June 19, 2011

Wing It and I were forced to turn around from our hike shortly after leaving Tuolumne Meadows.We experienced significant high water in the 15 Miles North of Tuolumne Meadows. The Tuolumne River overflowed the ends of the bridge at 947.4 and the one shortly after. Our real problems were in Virginia Canyon (956.7). The first crossing, McCabe Creek, was the most dangerous and difficult ford we had encountered to date. However, the next creek was worse. We could not make it across Return Creek. We made 3 attempts, 2 in the evening (5ish) and 1 the next morning (8ish). We scouted 1/2 mile upstream and found no safer crossings.
There was evidence (footprints in the snow), that some or all of the 4 hikers ahead of us turned back as well.
Our decision to leave and flip ahead are based on 2 primary factors. The Return Creek crossing is not known as a particularly difficult ford, whereas the Piute River ford and Kerrick Canyon fords just ahead are. All indications are that water levels are not going to be going down significantly soon, and that the peak of the melt has not even happened yet.
However you proceed, best of luck and safe hiking.
Don’t Panic and Wing It