Pop quiz. I hiked to Glen Aulin today because it provided one of the few trails in Tuolumne that:
a) wasn’t covered with snow
b) didn’t possess hip-height stream crossings
c) did not have mosquitoes
d) promised roaring waterfalls
And the answer…………….all but d) did not have mosquitoes are correct!
In the over fifteen years I’ve been hiking in the Sierras, I have never used bug repellent—until this year. Being a New Englander, the occasional mosquitoes one encounters in California is nothing to the swarms that descend upon the hapless hiker in the east (yes, I am exaggerating to a point). My father, when he visits, loves California’s “bug free environment” (his words). This year, the abundance of water has also provided a fruitful breeding ground for the bloodsuckers, and I have the battle scars to prove it.
I did get a reward for being feasted upon. The waterfall at Glen Aulin poured into the basin with such force that it caused a surf to hit the shore near the abandoned high sierra camp. The water has transformed the landscape this year, reminding its neighbors that it is not always gentle in it travels. The river has burst at the seams, pouring into meadows and over granite, using both as clay as it shapes its surroundings.
For those of you who may have read my article about Jim Snyder in the last issue of Yosemite, I waded through a boggy meadow to take a photograph of the arch he helped design and build over thirty years ago, the first true Roman arch constructed in the backcountry. It provides hikers with a dry path where the river typically overflows. Here’s an excerpt from the article:
“No one on the crew had actually built an arch, but this didn’t deter them in the least. Jim simply read books on nineteenth-century stonemasonry, assigned a mathematically talented crewmember to figure out the exact geometric patterns, and then they carved the granite by superimposing models over the rock. As Jim remembers, it was incredible when they assembled the arch and realized ‘that it had worked just like in the books. No cement was needed—it was just unbelievable.’”