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Yosemite's Cathedral Range October 4-7, 2012
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David W.
(Davidpcvsamoa) - MLife

Locale: East Bay, CA
Yosemite's Cathedral Range October 4-7, 2012 on 10/08/2012 23:05:53 MDT Print View

Dates: October 4-7, 2012
Location: Yosemite NP
Trailhead: Cathedral Lakes
Temperature: Low 20s to low 60s

October 4 - After putting in a full day at the office, Mark and his brother Rick arrived at my home to begin an autumn adventure in Yosemite National Park. We had dinner at a restaurant in Oakdale where the poor waitress was clueless about Rick’s request for a glass of Zinfandel. She brought out white zin and then two other white wines before getting it right. Rick got two glasses on the house and slept well that night. We continued up CA 120 and pulled off to sleep. Our plan was to camp in the National Forest outside the park on Thursday evening and make our way to the permit station early in the morning.

October 5 - We got up around 6:30 and enjoyed the scenic drive to Tuolumne Meadows. Our timing was ideal as we arrived at the permit station just as it was opening. The air was brisk and I could feel fall coming on with a chill in my bones. After passed the inquisition by the Ranger we were handed our permit and drove to the Cathedral Lakes trailhead to enjoy some breakfast and begin our hike. The plan was to hike to Budd Lake where we would meet up with Jacob who was driving up the same morning. The trail to Budd Lake was easy to spot off of the main trail. The climb was gentle but enough to remind my lungs that I was at 9k feet. We quickly approached the east side of Cathedral Peak and enjoyed a group of four climbers tackling the eastern face. Shortly after we reached Budd Lake, enjoyed some lunch and waited for Jacob to arrive. Jacob arrived right on cue and we continued by climbing around Echo Peak towards Echo Lake and Matthes Lake. The group discussed staying high and traveling east to Matthes Lake or dropping down to Echo Lake and taking the more conservative route to reach Matthes Lake. Since we only had a few hours of daylight left, we agreed to take the conservative route. This decision also afforded us the opportunity to check out Echo Lake up close. We passed Echo Lake and climbed into the slot to the east that contained Matthes Lake. We found a nice spot to toss out bivies and tarps for the night. After setting up, Rick and I did some fishing in the lake while Jacob photographed an amazing sunset on Matthes Crest. There is something special about the sunsets in fall that seem to make them that much more colorful and radiant. Rick hooked one fish with a traditional fly rod while I struck out with my Tenkara (and limited skill). After a quick dinner and chat we retired to the warmth our quilts and bags. Although it dropped into the low 20s, we all stayed warm in our various setups.

October 6 - Jacob and I woke up with the sunrise sometime around 6:30. Marc and Rick are early risers and had already packed up. As we cooked breakfast, we had a hard time keeping the water in our bottles and reservoirs from freezing solid. The thought of tea or coffee was about the only thing that kept me from crawling back into my quilt and waiting for the sun to warm my bones. Once the sun rose over the peaks, it warmed quickly and we were able to de-ice our joints and get in motion. We hadn’t decided what our plan for the rest of the trip would entail. After tossing out various ideas, the group agreed to travel to Nelson Lake and on to Reymann Lake where we would spend the night. The trip to Nelson Lake gave us all an opportunity to practice our route-finding. After a few rock scrambles and taking directions from “Captin Wrong-way” (Rick) we made it to Nelson Lake. The group enjoyed a leisurely lunch and headed northeast towards Reymann Lake. Although it was only a little after noon, we decided to stop at Reymann Lake for the day. On a solo trip I might have pressed on to cover more miles and see more of the area but I was appreciative of the opportunity to slow down and enjoy an amazing spot with excellent company. The afternoon was spent fishing, talking, cleaning up, snacking, setting up for the nights sleep and napping. Marc, Jacob and I ate dinner while Rick fished the lake hard. His efforts were rewards with a small brookie after more than an hour of fishing. The sunset on the lake and surrounding peaks was one of the most stunning I can remember.

October 7 - We got up the next morning and hiked east towards the Rafferty Creek trail. We quickly reached the trail and found the walk back to Tuolumne Meadows a bit anticlimactic after two days of cross-country travel. My mind could shut off and my feet only had to follow the warn down trail and piles of horse manure back to the trailhead. We reached the car and cruised down the hill to meet at Priest Grade Road for post hike meal and beer.

Mission accomplished. We were all pleased to beat the first winter storm and get in a memorable late season trip in Yosemite. It is a great time to visit the park since the crowds have disappeared and the park facilities have mostly shut down. Marc, Jacob and Rick were all great company and pleasure to hike with. This was my first trip through the east side of the Cathedral Range and I would recommend it as a good introductory cross-country trip. I look forward to Marc and Jacob's photos...

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Yosemite's Cathedral Range October 4-7, 2012 on 10/08/2012 23:23:38 MDT Print View

That's a great area, isn't it?

I was just in there with a friend two weeks ago, except that we started from the Elizabeth Lake Trailhead, went to Reymann, Nelson, Matthes, and Echo Lakes, but with an added side trip to Fletcher Lake.

Yes, it is getting to that time of season when there isn't much water flowing in the streams, but what water you do get will freeze before dawn. It is also an excellent place for beginner land navigators to practice their map reading and compass bearings.


Marc Eldridge
(meld) - MLife

Locale: The here and now.
Re: Yosemite's Cathedral Range October 4-7, 2012 on 10/09/2012 00:22:45 MDT Print View

Here's some pics









Paul Wagner
(balzaccom) - F

Locale: Wine Country
Nelson and Reymann on 10/09/2012 09:33:28 MDT Print View

IN 2011 these two lakes had the worse mosquitoes I have ever seen in 60 years in the Sierra. Absolutely astonishing.

