Being Irish, I felt a certain duty to check out the valley in Tuolumne whose name came from the Gaelic tongue (Gleann Alainn is the traditional spelling). Glen Aulin always seemed out of place in a region with landmarks named for western explorers and scientists, and with Native American terms and references to obscure (and not so obscure) anecdotal legends. (The naming of Lost Bear Meadow is my favorite obscure story. A little girl, Shirley Miller, was lost for three days in the park. When her rescuers finally found her she replied, “I am not lost but the bear is lost. He went away and got lost.”) Glen Aulin seems more appropriate to a landmark in a Tolkien tale or the Irish countryside than Yosemite. But then again, Yosemite does have Ireland Lake.
I’ve avoided in my travels the more popular Tuolumne hikes like Sunrise, Volgelsang, and Glen Aulin, preferring to seek out areas of more solitude. For my first “test hike” after rupturing a disk in my back, I decided to take a more populated route in case my back decided to be a poor sport. And I had heard of the beautiful waterfalls in Glen Aulin and wanted to see them for myself.
Although my back did not cooperate, and I hiked with a fair amount of pain, my reward was watching the Tuolumne River flow by me gracefully as I strode along the trail, and seeing the personalities of Tuolumne and California Falls, and White Cascade. I stopped by the Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp, and gave a message to the manager of the camp, Tom, a friend of Steve (our President). Tom told me stories of his travels around the globe and asked me to scold Steve for not including the position of the S.F. Giants in the standings.
I camped near California Falls, and sat near the river, watching the land and its inhabitants prepare for sleep. A deer walked into my camp noiselessly, gazed at me for a moment, and continued on her search for a bed. Fish jumped out of the water, searching for their evening feast, competing with the bats overhead for the unlucky insects.