Monday, August 22, 2011

Cathedral halls

Our second trip to Yosemite would would take us to the higher elevations as we worked our way to the still waters of the Upper Cathedral Lake in Tuolumne Meadows.

The high would start at a trailhead just under 9,000 feet high working near the tree line on the ridges heading to two lakes.  Pine trees would line our path along the rocks and sandy trail as we climbed in the thinner air on the trail.

The views heading along Tioga Road through Tuolumne Meadows are stunning.  Granite domes and cliffs-some still dotted with snow rise around the roadway amid the pine trees.After a quick stop at Tenaya Lake and an overlook to Half Dome we arrived at the trailhead.  Even our parking spot by the side of the road was beautiful as we stopped near a small stream pulsing along next to the road.

You know you are are stepping into the woods when a sign at the trailhead warns of the potential dangers as you enter the Yosemite wilderness.  We headed out and began our steady climb which would take us up another 1,400 feet or so to the upper lake.

The trail took us next to stands of pine trees and weathers trunks that had survived a fire years ago.  Further down the trail we neared the base of Cathedral Peak and found a layer of ice and snow still clinging to the rock even in the mid August sun.  We climbed a little ways on the slippery surface before heading back to the trail toward the upper lake.

There were many beautiful sights along the way.  Small streams fed from the melting snow coursed down the mountain.  A small underground spring pushed gravel and dirt up in a mesmerizing show at one stream along the trail.  Off in the distance the vistas of small domes and the mountain ranges loomed through the trees.

As we neared the junction for the lakes the spiny top of Cathedral Peak loomed next to us.  The summit sits at just under 11,000 feet as the granite spires jut out against the sky.  The distance from the trailheads to the upper lake is only about 4 miles but the thin air ket us working hard in our hike.

Finally the lake emerged next to trail and we stopped for a lunch on the sunny rocks at the waters edge.  The water rippled from the breeze blowing across the water.  The far side of the lake we could see snow near the water's edge as shade on the rock face kept a trail of snow intact.
Heading down the altitude and effort of our climb finally hit me as I fought the headache and nausea of a small case of altitude sickness.  The climb down was slow but we finally made it back to road to cap our 7-hour 8-mile round trip hike.
Yosemite will be a place we return to throughout the year as we are planning some winter hikes as the weather changes.  The vistas and scenery can't be compared with and the awe-inspiring sights are sure to give us many photo hikes in the months to come.

No comments: