Chilling Cries on the Chilnualna Falls Trail

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Chilling Cries on the Chilnualna Falls Trail

Chilnualna Falls Trail

Hikers on the eight mile Chilnualna Falls Trail have a treacherous journey on their way to Grouse Lake.  Not the easiest to reach or for the faint of heart, the total trip spans over nineteen miles round trip at over seven thousand feet of elevation.  However the trail, located at Yosemite, is a beautiful sight to behold with the wild stretches of forest and open granite filled terrain.

(images:upschuck/flickr) Chilnualna Falls Trail

(images:upschuck/flickr)
Chilnualna Falls Trail

The park was established on October 1, 1890.  Over one hundred and twenty five years later, it is still one of the most visited at nearly four million visitors a year.  While Yosemite was being explored before being named a National Park, Galen Clark, the nation’s first park ranger, tells an intriguing story about his experiences in the park.  He was actively involved in writing the legislation of 1863, signed by then President Abraham Lincoln, that resulted in the Yosemite Grant.  Although chilling, his 1857 story has been corroborated by hundreds of people alike.

Galen Clark was involved with Yosemite when it was turned over to California after the legislation was signed to be managed as a park.  He was the park’s first guardian and held the role of park ranger for over twenty four years.  It is well documented that during an 1857 exploring trip, he heard a distinct sound coming from a nearby lake.  Pausing to locate the source, he describes hearing a wailing cry.  After listening for a moment, he determined that the local Native American tribe must have left a small puppy behind.  He continued about his trip, almost forgetting about the incident.

Later, he happened across the tribe, participating in a small gathering.  As he got to talking, he was reminded about the puppy and mentioned it to the group that night.  After sharing glances among themselves, they let Galen Clark know that the sounds he heard were no puppy.  He settled in as they told him about the source of the noises.

Native American legend has it, as Galen Clark learned first hand that night, that years before Clark’s adventure, a young boy wandered away from the tribe and went to the lake.  Unfortunately, he got carried away in the current and he drowned before anyone noticed he was gone.  They told Galen Clark that when the boy’s spirit senses an on comer approaching, he cries out to them for help, taunting them to come to the water’s edge, in efforts to attempt to locate the source and help the boy.  As they peer into the depths of the lake, the boy grabs their legs and pulls them into the depths to meet their own watery graves.

(images:craiggoodwin2/flickr) Vernal Falls at Yosemite

(images:craiggoodwin2/flickr)
Vernal Falls at Yosemite

Local tribes warned people not to heed the cries.  Just as they warned Galen Clark, it was at a traveler’s own peril to even get close to the lake.  Hikers continue to report hearing the boy’s cries.  Unfortunately, the water dangers don’t end at the lake.  The Miwok Indians tell even more stories about the Yosemite Waterfalls that are haunted by the evil spirit Po-ho-no.

Similar to the young boy with the puppy-like cries, the evil spirit entices people to the edge of the waterfalls to behold the beautiful water stream.  Just as they least expect it, they are pushed over the edge into the falls by an unseen force.  In 2011, three hikers plunged to their deaths from the top of the Vernal Falls at Yosemite.  The dark forces continues to stalk men and woman, innocently marveling at the water’s beauty.

Megan Borchert
Megan Borchert
Lover of all things unusual, Megan is a staff attorney for the state of South Dakota. When she's not stuffed in an office writing case synopses, you can find her at home with her army of Schnauzers, snuggled up with some strong wine and a good book.

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