Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Muir's March: Day 4

Tuesday, September 15

We woke early for a long hike. We had a quick cereal breakfast, said goodby to the fishermen and started out before the heat of the day. We headed down Waterwheel Falls, stopped to cool down at a bridge over a creek that was flowing even now, then over and around Muir Gorge. This was a 400 ft vertical climb on a day we dropped more than 1000 ft from our camp sight.

We crossed thru an area recently burned in a fire set by the park service. Much ash, trees down black and even fir resistant manzanita charred. At one point, a tree had recently fallen on the trail, and was still partly on fire. We stopped at a group of river pools to rest. Several of us took a dip.

As we continued thru the canyon, the walls towered above us on both sides, especially to the south. Like Yosemite Valley, the granite was smooth at places, with spires and buttresses and chutes and swirls. As we descended, the air grew warmer and the forest became dominated by pines, sierra spruce and firs, with oak trees also appearing, some in their autumn foliage.

At the end of the gorge segment, we rested by a bridge where a waterfall plunged down to in Spring, but the creek was dry. Rob and Theresa rushed ahead, and I did my best to keep up with them, to no avail as the heat and the length of the hike got to me. I lost the trail briefly then retraced my steps, found the path and continued on to camp.

Eden knew of this lovely spot in a bend in the river. Our own private Yosemite: cascading pools, towering granite walls to the south with traces of waterfalls springing from the top. We can thank the SFPUC for making this wonderland so remote that few ever see it. We set up camp and spent the afternoon swimming in the pools, the water was slightly warmer, and watching Eden and Patrick shoot down water slides formed in the granite, including a 9 ft vertical drop.

I found one stretch that looked very safe and went down several times. To induce my son Gabriel to the next trip, I had David take a photo as I shot down. Patrick later derided my adventure as a kiddy ride.

After a dinner invaded by bees attracted by the chicken dinner, we talked by the camp fire about brushes with the law and health care reform and retired. I was worried about mosquitos but felt no bugs in my lean-to that night.

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