This was a short, but really outstanding trip. I got my gear and food together last minute after figuring out I could get away for a few days. Upon entering the park it donned on me that I forgot to pack a) my spoon, b) sun block, and c) my pants. This was going to be roughing it for sure :)
The plan David proposed was to take the climber's trail to Budd lake where I would meet up with him, Marc, and Rick. From there we'd head cross-country to Matthes Lake and figure the rest out at that point.
The climber's trail was easier found than I had expected. After not too long the trail turned to granite and I lost and found it several times, then, finally lost it for good but the creek drainage and other landmarks made the way obvious enough.
Along Budd Creek
Unicorn Peak in the distance
Hiking solo, even short distance is always exhilarating. I saw a lot of wild life including a sasquatch and two chupacabras all of which accosted me in attempt to raid my food stash, but I fought them off with my triple purpose potty trowel. The ergonomics of my camera are very poor so I was unable to photograph them, sadly. Later on I managed to find the trail again, just before reaching the lake.
As I came over the horizon there was Budd lake and David, Marc, and Rick waving me in as if they knew I was going to be there at that moment. Maybe they heard me belting out some Dio on the approach.
Budd Lake: elev 10,000 ft
Anyway, it took me about 1 1/2 hours to cover the ~ 2.5 miles which ascended from 8,500 to 10,000 ft. Not having done much hiking at significant elevation this year I wasn't exactly feeling strong but hoping I would acclimate quickly. After a break we discussed the route to Matthes and headed out.
Marc and David taking the lead
Rick making his way up
Panoramic view looking back (Northwest) toward Tuolumne Meadows
We crossed a bench at ~10,400 ft. from which we scoped a good lay of the land. After assessing it we headed down toward Echo Lake.
Marc taking in the view
Passing Echo Lake. Captain Wrong Way shows us where to go
On our way we decided to hug the profile of the ridgeline instead of finding the drainage and following it to the lake. It saved some time and soon enough we arrived at Matthes Lake. The mileage for the day was just right around 6. We figured we'd head past Nelson lake to Reymann lake tomorrow.
Matthes Lake: elev 9,623 ft
David wets a line at dusk
The sunset over Matthes lake that evening was unreal. One of the most intense I've ever seen; everything was painted pink. Unfortunately I was a bit tired and not in the right state of mind to capture it well. There were probably half a dozen better vantage points from a photographic perspective, but I was so in awe of it that I sorta spaced out.
Sunset, Matthes Lake
That night was a cold one. We estimated mid-twenties. I downed some ibuprofen for my headache and konked out. Felt much better in the morning despite everything being frigid outside.
My Echo tarp
I carried a new Gorilla pack (on loan from GG, review at Hike It. Like It. forthcoming)
Once the sun warmed us up we got moving and headed towards Nelson Lake. Just over the first ridgeline the views were expansive again. We initially planned to follow the contours to the lake drainage, but somehow decided to head over a saddle and save some time. It didn’t work out quite as slick this time. After some rock scrambling and PUDS we made it to the lake - which was absolutely beautiful. We ate lunch. I soaked my feets. The water was pleasant.
Rick: "Just climb up this mossy, gnarly granite face and hope your gum soles work!"
Nelson Lake elev 9,636 ft
Crossing the meadow, ready to climb up towards Reymann Lake
A view looking back at Nelson
Marc and Rick taking some pics
After yet another short steep climb we come upon Reymann Lake, more great views and dramatic landscape. Although the hike has only been ~ 4 miles, we'll camp here tonight. We hadn't really come up with a plan to go further Southeast while staying away from the trails, although with my elevation woes well behind me I felt like I could have gone a full day, no problem. Taking a nap won out I guess.
Reymann Lake elev 10,065 ft
Marc sets up his MLD Duomid, both he and Rick decided to just bivy that night
David set's up his MLD tarp
Some clouds over the lake
Sunset once again turned out to be amazing. The clouds were incredible!!
Late in the day, looking West
Sunset looking East over Reymann Lake
Sunset looking West from Reymann Lake
The night was cool and clear, and completely calm. We pounded whiskey hard then passed out. Not really. I brought half a liter which we shared after dinner. Enjoyed the stars for a while then called it a night.
The trip was a blast. I was feeling strong and ready to work after just a day; I wish I had found the time to be up there more this year and put in some miles. David, Marc, and Rick made for great hiking partners and lively conversation. I’m looking forward to hiking with you guys again soon!