April 6, 2019
Chilnualna Falls Trail
Total distance walked: 8.4 miles, and 2300 feet of climbing
We’re back! It had been six years since Andrew and I last hiked the Chilnualna Falls trail—what used to be our annual hike. At long last, we decided to hike it again.
We headed to the trailhead located in the Wawona area of Yosemite National Park. Starting at a brisk pace, the three of us—Andrew, Sarah and I—made our way from the parking lot to the lower section of falls. Chilnualna Falls is a series of waterfalls that twists through a narrow canyon. It can only be seen a section at a time.
At the lower falls, water headed ever downward, crashing through boulders and throwing mist into the cool morning air.
Walking with the eye of the curious, we saw many things.
Rich green moss grew on rocks and trees creating a plushy carpet.
Soggy moss thrived in rivulets that dribbled down sparkling granite.
Fluorescent stringy stuff draped the ruby-colored trunks of manzanita trees. All of this gave the forest a fairytale feel.
Throughout the trail were at least a dozen toppled trees adding an air of mystery to the woods. We climbed over, under and around them never knowing what we would run into next.
Wind whipping through the tree tops added texture and sound to the day. It was the high pitched voice that accompanied the deep bass of the cascading Chilnualna Creek.
The forest floor was matted and damp. There were many little streams that trickled over the trail. Water surging toward lower land added another voice to nature’s wild music.
We continued the uphill slog around a slew of switchbacks. The higher we climbed, the more snow we encountered.
The switchbacks ended at a granite staircase leading to the brink of the falls. It was covered with snow. At this point I sent the lovebirds on by themselves. I turned back and enjoyed the richness of my surroundings, taking a deeper look at the beauty of the trail.
Contorted manzanita branches aged with patina.
A jigsaw puzzle of tree bark.
An array of fungi, lichen and moss, but no wildflowers.
Sitting on a boulder, I faced upper falls. Two tiny ant-like people made their way down the chute of snow—Andrew and Sarah.
It wasn’t long before the three of us were reunited.
Though we’ve hiked this trail many times, this time we hiked it with our senses attuned to nature. It was like hiking it for the first time.