Photo: Rainbow in LeConte Fall, along the Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park, California

Picture: Rainbow in LeConte Fall along the Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park, California

(Click here to purchase a print or license for use in publications. – tiga-2133)

New Photos added to my Image Archive Library from Yosemite National Park.

I’m happy to announce I’ve added another set of pictures to my searchable, online Image Archive Library which are now available for purchase as wall-decor prints or licensed for use in publications. These photos are a selection from a shoot done a number of years ago while in the production phase of my last book, the award-winning Photographing California; vol.1-North. This particular set of images was shot while on two of the best hikes in Yosemite National Park. The first hike heads out of Tuolumne Meadows, following along the Tuolumne River downstream toward Waterwheel Fall. The second hike is, as the Yosemite National Park website states, “the one hike in the park that you’re most likely to die while doing.”

I’d love to know if you have a favorite image. If you do, please consider leaving a comment to let me know which one(s) you enjoy most. Also, if you have any memories of taking this hike, or you have any pictures from this area that you’d like to share, please feel free to include a link in the comment section.

And be sure to stay tuned for the next post, where you’ll discover why one of the images from this shoot always gets referenced in my slide shows and presentations as a source of sad memories that almost everyone in California knows or has heard about.

Picture: Clearing clouds over mountain ridges, Yosemite National Park, California
Image: Clearing clouds over mountain ridges, Yosemite National Park, California
(Click here to purchase a print or license for use in publications. – tiga-2084)

Part One: Hiking the Tuolumne River

Picture: Mountains above the flooded Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park, California
Image: Mountains above the flooded Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park, California
(Click here to purchase a print or license for use in publications. – tiga-2156)

Picture: Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park, California
Image: Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park, California
(Click here to purchase a print or license for use in publications. – tiga-2088)

The trail that follows the Tuolumne River downstream out of Tuolumne Meadows is one of those great hikes in Yosemite, in that you can make into either a short hike, a (very) long day hike, or an overnight backpacking trip. The primary destination for many is the Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp, where you can spend the night in a tent cabin and dine on some very good, freshly-prepared food. The Glen Aulin camp is approximately five miles downstream from the Tuolumne Meadows trailhead near Lembert Dome. The key part of the word “downstream” to keep in mind is of course, ‘down’–as in once you pass out of the meadows at around 1.5 miles, you’ll be hiking downhill, following the river as it descends toward the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne. This means that for most people, to get back to your vehicle, you’ll be making the return trip hiking back uphill. You can think of it along the same lines as hiking down and back from the rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona, although not as steep.

Picture: Tuolumne Falls, Yosemite National Park, California
Image: Tuolumne Falls, Yosemite National Park, California
(Click here to purchase a print or license for use in publications. – tiga-2090)

For visitors taking a day hike past the meadows, the 5-mile route to Glen Aulin passes several nice waterfalls, including the White Cascade and Tuolumne Falls. For those who choose to make a longer day hike out of Tuolumne Meadows, or for campers staying at the Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp, the ultimate destination is often Waterwheel Fall, located another four miles farther downstream. If you’re not lucky enough to get a backpacking permit or book an overnight stay at the Glen Aulin Camp, the remaining option for visiting Waterwheel Fall is a leg-stretching, 18-mile round-trip hike that descends nearly 3,000 feet of elevation from Tuolumne Meadows. And as previously noted, it will also mean hiking back up the same 3,000 feet on your return trip.

“This isn’t the Waterwheel Fall you were looking for.”


Picture: Waterwheels and rainbow in LeConte Fall, Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park, California
Image: Waterwheels and rainbow in LeConte Falls, Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park, California
(Click here to purchase a print or license for use in publications. – tiga-2126)

Many people who set out on the 9-mile trail from Tuolumne Meadows to see Waterwheel Fall don’t actually make it all the way to their intended destination for one simple and confusing reason, namely the waterwheels that cause them to stop their hike at the wrong waterfall. If you look on Google Images and many stock photo agencies for pictures of Waterwheel Fall, what you’ll actually see are pictures of this waterfall, named LeConte Fall, which is located a mile upstream from the real Waterwheel Fall. It’s easy to understand the confusion, especially when your tired body, after hiking for gosh-only-knows how many miles, steps around a bend in the trail to behold this marvelous torrent of water rushing down a granite apron, with a half-dozen or more airborne streams of water forming the aptly-named waterwheels.

The primary difference is the semantic confusion with plurals. LeConte Fall has many waterwheels (plural), is easy to see and access from the trail, and certainly appears to be appropriately named. On the other hand, Waterwheel Fall has only one large waterwheel (singular), is farther down and not as easy to see or access from the trail.

Picture: Waterwheels in LeConte Fall, Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park, California
Image: Waterwheels in LeConte Falls, Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park, California
(Click here to purchase a print or license for use in publications. – tiga-2102)

Picture: Waterwheels in LeConte Fall, Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park, California
Image: Waterwheels in LeConte Falls, Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park, California
(Click here to purchase a print or license for use in publications. – tiga-2128)

Picture: Waterwheels in LeConte Fall, Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park, California
Image: Waterwheels in LeConte Falls, Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park, California
(Click here to purchase a print or license for use in publications. – tiga-2136)

On this particular solo day hiking trip, I decided not to go farther downstream toward the real Waterwheel Fall, instead opting to stay and shoot the nice light of sunset as it fell across the rushing water and polished granite apron. Once the sun ducked behind the western mountains, I turned and headed back up the trail toward my truck that was parked at Tuolumne Meadows. Eight miles and nearly 3,000 feet of climbing later, I finally arrived back at the trailhead just before 2:00am, having watched the full moon rise over the forest, encountering two bears, and losing the trail on a couple occasions.

Picture: Milky Way stars and night sky over Ellery Lake, near Tioga Pass, just outside Yosemite National Park, California
Image: Milky Way stars and night sky over Ellery Lake, near Tioga Pass, just outside Yosemite National Park, California
(Click here to purchase a print or license for use in publications. – tiga-2189)

Stay tuned for Part Two: The one hike in Yosemite you’re most likely to die while doing.



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Gary Crabbe is an award-winning commercial and editorial outdoor travel photographer and author based out of the San Francisco Bay Area, California. He has seven published books on California to his credit, including “Photographing California; v1-North”, which won the prestigious 2013 IBPA Benjamin Franklin Gold Medal award as Best Regional title. His client and publication credits include the National Geographic Society, the New York Times, Forbes Magazine, TIME, The North Face, Subaru, L.L. Bean, Victoria’s Secret, Sunset Magazine, The Nature Conservancy, and many more. Gary is also a photography instructor and consultant, offering both public and private photo workshops. He also works occasionally a professional freelance Photo Editor.

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