John Muir and Yosemite – Update

Last April I posted an article about John Muir and his association with Yosemite. I commented about his trek to Yosemite from San Francisco that took him over the Pacheco Pass. He wrote:

Looking eastward from the summit of Pacheco Pass one shining morning, a landscape was displayed that after all my wanders still appears as the most beautiful I have ever beheld. At my feet lay the Great Central Valley of California, level and flowery, like a lake of pure sunshine, forty or fifty miles wide, five hundred miles long, on rich furred garden of yellow Compositae.

He went on to say he saw the Sierra Nevada “…miles in height…so radiant, it seemed not clothed with light, but wholly composed if it…” I could go on, but i’d end up reprinting all his books. What an elegant writer! But I digress.

Satellite View of Pacheco Pass

I mentioned in the post that I doubt if, today, you could even see to the I-5 from the pass (I-5 runs up and down the valley near the western side of the valley hugging the foothills of the coastal range, which is what the Pacheco Pass crosses), let along across the whole valley. In late September of this year (2016) I was on a trip to the bay area and stopped in the Pacheco Pass to take this photo, just to see how far I could see. As you can tell, you can’t see much beyond the O’Neill Forebay (see the Satellite Map from Google). I took the photo from the Romero Visitor Center parking lot which was the farthest up the pass as I could get before the hills obstructed the view. The image shows California Highway 152 (Pacheco Pass Road). The I-5 would be on the far side of the Forebay shown at near the horizon. The red arrow on the accompanying map is about where I stood to take the photo. Even after enlarging the photo, I could not see to the freeway and certainly not all the way to the Sierras. As you can see from the photo, not seeing to the Sierras is a function of the haze, but not seeing to the freeway may be a problem with the elevation. There is some public areas near there. Pacheco State Park is up the road a bit (to the west) and on the north side of the road is the Cottonwood Creek Wildlife Area…maybe some time I can get there and see what I can see.

I have updated the John Muir post to include this photo (above) and its significance.