As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, I misread the topo map for the hike from Lake Vernon to Tiltil Valley. I saw the trail went over a couple of contour lines, then followed the contour around the mountain and down into the valley. Figuring they were 80 foot contours, I figured it would be a piece of cake.
We set out and started climbing. And climbing. Climbing, climbing, climbing! I thought we’d never stop going up. I know we climbed more than 160-180 feet, which is what I expected. Getting to Tiltil Valley, I checked the map and found out that the contour interval was 200 feet, not 80!
Tiltil Valley was a dream. It’s a lush meadow bisected by a creek with trees all along its banks. It’s just how I pictured the terrain around Rivendell in The Lord of the Rings. It was a clear night, but in the morning the fog rolled in from Hetch Hetchy, advancing up the valley like a cautious invader.
The hike from Tiltil back to Hetch Hetchy was indescribable. I just couldn’t hike fast—there was just too much that screamed out to stop and be examined. There was one plant that at first looked like it had bunches of purple balls for flowers, but when I looked closer it was some sort of violet (I guess) that hadn’t quite bloomed yet. I stood there for some time just watching it—it was so beautiful.