Cloud’s Rest Junction to Upper Cathedral lake
7,190 ft – 9,425 (+ 2,235 ft) – 11.3 miles *Cathedral Pass
Free Maps Online – Day 2 – Maps 17 and 16
Last evening was a bit challenging for me because I was rather cold. I went to sleep wearing my long johns, Adventure Pants, socks, long sleeve Under Armor base-layer, clean hiking shirt, rain jacket, gloves, and balaclava – inside my sleeping bag, inside my tent with the rain fly on. And I was still cold. Not “OH MY GOD! We are all going to DIE!” cold, but still cold.
I woke early and tramped about camp trying to warm up while waiting on the sun.
Once the sun hit me, I felt better. Today it felt like the hike REALLY began. The difference between waking up in the woods to hike and waking up in a hotel room an hour and half away from the woods with a few hours of “town chores” left to do is immense.
The views changed dramatically just a quarter-mile or so out of our camp. Today we got our first real glimpse of the High Sierras and a little taste of ridge trail hiking. We conquered our first pass as well. It does not compare to the passes in the later part of the journey – in part because it is one of two passes on the JMT that do not really seem like passes, and that have no distinguishing marks to identify them as such – neither sign, marker, nor even a vista.
The mosquitoes began to make their presence known a mile or so prior to ascending Cathedral Pass, and they stayed with us for most of the day. Once you descend from Cathedral Pass, you see your first of the High Sierra meadows. I had read many guide books and trail journals, but they don’t really prepare you for the sight. Lush grasses, little streams, flowers and skeeters, in the middle of tall, snow-covered peaks!
This land is rather delicate and the trail becomes a trench, often more than 2 feet below the level of the meadow and filled with delicious shoe-stealing mud.
Slogging through the meadows in the mud with my many new bitey winged friends, I decided not to stop and check out the High Sierra Camp, but pushed on towards Cathedral Lakes.
We found a nice place to camp at Upper Cathedral lake, dried our boots and socks on rocks in the sun and ate while soaking in the view and reflecting on the day – trying to recognize where we were and what we were doing. I have heard stories from many a distance hiker, but it is hard to describe until you experience it – it is simply difficult to transition your brain out of “town mode” and into “woods mode”. I will return to this a few times over the tale and hopefully be able to paint some kind of picture.
Stay Tuned for Day 3