JMT: Little Yosemite Valley to Upper Cathedral Lake

JMT: Little Yosemite Valley to Upper Cathedral Lake

Day 2 – 13.4 miles, 4270 ft ascent. 

The first night was warm, and I woke up as the sun was rising. I had a short day ahead of me, so I was in no hurry. I ate breakfast and packed up camp, and was on the trail after 7.

I started up the same trail as I had when I went up to Half Dome the day before but then turned East where the Half Dome trail split off.

I walked through an old burn area. The tree trunks were blackened from the flames, but the forest floor was carpeted by bright-green plants. The trail was overgrown at places with prickly bushes.

Old burn area.
Old burn area.

As I emerged from the burn, I continued on the Sunrise Trail North. The trail followed a ridge with magnificent views to the East.

Sunrise trail.
Sunrise trail.

After passing through a denser section of forest, the trail started climbing sharply. Once I got to the top, I took advantage of my CCF pad and had a short break laying down on it and listening to music.

Views of the mountains.
Views of the mountains.

As the trail descended, it crossed beautiful meadows with wide-open views of the surrounding peaks. Unfortunately, I wasn’t the only one enjoying the views. The mosquitoes were out in force. I spoke with a hiker going the other way, and he suggested I’d skip Cathedral Lakes because of the mosquitoes. Instead, I should camp at the meadow before the lakes.

Trail through meadow.
Trail through meadow.
Echo Peaks.
Echo Peaks.

I arrived at Upper Cathedral Lake at 2 pm. There was only one other tent set up when I got there, so I could choose my tent site freely. I wanted a spot with a slight breeze away from the lake, hoping to avoid the mosquitoes. They weren’t too bad as I was setting up.

The DoubleTree at Upper Cathedral Lake.
The DoubleTree at Upper Cathedral Lake.

After setting up the tent, I took a swim and explored around the lake. It was remarkable how similar the plants and nature was to the Finnish archipelago. I did feel like I had too much time at camp and I started to run out of things to do. I had initially planned to do my hike with a friend, but he got injured before the hike. Hiking solo, I decided that it would be more fun to do longer days on the trail and have less time at camp.

I watched the sunset at the lake but retreated to my tent as the mosquitoes came out when the wind died down. I stayed up until it got dark so I could look at the night sky. Seeing the Milky Way with my bare eyes is one of my favorite things to do when up in the Sierra.

Cathedral Peak illuminated by the sunset.
Cathedral Peak illuminated by the sunset.

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