The Cathedral Lakes Wish…
This is a major wish list hike. I’ve been intrigued with it since I first saw the peaks from Lembert Dome. I’ve seen some photos of it, most of which were taken during the “sweet” light of dawn or dusk. That means I’ll need to plan a backpack. Well, if I had trouble navigating downhill on the Panorama hike, why would I think I could carry overnight gear and my camera equipment on a trail that starts at an elevation of 8600 feet and then ascends over a thousand feet, most of which is in the first couple miles of this 9 mile out-and-back hike? Because I’m this svelte kid that can leap off 3-meter diving boards in a single bound (at least I still do in my dreams…it’s been since 1985 that I’ve actually done that and that was first time since 1978. But, I digress).
Yosemite is bear country. According to one account, “…bears consider these lakes their own local supermarket…. Don’t even consider spending the night … without a bear canister….”[i] Well, my brother is a strong believer that spending the night anywhere without cable as roughing it. A tent cabin is about as far has he’ll go. My cousin is no better. The wimps. And I have the good sense to not do the hike alone (surprise of surprises). So, I pine. But I must admit, I am beginning to feel more brazen.
This is classified as a “moderate” hike (see the graph for a rough idea of the elevation change to the lakes). Well, maybe. Just to see what it might be like, some years ago, my wife and I started on the hike – absolutely no intension of actually going to the lakes, but just to, maybe, get to the first ridge and see what we could see. I got, maybe, 500 feet beyond where she threw in the towel before I quit, huffing and puffing like I was being smothered by a plastic bag over my head. We could still read the sign at Tioga Road designating the trailhead. So much for truth in advertising.
There are two lakes. Lower Cathedral Lake and Upper Cathedral Lake are about a mile apart. I’m not sure which one is the more picturesque. But, then again, does it matter? If you hit both lakes, you are looking at four and a half miles. I’ve considered that maybe I could make it as a day hike, wait for the sweet light of dusk and then hike back. I mean, it’s all downhill (well mostly). How hard could it be after resting all day long? Well, I am not sure if being eaten by a bear is fair punishment for being wrong. So I continue to pine.
Then again, maybe I could do a day hike and return before dark, just to “scout” out the area and get a feel for what it might be as a backpack. Hmmmm. I could do that alone.
[i] Hiking Yosemite National Park by Suzanne Swedo, Falcon Publishers, 1st Edition 2000, Page 133