Hetch Hetchy

Hetch Hetchy Valley from O’Shaunessy Dam.

The Logging Road Cyclist on occasion finds himself in Oakdale, in California’s Central Valley. It is his good fortune to be acquainted there with two rabid cyclists who share his penchant for painful riding. From time to time the RC’s (RC1 and RC2) spare TLRC and take him on a pleasant ride that delights without requiring at least 5000′ of climbing. This Hetch Hetchy ride is one, and TLRC heartily recommends it to anyone who finds themselves with a bicycle in the vicinity of Yosemite.  The out-and-back ride (gpx) is all

RC1 at the start of the ride.

pavement and leaves Highway 120 at Cherry Lake Road, east of Groveland.  The 20-odd miles to Hetch Hetchy starts out with a bit of a climb up to the old Hetch Hetchy railroad grade. Once attained, the grade provides pretty easy riding all the way to Hetch Hetchy and back, with fantastic views into the Tuolumne River Canyon, the High Sierra beyond, and ultimately of course, Hetch Hetchy.

The High Sierra north of the Tuolumne drainage.

Tuolumne River in the Poopenaut Valley.

The Muse was strong in TLRC on this ride. Having spent much of his youth on and around the Tuolumne, he was inspired to capture the canyon with his new camera and bring home the resulting Content to share here. Unfortunately his partner that day, RC1, was immune to  TLRC’s muse, while at the same time suffering from a physiological condition that

Section of guardrail made from the old Hetch Hetchy railroad. RC1 feigning patience

makes it difficult to stop on a ride once riding has begun. The ride was thus suffused with a minor tension: Artiste vs Gogetter. Not to worry, the TLRC-RC1 relationship is long standing and in the end, an understanding was reached.

Hetch Hetchy is, of course one of the storied examples how the environmental movement  was unable to prevent the desecration of one of nature’s wonders by the powers-that-be, in a National Park, no less.  Standing on the dam that floods this minor Yosemite, TLRC found himself in a somber mood while trying to imagine this lovely canyon without the still lake and infamous bathtub ring. He also found himself reflecting on an article he read in his youth by the climber/photographer Galen Rowell, who, after completing a few climbs here,  pondered which wilderness had been destroyed: the silent, empty Hetch Hetchy, or the frenetic, overcrowded Yosemite. Heresy; but, as TLRC looked up and down the dam at the 3 other visitors and pondered the congestion at a similar Yosemite overlook on such a day as this, he felt Rowell’s ambiguity.