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April 13, 2017

Yosemite 3 - Mirror Lake Loop and Tenaya Canyon

Let’s be clear there is no longer a Mirror Lake, back in the day … this was  a favorite swimming hole.  The lake got it’s name from the reflections of Half Dome in its waters.  No more!  After the 1997 flood the dam creating Mirror Lake was removed by the NPS, creating a mud flat that was expected to form a meadow over time … we're still waiting for that meadow!  However Tenaya Creek provides plenty of sediment and water flow to get something growing.

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The trail starts at the end of the Happy Isles bridge, just a few paces beyond the Mist Trail (next post).  This is an easy 5 mi loop (well 6 for us since we also hiked to Happy Isles Smile).  We’ll be going right to left in the elevation profile.

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The trail is quite well maintained and will join Tenaya Canyon beyond the Mirror Lake.
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Altho not known as a ‘scenic’ trail I find it quite nice with the variety of views and vegetation.
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… and mule deer scat
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We soon reach Mirror Lake just below where the dam was … back in the day.  Fran has pictures of me swimming here, even diving off the rocks … back in the day.
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It looks like even the beavers miss the dam, as they take matters into their own ...
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Mirror Meadow is not unpleasant, just not well established, there is sufficient sediment and water to support a meadow.  However, it is tho well visited, aka trampled that it will take a long time.   It would be nice to see deer here next visit.
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As Aj continues to lead the group we enter the lower portion of Tenaya Canyon.
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Where we soon reach the Ahwiyah Rockfall of 2009.  This is the 2nd largest rockfall recorded in the valley.  The trail remained closed for ~2.5 years as the trail was rerouted and tests made for the danger of additional rock falls.
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Shortly past the rock fall is a brief view of lower Snow Creek Falls.  This is another one of those elusive falls, in that it cannot be seen at all from Snow Creek Trail!
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At this point we are approaching the foot bridge for our turnaround point … and the trail gets to be a bit more technical.
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Upstream from the far end of the footbridge there is a rock scramble can be made to Tenaya Creek Falls.  The creek is too high to consider the diversion and we return on the south side of Tenaya Creek here.
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Several times along the trail we see these beautiful tiny blue butterflies with their white under sides. 
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And while I’m looking at butterflies Kg is taking a few pictures and movies of a young black bear feasting on the bugs it finds in an old log just off the trail.
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Kg had the presence of mind to make a video:
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I noticed that Fran was now leading instead of Aj when I took this picture, but I did not give it a second thought.
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We return to Mirror Lake now on the south side of the lake/meadow.
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Kg captured the best picture of the ‘mirror’ that can be seen at the lake when there’s sufficient water.
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Carins are fun to see and fun to make.  There are a lot on the south side of Mirror Lake.
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This is not just a cute photo of Kg comforting her kid sister, Aj split a toenail on this hike, ah that's why she slowed down, and we have Vernal/Nevada Falls tomorrow … stay tuned!
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Next up Vernal and Nevada Falls via the Mist and John Muir Trails ….
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