Today, I visited our Hill Studio Store and Visitor Center at the Wawona Hotel to conduct some employee training, and my shameful neglect of the southern area of the park was exposed. When one of my new employees asked advice about hiking trails in Wawona, I had to admit that my travels in the area had been limited to Chilnualna Falls and the Mariposa Grove. I had been a victim of Wawona-blindness, a fairly common yet curably ailment. Once the snow melts and the pass opens, I become Tuolumne focused and tend to forget that some wonderful hiking exists in the southern area of the park.

According to Jeffery Schaffer's Yosemite National Park: A Natural History Guide to Yosemite and Its Trails (one of my favorite hiking guides), the Wawona area boasts some excellent yet little used hiking trails. A foray along Bishop Creek in springtime will reward one with a view of a rainbow of wildflowers. Another backpack Schaffer outlines visits seven lakes including Royal Arch, Buena Vista, and Chilnuala. And how could I have missed exploring the tranquil shores of Chain Lakes near Chiquito Pass?

This season, I make a solemn promise to alternate my explorations in Wawona and Tuolumne. If you don't find some journal entries describing hikes in southern Yosemite, email me about fulfilling my promise!