Day 2 – Cathedral Lakes

7/22 – Little Yosemite Valley to Cathedral Lakes
12.5 miles

We only hiked 12.5 today but by golly that was hard!  We started the day at 6,140 feet in Little Yosemite Valley and went over Cathedral Pass at 9,700.  That’s over 3,600 feet of gain today.  Honestly, it really sucked in some parts. I’m still getting used to the elevation.  Kevin made us press through our designated lunch time stopping point to try and get over the pass as we were scared of thunderstorms. There have been storms in the afternoon the past two days and the clouds sure looked like they would break and dump on us.  We got a bit of drizzling through out the day, but no thunder strikes.  We probably made it over the pass at 4pm.

After climbing out of Little Yosemite Valley and splitting off from the trail to Half Dome, we gained 1,000 feet in the first mile and a half.  We got up on top of a plateau and were able to see down on to Bunnell Cascade and the path we took last October to Merced Lake high sierra camp.  We were much, much higher up than that trail.  Helps to put things in perspective.

The food so far has been pretty good.  Oatmeal and coffee for breakfast.  Salami, tortillas, and cheese for lunch.  2 Clif bars a day and potato bark beef and vegetable stew for dinner.  The dehydrated meals were worth the weeks of snackmastering prep work and extra money.  I don’t think we saved any by not purchasing Mountain House meals, but at least we can control what goes in our meals and they taste home cooked.

So far we have met 5 other JMT hikers.  Steve and Emma from MA, they stayed in Sunrise Camp.  Karl from Belgium and two younger girls that camped with us at Cathedral Lake.

Cathedral lake and peak are simply amazing.  It takes work to earn the view but my word is it worth it. We set up camp a ways up from the lake with a fantastic view of the peak and ate our dinner as alpine glow lit the place up in shades of pink and orange.

“No wonder the hills and groves were God’s first temples, and the more they are cut down and hewn into cathedrals and churches, the farther off and dimmer seems the Lord himself. The same may be said of stone temples. Yonder, to the eastward of our camp grove, stands one of Nature’s cathedrals, hewn from the living rock, almost conventional in form, about two thousand feet high, nobly adorned with spires and pinnacles, thrilling under floods of sunshine as if alive like a grove- temple, and well named “Cathedral Peak.” – John Muir

I still haven’t seen a pika, but lots of ground squirrels, chipmunks, deer, jays and maybe a frog. Tomorrow will be Tuolumne meadow and Lyell Canyon to set ourselves up to get over Donahue pass!

I think that is Vogelsong in the distance. Maybe even Mt. Florence
Past Sunrise Camp
Past Sunrise Camp
No grazing in the meadow, okay?
No grazing in the meadow, okay?
Long Meadow and Columbia Finger in the distance
Long Meadow and Columbia Finger in the distance
Little pink cheeked after going over Cathedral Pass
Little pink cheeked after going over Cathedral Pass
Headed down from Cathedral pass to the lake
Alpine glow
Alpine glow. And laundry.
Alpine glow on Cathedral Peak
Alpine glow on Cathedral Peak
What’s for dinner?

Day 1 – Happy Isles to Little Yosemite Valley

7/21 – Happy Isles to Little Yosemite Valley
3.8 miles

It seemed like the planning would never end.

Martin and Dorothy drove up to Yosemite with us.  They had never been inside Yosemite.  We use to go to Camp Mather on the edge of the park many times when I was a kid, but they never made it into the valley.

Mom was completely enthralled and excited by the valley.  She had never seen anything like it.  Well, almost.  She compared it to the Old Man in the Mountain in New Hampshire, which is sadly no longer.

We found a place to park on the side of the road (all the parking lots were full) and walked over to the wilderness office to get our permit.  The ranger rattled off a lot of information about bear cans, wag bags, 4 mile no camp zones, etc. After finally getting our official permit, we grabbed a sandwich lunch at Degnan’s Deli just in time for a storm to blow in. Lots of thunder and lightning and a downpour for a couple of hours.  We all took naps in our cabins in Curry Village waiting for the rain to die down.  Then Kevin and I showed Mom and Dad the Mountain Room at the lodge, site of our engagement dinner.  My nerves about the trip were really getting going.  Dad reminded me that all I had to do was get to Tuolumne Meadows, which was two nights.  And then get to Red’s Meadow, which was 4 nights.  And then do another 4 nights to get to Muir Trail Ranch.  Ideally by that point I’ll be acclimated to the elevation and strong. He recounted a story when he had just started out on his cross ocean sailing adventure to Tahiti. On their second night at sea, sailing south from San Francisco to Los Angeles they encounter a strong off shore gale and the wind was driving them in towards shore.  They scrambled to get their foulies out of storage and a different sails up but unfortunately they had packed all the important gear underneath, as he describes, the rubber duckies, beach umbrellas, and inner tubes.  Lesson learned, pack important stuff on top.  He obviously survived :).

Either way I was very nervous this morning.  Everyone in Curry Village was annoying me.  A woman let the water run as she was doing make up and brushing her teeth, completely unaware of the signs that point out we are in a severe drought.  Two teenaged girls fed some squirrels bread, ignoring another sign that stated to not feed the wildlife.  So it felt very good to finally start climbing and get beyond the day hikers.  As we were coming up to Nevada falls we passed a man finishing up his JMT trip going north bound.  He had on dirty girl gaiters that his daughter picked out for him.  We quickly chatted about gear, pack weight, and mosquitoes.  He was very friendly and easy going.  Makes me excited to meet more folks like him on the trail.

We quickly made it up past Vernal and Nevada Fall and into Little Yosemite Valley.  After pumping really brown muddy water from the river we set up camp and decided to take a nap and wait out the thunderstorm that rolled through.

Tomorrow, 12.5 to Cathedral Lakes!

Leaving Camp Curry and headed to Happy Isles
Official start of the trail!
Liberty Cap
Yay first day!
Going up!
Liberty Cap and Nevada Fall
Another shot of Liberty Cap and Nevada Fall
Top of Nevada Fall


Big tree. Baby tree.
Little Yosemite Valley. Camp for the night after a hard down pour.