Guest Blogger: Michael Vorhis, author of ARCHANGEL suspense thriller, OPEN DISTANCE adventure thriller & more to come

In Part I we described the higher flow rates of springtime in Yosemite Valley. Here we present and discuss the Merced River in particular.

The Merced River in the Valley

In my photos you can judge depth and flow rate visually by noting water running through and behind trees, and by seeing the boilings of the current. The water at these flow rates allowed me minimal entry; trees were in the way everywhere and, where they’re not, so many banks drop off steeply into serious depth. The river is still in the carving business. I think I’d want the gauge to read below 2000 to even consider wading these stretches again.

NOTE FROM J STOCKARD: You can read part of this post here. And, over the next week or so, we’ll publish parts III and IV.


  1. Drowning risk everywhere in California – wait until the fall to wade – even standing on the bank is dangerous. A 30 year old fly fisherman drowned near Bishop in May.

    1. I’m with ya, Arthur. Been waiting for my closest stream to come down to ~400 cfs. I’ve waited since January so far! It was at 5000 for months and months, and now it has finally ratcheted down to about 1500. Still nearly 4x my comfort zone, and June is already gone. What a blow-out of a spring season…I cursed the drought for three years running and now I’m just about wishing for it back. : )

      – Mike

  2. Really liked your photos and article!
    My cousin is Peter Birren and he recommended that I follow you! That wooden bridge in your photos I have been on with my daily walks, riding my bike, delivering flowers to the Yosemite Chapel for weddings.
    I had a destination fresh flower shoppe in the ❤️ Of the Valley and I also worked at The Ansley Adams Gallery! 100’s of crossings and I love this bridge! Our special sand beach is right below this bridge! And I had the honor of living in a historical cottage to the right of Yosemite Falls for 14 years! Not a shabby place to live! My husband was a required occupant and first responder for NPS Buildings and Grounds for 24 years! Keep up the great work! Simply, Ginny

    1. Hi Ginny, you may be the first one who ever followed my facebook link to the J.Stockard Site! First one who said so anyway (I post links all the time). You’ll find many dozens of great outdoor enthusiasts here, all focused ostensibly on fly fishing but all in the larger sense just plain thrilled with the Great Outdoors.

      The bridge you mention is a great bridge (the beach is great too)…it’s hard to find a moment when there’s no one on that span (even at dawn)…and I didn’t find such a moment. In my original photo my 12-year-old daughter is leaning over the edge, with her bicycle there too, along with numerous other gawkers and photogs. I photo-shopped them all out, and it’s hard to tell (I hope).

      Myself I’m quite partial to another Yosemite Valley bridge–the “Swinging Bridge” (which as you know hasn’t swung for many decades and is as solid and eternal as a bridge can be). The reason is that the field in which we’re allowed to land our hang gliders is Lydig Field, right by the Swinging Bridge, and many was the time I carried a packed-up wing across that bridge on my shoulder, doing my best to avoid nailing a tourist in the side of the head. I even proposed to my wife in Lydig Field, bending a knee on a spot that I knew as well as I know any spot on earth–I told her at the time that “I chose this spot because I know it so well–I even know what the dirt tastes like here.”


      “Because this is the spot I always aim for when landing my glider.”

      I think I’ve heard of, and seen, your long-ago flower shoppe! We might even have gotten some of our wedding flowers from you. 2001? I also know of a really nice lady who had a full service fly shop in Yosemite Valley for years…but her fly shop now is outside the park in Mariposa. She’s quite the expert in the area, and has excellent guides working with her.

      I love Yosemite with every fiber of my being. Check out Installments III and IV of this article too.

      So glad to meet you Ginny. Since you’re clearly such a romantic, now you’re going to have to pick up a few nice fly-tying feathers and whip up some beautiful little creations, then go out and meet yourself a cute little trout with them. : )

      – Mike

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