Last Hike of Summer

September 19, 2013
Yosemite Valley Trail
Total distance:  2.5 miles

A gentle breeze blew high in the treetops as I began the last hike of summer 2013.  I was going to walk over the Old Big Oak Flat Road (OBOFR) also known as the Rockslides Trail.  It’s a hidden trail not found in the usual Yosemite guide books or on most maps.  From the trail there are spectacular views of Bridalveil Fall,  El Capitan, Half Dome and the valley below.

El Capitan, taken from the parking area.

El Capitan, taken from the parking area.

OBOFR is historic, which was the main reason I wanted to hike it.  It was the second road to reach Yosemite Valley, completed in 1874.  The old wagon road was a toll road to start, the average rate to cross being fifty cents per passenger.  Finding it, however, was an adventure in itself.

Cathedral Rocks from the parking area.

Cathedral Rocks from the parking area.

Before leaving, I checked the Internet.  One blog gave photos and landmarks such as: go beyond the “wood lot” with a picture of a big pile of cut wood.  Another guide said, “a large number of logs are piled up near a small parking area”.  Both said to find road marker V9.  I found marker V9 but did not find the aforementioned logs or wood lot.

Road marker.

Road marker.

Beyond V9 in the woods was a walking trail.  I headed west on the shaded path for a short distance until reaching Northside Drive and the Pohono Bridge—the wrong direction.

Although the trail was in the busy valley, I was alone here.

Although the trail was located in the busy valley, I didn’t see a soul.

At Northside Drive, I turned around and walked back beyond my starting point and continued walking for over a mile.  I saw large piles of berry-filled bear scat on the trail.  Weaving my way through the forest I could hear the trees creek and see the cars on Northside Drive.  As I approached the granite monolith, El Capitan, I kept my eyes peeled for the unmarked trail up to OBOFR.

My view while walking: El Capitan.

My view while walking: El Capitan.

The late summer sun peeked through the forest green pines.  The lanky pines towered over stalky dogwoods adorned with bright green leaves.  Below the dogwoods on the forest floor grew leafy green ferns.  I was surrounded by many shades of green.

The dogwood will lose its leaves in fall.

The dogwood will lose its leaves in fall.

Having no luck in finding the old road, I sat on a boulder and checked the National Geographic map of Yosemite Valley.  It showed the Rockslides but no trail.  In retrospect, I should have brought the NPS/Yosemite Conservancy map.  Looking at it at home, I saw the unmarked road as a slight, white horizontal line.  The unmarked path up to the road was not far from where I stopped on the trail.  OBOFR looks on the NPS map, just as it looks when you stand back and view the rock slides from a distance.

The rock slides.  Notice the faint trail beginning on the right of the image about 1/3 up from the bottom.

The rock slides. Notice the faint, horizontal trail in the rock slide beginning on the right of the image about half way up from the bottom.  That’s the trail I was trying to find from the forest below.

A pleasant walk through the forest was a nice way to end summer.  I’ll try to find the Old Big Oak Flat Road another time.

14 thoughts on “Last Hike of Summer

  1. Dad

    I’m sorry you were unable to find the trail you were looking for. But you’ll find it next time. How great it must be, though, to be surrounded by so many fantastic views and such beautiful scenery even when the planned hike is a bust.

    Dad

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    1. Janet Post author

      It was hard to leave the area. I brought a chair and book in the car. I thought about getting lunch then sitting in the shade by the river and reading.

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  2. ellen peterson

    Janet… You create such calmness in the telling of your hikes and adventures. Because of that I feel the desire to get out and find a trail to explore. Then I started wondering… have you thought of, or are you working on a Yosemite trail guide book of your own?

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    1. Janet Post author

      Ellen, it makes me happy that you are inspired to get out on a trail. I’m not working on a Yosemite guide and haven’t thought about doing that. I just love the place. Thank you for reading and your kind words.

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  3. Kathy

    It looks like it was another good hike, even though you couldn’t find exactly what you were looking for. I was fascinated about the fifty cent crossing toll road. Did you go hiking all by yourself this time?

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    1. Janet Post author

      Yes, Kathy, I hiked (walked actually) alone. What I didn’t write about crossing the Old Road was, if you walked it, it only cost 12.5 cents. I should have added that. I wonder when we got rid of the half-cent?

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    1. Janet Post author

      I missed hiking with you this summer too. By the time you get home, it’ll be snowshoeing weather. But you’ve had some pretty awesome experiences in Australia. Love you!

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