Glad that you were able to enjoy them without entertaining so much wildlife.

Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Cathedral Range on 10/09/2012 11:08:21 MDT Print View

Nice trip guys!

How did you get from Matthes to Nelson? Did you go over that saddle due E of Matthes? Or did you go through the grassy ramps to the south down to Echo Creek?

Jacob D
(JacobD) - F

Locale: North Bay
Re: Re: Cathedral Range on 10/09/2012 12:24:23 MDT Print View

Andrew, we went over the saddle. The creek drainage would have been a little longer, but looking at it, more gradual uphill hike with less map referencing.

Jacob D
(JacobD) - F

Locale: North Bay
Yosemite's Cathedral Range October 4-7, 2012 on 10/09/2012 12:45:42 MDT Print View

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
2012-10_3107  web.jpg

Unicorn Peak in the distance
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Cathedral Peak
2012-10_3123  web.jpg

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.

Trail Rediscovered
2012-10_3124  web.jpg

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
2012-10_3134  pano  web.jpg

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
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Dramatic Granite
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Rick making his way up
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Panoramic view looking back (Northwest) toward Tuolumne Meadows
2012-10_3150  pano  web.jpg

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
2012-10_3153  web.jpg

Passing Echo Lake. Captain Wrong Way shows us where to go
2012-10_3168  web.jpg

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
Approaching Matthes Lake

David wets a line at dusk
2012-10_3186  comp  web.jpg

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
2012-10_3205  pano  web.jpg

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
2012-10_3231  web.jpg

I carried a new Gorilla pack (on loan from GG, review at Hike It. Like It. forthcoming)
2012-10_3236  web.jpg

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!"
2012-10_3246  web.jpg

Us: Ok!
2012-10_3248  web.jpg

Nelson Lake elev 9,636 ft
2012-10_3258  pano  web.jpg

Crossing the meadow, ready to climb up towards Reymann Lake
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A view looking back at Nelson
2012-10_3262  web.jpg

Marc and Rick taking some pics
2012-10_3266  web.jpg

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
2012-10_3267  web.jpg

Marc sets up his MLD Duomid, both he and Rick decided to just bivy that night
2012-10_3293  web.jpg

David set's up his MLD tarp
2012-10_3303  web.jpg

Some clouds over the lake
2012-10_3309  web.jpg

Sunset once again turned out to be amazing. The clouds were incredible!!

Late in the day, looking West
2012-10_3315  pano  web.jpg

Sunset looking East over Reymann Lake
2012-10_3316  web.jpg

Sunset looking West from Reymann Lake
2012-10_3321  web.jpg

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!

Edited by JacobD on 10/13/2012 14:55:27 MDT.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Yosemite's Cathedral Range October 4-7, 2012 on 10/09/2012 13:01:00 MDT Print View

"Rick: "Just climb up this mossy, gnarly granite face and hope your gum soles work!" "

When I went through the same place two weeks ago, I was headed in the opposite direction, so I was trying to edge across the sloping face of that stuff. Once I got a feel for it, there were enough chickenheads in the granite texture, so it worked.


Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
re: Cathedral Range on 10/09/2012 13:15:13 MDT Print View

Great report, guys.
@Jacob- You took so many amazing photos on that trip it's hard to pick favorites, though the sunset is one standout. In general, I really liked the textures you were able to achieve on the rock faces, and of course the skyscapes. I've been trying to educate myself on photography lately and in the process came across your blog and some of your posts on NEX lens impressions. Would you mind commenting on which lenses you used in these photos and what worked for you.

Jacob D
(JacobD) - F

Locale: North Bay
Re: Cathedral Range on 10/09/2012 14:11:49 MDT Print View

@Bob - yeah coming down that stuff is less fun. We did some of that too. All in all it was wasn't too big a deal, but I think all of us were being careful not to take a fall.

@Ike - Thanks man. The landscape and skies up there are inspiring to be sure. I used a NEX 5N + CV15, CV35/2.5, CV40, CV90 (all manual focus) adapted with an M to E mount adapter (Leica to NEX). I can fit 3 of the lenses plus a couple filters, spare battery, and remote into the hipbelt pockets of most backpacks, with the camera and one lens on my carry strap. That info is no doubt buried deep somewhere in the pages of the thread you mentioned.

On this trip I mostly used the 15mm. I share my images on another site or two, and they're meant to be viewed at 1024 or 1600 pixels wide; they get a little crunchy at this size. A few of these are multiple image shots (stitched together with software) that are over 40 megapixels in size. I shoot RAW and process everything in Lightroom. If you need more info I'm happy to share; feel free to drop me a PM, email, or comment form on the bloggy blog.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Re: Cathedral Range on 10/09/2012 15:33:30 MDT Print View

Fantastic report guys! Fall in the Sierra Nevada is my fave! Jealous!

Chris S
(csteutterman) - F

Locale: Tahoe
Re: Yosemite's Cathedral Range October 4-7, 2012 on 10/09/2012 15:49:03 MDT Print View

Nice report and pictures! Looks like a great October trip.

Jacob, I've also got a couple photo questions for you. I'll send you a PM.

Katy Anderson
(KatyAnderson) - F
Fantastic pictures on 10/09/2012 21:53:02 MDT Print View

and nice trip report.

Backpack Jack
(jumpbackjack) - F

Locale: Armpit of California
Re: Yosemite's Cathedral Range October 4-7, 2012 on 10/12/2012 23:28:34 MDT Print View

Spectacular trip guys, wish I could have made this one.