Woods Creek and Lakes

Woods Creek and Lakes

The very top of "The Mist Falls Switchbacks", the toughest hike of the day. "The Sphinx" can be seen to the left, with Buck Peak to the right.

The Mist Falls Switchbacks

Woods Creek and Lakes, SEKI, Spring 2005

If you are doing this hike, time to gird your loins, or whatever you do for a tough stretch. There is a good reason to rest at Mist Falls, because coming right up is "The Mist Falls Switchbacks". The last time I had been on that trail I had a broken leg and was riding a mule, which is a real interesting experience. There you are, perched on the top of a large live animal, looking straight down a swath of switchbacks. You hope the mule knows what it's doing.

We fairly zipped up the switchbacks and up the trail. There was still climbing to do but not too bad. At one point there is a favorite spot of mine: the trail climbs up to a big flat rock platform with a great view down canyon (see the first page of the story). Coming down-trail it looks like the trail dead-ends until you spot the trail stairs on the left. Horse packers like to to ride their clients to the end of the platform for the marvelous view. Day hikers should plan to go at least this far.

Beyond the platform, the trail meanders on, still climbing, now in occasional shade. We slogged on and it became obvious we were reaching the Paradise Valley entrance.

The Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne and Falls

Further beyond the switchbacks you meet the the trees and undergrowth of  the beginning of Paradise Valley. Buck Peak fin towers above. You can see Dave down the trail, a small figure.

Just as you enter Paradise Valley you will see a tremendous log-jam at the valley outlet on your right. You could build a small town from all the lumber. It looks like God's pick-up sticks. When I saw the jam I knew that the trail would be relatively level from there to Upper Paradise Valley. Still a bunch of little ups and downs ahead, but manageable.

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