04 July 2012

Yosemite: Cathedral Lakes

Yosemite National Park

This is a multi-day trip. If you haven't read it, you might want to start at the beginning.

Locate the trailhead.

DAY 1 | DAY 2 | DAY 3 | DAY 4 | DAY 5 | DAY 6

The new morning dawned far too soon, then I realized it was the moon and not the sun. It was just a little past full and easily rivaled the predawn light. I had put the rain fly up to try to prevent that, but at least it cut the brightness a little. I managed to get back to sleep.

The morning dawned and brightened the sky over the level achieved by the remaining moon. I didn't have much to do for this day, just meet some people and find a better campsite. They were mostly coming up on the bus from the valley in the morning, then one would pick up a permit and all would start hiking in. I expected they would get to the junction above sometime a little after noon and maybe as late as 2 PM. I had lots of time, so didn't get up very early. It turned out that my not very early was quite similar to my neighbors' get up times. I saw a few tents among the trees far on the other side of the trail.

a little morning light and my tent
The morning light making its way down the mountains while my tent is still well shadowed.

I sat down to breakfast to find that everything had gotten a bit wet with dew overnight. Truthfully, I'd seen a good start to it even before I went to bed. I'd forgotten the vent on my tent, so it was a bit soggy on both sides of the fly. I wiped the water off the bear barrel with a bandanna which started to frost over in the morning chill although I wasn't even feeling like getting out the gloves. I pumped some water from the local creek and set to lighting the stove, but it wasn't having it. The matches themselves seemed reluctant to light their wood sticks. I had two danishes from the day before that had been stuck inside as extra sugary snacks for whenever. I ate these instead of the instant oatmeal and had my apple cider cold. It wasn't a bad breakfast.

mist on the small pools
Mists rose from many of the pools along the creek in the still shadowed morning. The water flowing across the flat rocks was quite delightful as well.

shadow vanishes as the sun finally appears
The sun finally comes up, almost directly over the peak itself.

Once the sun hit camp, I got everything dried pretty quickly. I packed it all up and made my way down to the lake below again. This time, I noticed a second bit of trail heading off to the left toward some rocks that did not go right through the pool of water. I took this trail and another from the rocks to more rocks by the side of the lake. It was squishy and somewhat muddy and crossed a small flow, but easily got me where I was going. The meadow was dotted with ponds and it all eventually flowed into a lake that stretched out large before me. More campers were down here by the lake, still just thinking of getting their tents down. I enjoyed the lake for a while and got the watercolors out for my first sketch while the groups by the lake trickled out and on their way.

trail to rock by a pond
A second, well used route over the meadow avoids the stream through it by heading out to a rock and then crossing.

bird wading through the shallows of a pool
A little of the local wildlife looking for food at the edge of one of the pools in the meadow.

first view of the lake
Climbing up the rock at the far end of the meadow reveals the deep blue waters of Lower Cathedral Lake. At least that's the color from this angle in the morning light.

backpackers crossing the meadow below Cathedral Peak
One group of backpackers heads out across the meadow to rejoin the main trail and continue on their way.

backpackers in the moring
One tent about to be taken down on a rocky peninsula while someone else pumps water while standing in the lake.

a small delta at the inlet for the lake
Looking down at the lake inlet, the underwater delta is somewhat visible.

After a while, I decided to head up to the trail to be sure of meeting the rest of the group. We ought to have determined a meeting spot, but it didn't quite get done. I headed back up to the main trail planning to go down to where there was a nice bit of view above. The post-its placed the evening before had been removed from the trail signs, probably by Tim. I didn't actually get that far because the trail started to climb and I got lazy. I settled down with my book for a while along the trail and hoped I could recognize people I'd only met in the dying light before.

the stream running through the meadow
As the stream runs through the meadow, it seems to reveal that there's only a short bit of soil before a far less plant friendly bed of rocks.

the stream entering the meadow
The stream pools a bit as it first enters the meadow off the surrounding rocks.

a nice spot along the higher meadow where a large boulder sits on the flat rocks covered in a sheet of water
There is a little more meadow above, as well.

Three mule trains of 5 mules each passed headed for the high sierra camp. They sure seem to need a lot of supplies delivered daily. The day hikers started arriving later than I'd expected, and then there were a few backpackers. Toward the end of my expectation window, my group popped up, or most of them since one had already passed. That one was consistently way out in front. It turned out that they were going down to the lower lake for that night as would be expected. We claimed choice sites by the lake and set about enjoying the afternoon, including fishing and wandering around the edge of the lake.

Lower Cathedral Lake
The dome near Lower Cathedral Lakes outlet as I start on a counter-clockwise circuit of the lake.

Lower Cathedral Lake from the outlet looking to Cathedral Peak
Looking back over Lower Cathedral Lake from its outlet to Cathedral Peak.

water flowing down more rock as it escapes Lower Cathedral Lake
Water flows out the lake down a long slope of rock. In the distance, I can see the road and Tenaya Lake.

purple flowers of heather
The heather was blooming, just a little bit.

grey bird
A grey bird, one of a pair, takes an interest in the funny animal below it.

Ruth fishing from the shore
A little fishing on the far side of the lake, but there weren't any fish to be had on this day.

Cathedral Peak
Another look at Cathedral Peak from the lake.

We stretched and wandered and talked and eventually had a bit of dinner and turned in for the night. There weren't any fish, so dinner had to be ordinary. It got quite cold that evening before we snuggled down in our bags. It didn't seem so wet by the trees as it was a little higher the night before.

Continue reading: day 3.

©2012 Valerie Norton
Posted 13 Jul 2012

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