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Chilnualna Falls and Lake
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Overnight backpack following Chilnualna Creek past the falls to the first Chilnualna Lake
Topo of the area

Left the bay area around 4am Saturday for the ~3 hour drive out to Yosemite. Took 120 through the valley and then 41 south to Wawona. The recent snowmelt had the valley falls at impressive flow levels and all of the seasonal falls were visible.

Stopped at the store near the Wawona hotel for some extra food and rented a bear can, then stopped off at the ranger station for a backcountry permit. The trailhead is towards the end of Chilnualna Falls road, the turnout for which is right across the bridge from the Wawona Hotel. I parked at the trailhead, loaded up the pack, and departed around 9am.

My original intention was to attempt to make it to Buena Vista Crest on the first day and then return via a loop of the peak. A combination of snow, routefinding difficulties, and creek crossings had me falling a couple miles short of the crest. (There's a substantially less strenuous route to the crest by leaving from the Bridalveil Creek campground, but I had never seen Chilnualna Falls so I opted to start from Wawona). The weather was near perfect- highs in the 80s, overnight lows in the 40s and clear blue skies for most of the day. The trail below the falls was reasonably crowded with a steady stream of dayhikers, but I didn't encounter anyone else past the first creek crossing.

It was extremely wet above 7500 feet, with vernal streams flowing over much of the trails and still enough snow cover to make routefinding difficult. The trails were not marked with tree tags the trails were frequently obscured by snow or water. (The fact that the trail crew clears downed trees from the trails helped in many of these cases- a clean cut log or branch is a clear indicator that the trail is nearby). Used the GPS to navigate when needed.

The night passed without incident and I was up at dawn (~5am). Took a shot at reaching the crest in the morning, but hit solid snow cover at about 8700 ft. Returned to camp, packed up, and started back down around 7. The return 12 miles was all downhill and went pretty quick, though the lower elvataions were pretty hot. Was back at the trailhead and back on the road by 1.
TL
Topo of the route for the weekend.  Trailhead was in the lower left, campsite in the upper right
BB
Topo of the route for the weekend. Trailhead was in the lower left, campsite in the upper right
Viewed: 370 times.
03/21/2005 09:48 PM
TL
Got to the park a bit early, so I stopped off at the overlook on 41 just past the tunnel.  Shot is of cascade creek tumbling under hwy 120 right before 120 reaches the valley floor.
BB
Got to the park a bit early, so I stopped off at the overlook on 41 just past the tunnel. Shot is of cascade creek tumbling under hwy 120 right before 120 reaches the valley floor.
Viewed: 273 times.
06/07/2003 07:44 AM
TL
Stopped off at the Wawona ranger station to pick up a wilderness permit and a bear cannister before heading to the trailhead.  Loaded up the pack and started up the trail.  Car not dead yet.
BB
Stopped off at the Wawona ranger station to pick up a wilderness permit and a bear cannister before heading to the trailhead. Loaded up the pack and started up the trail. Car not dead yet.
Viewed: 240 times.
06/07/2003 09:00 AM
TL
The first bit of trail overlooked lower Chilnualna falls.  Massive amount of water in the falls this weekend.
BB
The first bit of trail overlooked lower Chilnualna falls. Massive amount of water in the falls this weekend.
Viewed: 268 times.
06/07/2003 09:19 AM
TL
Trailsign near the trailhead, around 4200 feet.  (Really tough to take good pictures of the cutout style yosemite trailsigns).  4 miles and ~2000ft elevevation to the top of the falls.
BB
Trailsign near the trailhead, around 4200 feet. (Really tough to take good pictures of the cutout style yosemite trailsigns). 4 miles and ~2000ft elevevation to the top of the falls.
Viewed: 389 times.
06/07/2003 09:32 AM
TL
The trail veered away from Chilnualna creek after a mile or so.  Were a fair number of day hikers on this section of the trail.
BB
The trail veered away from Chilnualna creek after a mile or so. Were a fair number of day hikers on this section of the trail.
Viewed: 213 times.
06/07/2003 09:59 AM
TL
First glimpse of Chilnualna Falls from the trail.
BB
First glimpse of Chilnualna Falls from the trail.
Viewed: 266 times.
06/07/2003 10:25 AM
TL
Rainbow in the mist from the falls.
BB
Rainbow in the mist from the falls.
Viewed: 251 times.
06/07/2003 11:05 AM
TL
Cascades of Upper Chilnualna Falls, elevation 6500 feet
BB
Cascades of Upper Chilnualna Falls, elevation 6500 feet
Viewed: 369 times.
06/07/2003 11:05 AM
   
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