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268. Cascade Creek (06/03/02)

Hikers (5): Cynthia, Damon, Peter, Russ, Steve
Distance: 11 miles
Rating: 2 difficulty, 8 beauty
Park info: Yosemite National Park

Write-up by Peter

This was the final hike of the Yosemite weekend. The original plan was for Damon, Changhong, Gina and I to do Half Dome and the rest of the gang to do El Capitan. But on the morning of the hike, Changhong and Gina decided to sit this one out. Damon was still rarin' to go, but my back was still sore from the previous day, so I was hesitant. After some discussion, we decided to all go to El Cap and save Half Dome for another day.

We headed out of the valley and up the Tioga Pass road. We were supposed to turn off on an abandonded road and drive three miles to the trailhead at Tamarack Flat. From there, the round trip to El Capitan would be 14 miles. We turned off on what we thought was the right place, but the road was closed off. Hmmmm ... we headed back to the main road and kept driving. We had driven past this same area yesterday and I hadn't seen any signs for Tamarack Flat. I had a bad feeling about this.

About twenty minutes later, we found ourselves at the White Wolf campground. We had definitely overshot. We pulled off to the side of the road and checked the maps. I figured it had to be the place where we had originally stopped, so we did a quick U-turn and headed back. Time was a-wastin'!

We pulled off back at the abandoned road. The road was closed, so this meant we would have to do 6 additional miles of walking, making it a 20-mile hike if we wanted to go all the way to El Capitan. Seeing as we were off to a late start, it seemed that El Cap was out of the question. This would be the second day in a row that our well-intentioned plans would come up short.

After consulting the map, we decided to walk to Cascade Creek and back, making for an 11-mile round trip. Unfortunately more than half of it would be on paved road, but we were running out of options.

1, 2, 3, ... INCH!

We walked for 3 miles down the paved road to Tamarack Flat. The campground was abandonded but looked to be in good shape, and it was not clear why the road had been closed. There were a couple of potholes and a couple of fallen trees across the road, but it looked like all it needed was some minor maintenance. We rested briefly at the campground and Cynthia and I stashed some water for the return trip.

From here it was two and half miles down to Cascade Creek. The trail was a wide road which had fallen into disrepair, but it looked like people had been able to drive all the way down in the not-too-distant past. It was too bad the road was not still open, but it did give us a chance to enjoy the solitude of the woods as we walked along.

We crossed the creek and stopped to have lunch. It was beautiful and quiet in the heart of the woods. The only disturbance was the sound of Cynthia shrieking as she dropped her sock in the creek (but she was able to retrieve it). After a short lunch, we geared up to head back. We had momentary thoughts of pressing on towards El Cap, but in the end we decided that would not be wise at this point (especially for me, since I had left most of my water behind at the campground), so we reluctantly headed back.

The road back was a little more challenging since it was uphill all the way, but it was a gentle climb. My back was sore and I had to stop for rest back at the campground, but The Man never even broke a sweat the whole way. We could hear the sounds of helicopters overhead and joked that the rangers were coming to get us. As we later found out, they were actually on a rescue mission -- a climber had fallen while scaling El Capitan and they were going to bail him out.

Back at the car, we threw off our boots and opened some nice cold beer. The hike had not been what we had planned, but it had been a fun trip anyway and it sure as heck beat sitting in our cubicles on a Monday afternoon. This is what it's all about!

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