of Yosemite the federal government damming up the original valley after the 1906 earthquake to provide drinking water to San Francisco residents. There is still a BIG push to remove the dam and restore the valley to its natural beauty. It’s also funny how so many of the visitors to Hetch Hetchy seem to think the dam was there BEFORE the park.

With Highway 120 being closed inside the park it was smooth sailing to Hetch Hetchy with the highway turning into a ghost town after Groveland. However, there was a back-up at the Hetch Hetchy entry point due to all the parking lots (all one of them) being full requiring the Park Rangers to hold all of us that got there early at the Ranger Station. This was a blessing in disguise with the Rangers letting us into the Park for free (Us: Do we have to pay? Rangers: Not on my watch!) and recommending that we try hiking the underused “Look-Out Loop” trail near the station. Although the Rangers used numerous ‘red flag’ terms in describing the hike: “Modest gain” “Take water” “Its only about 3 miles round trip” T we took up the challenge and found the trail to be quite fun and beautiful to hike with the reward taking you to the top of a granite boulder with views of the entire Hetch Hetchy Valley, Dam, roaring waterfalls, and took you through the “devastated area” which allowed you to watch the forest rebuilding itself after the devastating wildfires years ago.

The only problem with the adventure were that Hetch Hetchy has a nightly curfew kicking hikers the area at sunset. Normally we go to Yosemite at night to avoid the crowds and take night photos of the valley, not to be this time. Also, the hiking detour at the Ranger Station meant when we did get down to the dam, we would have enough time to hike to the waterfalls. A small price to pay because a “packed” Hetch Hetchy with visitors still had tons of space compared to a packed Yosemite Valley which is nightmare for us Shutterbugs.

All Rights Reserved, Oakland Photo Vault 2023


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