California 29th October, Cathedral Lakes Trail

We stopped at the parking area by the Cathedral Lakes trailhead and read the notices. Bears were apparently very active in the neighbourhood and there was only one other car in the vicinity, this side of Yosemite was really quiet. It was suggested that all food toiletries etc were emptied from cars and placed in the provided bear lockers. As any passing bear would have only a couple of cars to go at we thought it sensible to comply. Bear damage is not covered by any hire insurance and the hire company had told us of returned cars with trails of bear claws down the side and smashed in windows. Having lugged all our gear including the chiller into the locker we made some sandwiches and set off on the 5 hour journey.
The first part was pretty boring as we laboured upwards through the conifers but we soon reached the base of the north side of Cathedral Peak, unrecognisable from this angle and saw a glimpse of smoke and smell of burning from the distant forest fires. We could see evidence of previous burns on some of the trees we passed.

Climbing out of the forest we came onto a broad plain overlooked by the peak and cloaked in golden grass. Lower Cathedral Lake was in a granite bowl with large rocks and isolated trees scattered around the edge.We saw 2 people in the distance, but apart from them we were on our own. My passing nod to bird photography is, a picture of (I think) a pinyon jay.

Having circumnavigated the lake we started to climb again to Upper Cathedral Lake at 9585 ft. This was smaller and prettier and ice still clung to the ground at the water's edge. As the day wore on streaks of clouds began to form over the tops of the peaks, breaking up the blue of the sky. No one passed us on this stretch of the trail and the peace and isolation affected us both.

Eventually we had to walk down to rejoin the car. The back of  Cathedral Peak had now acquired a pretty fringe of white cloud. We were sad as this was the last we would see of Yosemite. We drove out of the Park gates, passing Tioga Lake and descended to Lee Vining and our campsite, waiting for the evening lights to be turned on.


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