Yosemite Hikes

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Rancheria Creek

Early in the season, before higher places in the sierra thaw, the northern region of Yosemite National Park offers a nice trail to Rancheria Creek. It's about 8 miles on flat scenic trail to the campsite. In the winter, this will be the only campsite available, as everywhere else is either far to steep or sun-exposed chaparral.

Like most places in Yosemite, hiking around Rancheria Creek is elevation intensive. I was resting at a fine spot on the trail for about five minutes. When I moved to leave, this Mountain King Snake moved as well. It was only about 30 inches long and had it not moved, I would not have seen it at all. I quickly got out my tiny Gitzo 026 tripod and put on the longest lens I had...a 100-300mm f/4.5-5.6. This little snake was winding its way amongst the rocky cobbles that lined the uphill side of the trail.
There was a great deal of water along the way. The creek filled parts of the forest with mist in the more turbulent spots. It ran along side the Rancheria Creek campsite. The second day I was there, it warmed up and the river rose a full foot, causing some of the campers to wonder if they should move back a bit. Camping next to a river like this can be very loud.

This is the first bear picture I took, although I saw about 8 bears total on this hiking trip. Click here to read a story of how this picture was taken. There was little flat land except for the trail itself and the campsite. The rest of the land was very steep even for wildlife. Also, I went to this location in very early spring. Wapama Falls was running hard enough on my hike out that I got quite a scary dousing!

When you are hiking, be sure to have your camera ready. One the way back from Rancheria Creek, these two Alligator Lizards were right in the middle of the trail and could scarcely be bothered by the odd hiker strolling by. Whether this is a mating ritual or a territorial behavior, I don't know.

All photos Copyright © by Adam Lane. All rights reserved.