On July 22, we posted a stunning full-color image of Hetch Hetchy Valley. The image is actually a composite, using recent photos of the cliffs surrounding the existing reservoir, borrowing the Tuolumne River from Tuolumne Meadows upstream, and planting a few full-grown trees. It would be nice of we had color images of the actual valley, of course, but that is the whole point. This stunning valley, said to be comparable to Yosemite Valley itself, has been buried under 300 feet of water since the O'Shaughnessy Dam was completed in 1923.
There are a variety of sources for pre-dam photos of Hetch Hetchy Valley, including the Sierra Club and Sierra Nevada Photos. Both include this photo, taken by Mr. Taber from surprise point.
What you see here is pretty much what you see from visiting the dam - about 2 miles worth of the Hetch Hetchy Valley. The entire valley is about 9 miles long - about the same as Yosemite Valley. Many have pointed out that Yosemite Valley is wider and larger in area, with taller cliffs and more waterfalls. That is all true, of course, but Hetch Hetchy's glacial history left a cleaner and narrower cut through the granite, one we would like to see and explore up close.
Finally, to get an idea of how the reservoir has covered the valley floor, at least its last two miles, check out the version of the Taber photo from the Sierra Nevada Photos website and scroll your mouse over it.
Oh, and please visit www.hetchhetchy.org and find out how you can help restore Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park.