After a very, very busy weekend, we all decided that Sunday was the Perfect day to get out of the house. So the question was Where should we go? With a view like this when we got to the East side of town, the boys decided we were going to play in the Snow!
While cruising along on our foothill drive, our littlest Mr. got carsick! Poor little guy, he finally fell asleep for about an hour, giving us All some relief!
When we hit the 4,000 foot elevation mark, the traffic was great... the scenery was incredible... the snow... was non-existent! The poor guys in the back seat started asking, "How many more minutes? Are we almost there? Can we get out and go for a hike?"
A little further up the road, we came around the corner to see this beautiful sign welcoming us to one of our National Treasures! Even though we only live about 2 hours from a park entrance, I have never been to Yosemite, and Chris has not been since he was a small boy. We've been talking about taking the boys, but I didn't realize that the Hwy we were on was leading us to a park entrance. Surprise!
Since the road was closed only a short way past the gate, we turned around and headed 20 minutes down the road to another park entrance... to visit the Hetch Hetchy Reservior.
After traveling 7 miles down a Narrow and Winding mountain road, we got our first glimpse of the water and a georgous waterfall on the far side. Please excuse the photos - they are iPhone quality since we left our camera at home, plugged into the charger!
The views were absolutely incredible, and we were finally seeing Snow! Though this was about the extent of the snow we did see, and the boys were most disappointed that we would not be loading up the back of the truck to have a pile to play in at home.
The Hetch Hetchy Reservior is a public water supply, for the people of the city of San Francisco and surrounding areas. We were so glad that we did not come with the intention of catching up on our never ending laundry pile! :)
The reservior project began after the "1906 San Francisco earthquake destroyed key portions of the City of SF's water system. After 3-days of unquenchable fires that followed, claiming more than 4-square miles of land, thousands of buildings and untold number of lives, city leaders needed to pursue a more reliable source of water."
As we rounded the corner, we got our first close-up of the reservior...
and the O'Shaughnessy Dam at the Eastern tip of the Tuolumne River. Absolutely incredible. The Dam is named for the brilliant engineer who master-minded the amazing process, and who passed away only days before the public dedication of the Dam.
The reservior does not only collect and deliver snow-melt drinking water all the way across the state to 2.4 MILLION Bay Area residents, the water also flows through a turbine to create hydro-energy and electricity for California residents as well.
Click <HERE> to see the journey the water takes, from the snow capped mountains, to the cities by the Bay.
"Phase 1 construction of the Dam was completed in 1923 and Phase 2 ended in 1938 when the dam was raisede another 85.5 feet, to 312 feet in height. Present capacity for the reservior is 117 Billion gallons of water, or the equivalent of 177,914 Olympic-sized pools. The dam crest is 910 feet long and 289 feet wide at the base."
The photo above shows a worker next to a "Pelton Wheel, one of the most efficient water turbines for producing hydropower." (The man is standing to the upper right side of the wheel, at approx. One O'clock)
Mr. Carsick was amazed by the "sprinkler"... the water cannon shooting from the turbines into the Tuolumne River. He thought it looked like fun, little did he know he'd be blown about like a leaf if he climbed down to check it out!
Construction of the Hetch Hetchy Dam took 3 1/2 years, and required the installation of a railroad that could operate year round, in mountain conditions, to deliver timber, concrete, employees and visitors to the site. The 68 mile-long railroad Hetch Hetchy Railroad took five years to build, finally completed in 1918 and hauled it's last cargo in 1924.
We walked across the Dam and through the rock tunnel, to get a view from another angle.
The Hetch Hetchy Reservior is home to some of the tallest waterfalls in North America. We were able to see one of them very clearly.
The beautiful 1,400 Foot Wampana Falls is a 2.3 mile hike from the Dam. While the photos can in no way do justice to the incredible landscape, the thought that these falls are 1,400 feet definately helps put a bit of perspective on things.
Our late afternoon visit did not allow time for us to attempt the trip to the falls, as the park would soon be closing. You can bet that we Will be back to hike as far around the Reservior as we can, and feel the spray of the falls as we stand on the footbridge at the base!
On our trip home, we watched the sun set over the California horizon, with a view of Don Pedro Lake before us. Even if we didn't find the snow, we still had a great day!
We are constanty reminded and amazed at how lucky we are to live here in the Golden State. The treasures that California has to offer are endless and we have not even begun to scratch the surface.
I wonder where our next road trip day will lead us?