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Lights and Shadows of Yosemite (1926) by Katherine Ames Taylor


The Legend of Po-ho-no

Many people remark upon the capricious cold wind which, even on the warmest days, is often felt to blow in the vicinity of Bridal Veil Falls. While the white man pauses to admire the gossamer veil of spray, the Indian hurries past, face averted, a dread fear in his heart. Po-ho-no signifies to him “Evil Wind,” and his fear of it is founded in the following myth:

One soft spring day, while the women of Ah-wah-nee were gathering grasses for basket weaving above the top of Po-ho-no, or, as we know it, Bridal Veil Falls, one of the maidens ventured near the edge of the water to pick an overhanging grass. She stepped upon a mossy rock, set there to lure her by Po-ho-no, the Evil One who inhabits the mist, and, in a twinkling, was snatched into the Falls, never to return. Her companions, horrified, and fearing the same fate, hastened back to the valley to give the alarm. Instantly a band of young braves sped to the foot of the Falls. But no sign of the maiden was to be found. Her spirit, with many others, was imprisoned in the water by Po-ho-no, there to stay till she had succeeded in luring to its doom some other victim, and then, and not until then, would it be released to wander on to the home of the Great Spirit in the West.

So that is why an Indian shudders as he feels the breath of Po-ho-no upon him, and he hastens by, lest he be called upon to pay the forfeit of some tortured spirit.

Some ethnologists, however, interpret Po-ho-no to mean “puffing wind,” a happier and, no doubt, more accurate interpretation.

Bridal Veil Falls, a silvery spray wafted by the winds as it drops 620 feet. PHOTO BY BEST STUDIO
PHOTO BY BEST STUDIO
[click to enlarge]
Bridal Veil Falls, a silvery spray wafted by the winds as it drops 620 feet


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