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Yosemite: Its Wonders and Its Beauties (1868) by John S. Hittell

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HETCHHETCHY.

The Yosemite valley is not the only great chasm in the State. From latitude 35° 80', where Kern river rises, to 38° 30' near the head-waters of the Tuolumne, the higher peaks of the Sierra Nevada—and they number more than a hundred—reach an elevation of 13,000 feet above the level of the sea; and there is an area of three hundred square miles, more than 8,000 feet high. This alpine region was raised to its present altitude by great natural convulsions, and its sides are worn down by fierce torrents. Prof. Brewer, of the State Geological Survey, says:

“Similar valleys or cañons occur on the other rivers south, in the same belt of granite, having the same general features, which are most probably of the same origin. Some are even deeper than Yosemite, but no other one possesses so much to interest the tourist, or is nearly as accessible. Those in the King and Kern rivers are especially deep and grand, but they lack some of the striking features of the Yosemite, especially the immensely high. waterfalls.”

The most accessible of the other grand chasms of the State is the Hetchhetchy or Tuolumne Valley, twelve miles north of Yosemite in a direct line, but forty-seven miles distant by the only trail. It is three thousand eight hundred feet above the sea, three miles long and is cut in two near the middle by a hill which comes down to the edge of the stream. The direction of the valley is east and west; its width, at the widest, half a mile. Near the middle on the northern side, is a perpendicular cliff thirteen hundred feet high above a talus five hundred feet high; and in the spring, while the snow is melting, a large creek makes a splendid cataract over the precipice. Before the end of summer, the stream ceases to flow. Half a mile further east, on the same side, is the Hetchhetchy Fall, seventeen hundred feet high, bat not vertical. The stream is constant, and when large the roaring of its cascades can be heard a long distance. There is very little talus in the valley except under the falls. There are numerous marks of glacial action in the valley, through which, according to Professor Whitney, the big glacier that headed at Mt. Dana and Mt. Lyell, made its way. The valley can be reached from Big Oak Flat, by going eighteen miles on the Yosemite trail to Hardin’s fence; then turning to the left seven miles to Reservoir or Wade’s Meadows; crossing the Middle Fork of the Tuolunme to the Hog Ranch, five miles; thence up a divide between the Middle Fork and the main river two miles to the Cañon Ranch; and six miles down through the rocks to Hetchhetchy Valley. The total distance from Big Oak Flat is thirty-eight miles.


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