Nelson Lake-Cathedral Lake (yosemite) loop TR | High Sierra Topix  

Nelson Lake-Cathedral Lake (yosemite) loop TR

If you've been searching for the best source of information and stimulating discussion related to Spring/Summer/Fall backpacking, hiking and camping in the Sierra Nevada...look no further!
User avatar

Nelson Lake-Cathedral Lake (yosemite) loop TR

Postby adam » Mon Oct 12, 2009 1:30 pm

tuolumne meadows-Nelson-Matthes-Cathedral-Budd lake loop trip report- photos at
http://picasaweb.google.com/arsmith2/Ne ... edralLoop#

Two of my main motivations for this trip—see the Sunrise area and the lakes below Johnson Peak—didn’t happen, but it still worked out beautifully.

Plan A was to have an easy hike in to Cathedral, but the permit quota was full (surprise!) so we went in via Nelson Lake. According to the wilderness ranger who seemed pretty convinced that we were going to camp illegally at Elizabeth lake, we weren’t allowed to camp until up and over the pass from Elizabeth (as an aside—it would be nice to somehow have a license that shows that you know what you’re doing—or at least the know right answers to lie about—to avoid the tedious wilderness permit lectures every time one wants to go camping). Given our extremely late start (leaving the car at 4pm) we were at the pass just before sunset, and thus just legal with no real desire to continue by headlight. Fortunately, there was enough snow left in the shady spots for water, so we enjoyed the big views camped a few dozen feet on the right side of the law.

Plan B was to traverse to Reymann lake, then descend, but we wussed out and did the shorter traverse to descend to Nelson Lake. This was extremely easy—from the Elizabeth lake pass there’s a bench that runs directly to the pass above Nelson Lake. It looked a little more arduous to continue to Reymann. The descent to Nelson was steep, but easy walking—in the future, I’d prefer this route to the traditional use trail for getting to Nelson.

The meadows around Nelson were a dry, pleasant walk, and we picked up the use trail there to descend to the S fork Echo creek valley, from which we contemplated the steep-looking break in the cliffs to get to Matthes Lakes. It was steep, but not as bad as it looked—we were able to walk up the whole way, then descend to Matthes Lake below the awesome Matthes Crest, which I’m always surprised isn’t more popular, given how spectacular it is.

From here, it was easy forest walking down from the lake to the valley of Echo Lake (N fork echo creek), which started as a maze through light forest and boulders but soon opened up into a huge meadow below the cirque of Echo Peaks and the west side of the Matthes Crest, which is just as impressive as the east. I imagine that, like Nelson and Matthes lakes, the Echo Lake area is a mosquito-infested swamp in the spring, but it was about the easiest cross-country walking imaginable this time of year up to Cathedral “Pass”, which is really just a big meadow, and the absurdly well-built John Muir Trail down to upper Cathedral Lake.

I’d only been there once before, and remember the JMT back to tuolumne meadows being boring as all get out, so on the third day we went up and over the divide between Cathedral and Budd Lakes to enjoy lunch at Budd Lake. The traverse from the divide to Budd Lake is full of little mini-canyons, so it was much easier to just descend to the Budd Lake use trail (picking up a well-ducked spur path for most of the way) and then walk ~5 minutes back uphill to the lake. Budd lake was lovely as always, and even with little water in the creek, the trail down, which is small and almost always along the creek, was so much nicer than the stone, dust, and horse crap highway through the forest that is the JMT. All and all, a wonderful fall weekend, apparently just in time before the first dump of the season.



User avatar
adam
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 80
Joined: Thu Sep 11, 2008 5:17 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Nelson Lake-Cathedral Lake (yosemite) loop TR

Postby maverick » Mon Oct 12, 2009 2:07 pm

Hi Adam

Nice pic's and great TR.
The views back towards Tuolumne Meadows and Mt. Conness areas are outstanding
from the ridge above Budd Lake.
I did not visit the Nelson area this time around but have a good shot of the vicinity back
from a trip in May 08 from the ridge you can see Nelson in the bottom right hand corner
of the picture still frozen.
http://maverick.zenfolio.com/img/v5/p472722439-5.jpg
User avatar
maverick
Forums Moderator
Forums Moderator
 
Posts: 8050
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:54 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Nelson Lake-Cathedral Lake (yosemite) loop TR

Postby mokelumnekid » Mon Oct 12, 2009 7:33 pm

Nice TR and fantastic pics and AWESOME (!) pic by Maverick, I have done the central part of Matthes Crest to the north summit (we once tried to climb the southernmost buttress, from a campsite by Matthes Lake/Pond but got chased off by a t-storm) and what a great perspective. Long day-hikes through this area from Tuolumne were a regular part of my diet in the late '90's when I spent about 3 weeks a year in TM doing geological work. God I miss it!
User avatar
mokelumnekid
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 446
Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2008 4:45 pm
Location: Seattle
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Nelson Lake-Cathedral Lake (yosemite) loop TR

Postby adam » Tue Oct 13, 2009 10:11 am

I guess the grass is always greener on the other side-- I see from your profile that you're in Seattle, which I miss all the time, despite still loving the bay area the Sierra. Still, though, it's nothing like North Cascades!
User avatar
adam
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 80
Joined: Thu Sep 11, 2008 5:17 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Nelson Lake-Cathedral Lake (yosemite) loop TR

Postby BSquared » Thu Oct 29, 2009 6:45 am

Wow, beautiful! The Cathedral/Echoes area was where I did my first backpacking several centuries ago :p , and I always love the first part of the JMT because it goes through just this country; maybe I should get back there to spend some extended time.


BTW, when I click on Maverick's link all I get is a message that says, "Content Protected by Owner." I'd love to see the picture... :(
—B²
User avatar
BSquared
Founding Member
 
Posts: 871
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2005 3:31 pm
Location: Jericho, VT
Experience: Level 3 Backpacker

User avatar

Re: Nelson Lake-Cathedral Lake (yosemite) loop TR

Postby John Dittli » Thu Oct 29, 2009 7:17 am

Great place. Here's a shot from there this fall.

download/file.php?id=304&mode=view

John
Walk the Sky: Following the John Muir Trail
User avatar
John Dittli
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 470
Joined: Thu Sep 03, 2009 10:38 am
Location: Crooked Creek
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Nelson Lake-Cathedral Lake (yosemite) loop TR

Postby maverick » Thu Oct 29, 2009 9:03 am

Hi BSquared

I went ahead and unlocked the pic for you so you can get a chance to check it out.
User avatar
maverick
Forums Moderator
Forums Moderator
 
Posts: 8050
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:54 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer


Return to Backpacking / Hiking / Camping



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot], Yahoo [Bot] and 7 guests