Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Spring Day in Yosemite: Celebrating the Unsung Waterfalls

Springtime in Yosemite! I was there on Sunday, and witnessed the valley at one of the most beautiful times of the year. In the last post, I concentrated on Yosemite's most famous waterfall, Yosemite Falls, especially the Upper Fall. Spring is also a great time to see some of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world that aren't really well known, including the actual highest waterfall in Yosemite Valley. That waterfall would be Ribbon Fall, which drops 1,612 feet, which is nearly 200 feet taller than Upper Yosemite Falls, which only drops 1,425 feet. Ribbon is not as famous because it has a small drainage and thus only flows for part of the year.
The other waterfalls are not well known because they are a bit difficult to see. Silver Strand Fall is a 574 foot fall that suffers because it is best seen from the Wawona Tunnel View, and 99% of the people who stop there are looking at one of the most famous panoramas in the national park system:
Yeah, that one...
Next time, after enjoying the incredible view of the valley, turn 90 degrees to your right, and look up...way up. If it is flowing, it is a pretty waterfall, though it is hard to get a shot with the sun shining on the cliff. Late afternoon probably is the best time to check it out.
I walked a stretch of trail that I have missed in the past, along the Merced River between the Horse Stables and Happy Isles. I looked up and saw a waterfall I've not seen from the valley floor before: 370 foot high Illilouette Fall. This first shot below gives an idea of how tricky it is to see...
Zooming in gives a better idea of the setting, but from this angle there is no clue to how interesting the fall is in a complete view. You have to hike about four miles from Glacier Point to see the best view. I haven't been there yet, but here is a nice shot from someone else.
If you get to Yosemite and you've seen the famous spots, I have a mission for you: find the unsung waterfalls. There are lots more to find: Sentinel, Royal Arch Cascades, Lehamite, Staircase, Horsetail, Widow's Tears, and more that I haven't found out about yet.
To wrap up, I'm tossing in a familiar fall looking a bit less familiar. The wind was blowing across the top of Bridalveil, making the fall look twice as wide as it actually is.

Yosemite is a wonderful place....
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