Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Yosemite Psalm (Part III)

Sunrise at Sunset
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. And that's a good thing, since I don't have the time to write more than a couple hundred of em today. For this segment, the pictures will tell the story.

Day Three: Cathedral Lakes to Sunrise Lakes
This leg of our journey would take us another five miles or so on the John Muir Trail southward to the offshoot trail at Sunrise High Sierra Camp. The Sunrise trail heads due West toward Tanaya Canyon where it joins the trail leading to our Day 5 destination, Cloud’s Rest. At near 10,000 feet, Cloud’s Rest trail would be the high point in elevation for our trip.

Back at our first backcountry campsite, near Lower Cathedral Lake, we made an early start, hitting the trail at around 8:00 AM.

The sun rises over majestic Cathedral Peak as we prepare to hit the trail.

Just before midday, we made the climb to Upper Catherdral Lake and closer proximity to Cathedral Peak, a favorite target for mountaineers and rockclimbers. We were feeling pretty good at this point.

Michelle peers at Cathedral Peak and wonders whether or not Glynda the Good Witch will emerge from that Bubble of Light thingy coming toward her. Sorry Dorothy. Clicking the heels of your hiking boots together won't get you too far out here.

"Grizzly AJ" at Upper Cathedral Lake. Please keep the hot pants cracks to yourself, thank you.

By the end of a tough climb, we reached Sunrise Lakes and camped near the southernmost of the triune lake group, overlooking rugged Tanaya Canyon. This was perhaps the most picturesque spot we saw on this trip, and the following are my two very favorite photos, taken at sunset.

At Sunrise Lakes looking southwest toward Cloud's Rest (center) and Half Dome’s east face in the distance.

Panning to the right, Upper Sunrise Lake and a magnificent High Sierra sunset.

Day Four: Sunrise Lakes to near Cloud’s Rest
The trail to Cloud’s rest along the upper edge of Tanaya Canyon was fairly dry, dusty and steep. This may have been our toughest day. Michelle was a trooper and didn't complain. She is a veteran backpacker and had about twice the experience as I did. She conserved her energy as best she could. Ron and I were fighting it, but were in good enough general shape that we really didn't have any problems. But poor Ellie was having a pretty rough time, so we took some weight off her pack and re-distributed it between Ron and myself. We tried to take it a bit easier for Ellie's sake.

The remaining climb to Cloud’s Rest’s 9,900 foot summit would be too tough to try on this day, so we stopped and camped about a mile or so short of the spur trail to the summit.

Mid-morning heading toward Cloud’s Rest (left) with Half Dome's less-often seen right profile (center) in clear view.

Same vantage point, zoomed out to reveal a beautifully reflective small lake just off the trail below.*

Another wannabe “artsy” shot featuring Michelle. It was at this area of the trail that I recall being my most weary. It was hot and steep, but oh so beautiful.

Exhausted, we stopped mid-afternoon at a spot with a nearby water source and pitched camp to conclude Day Four. Looking across the canyon, I caught another awesome sunset. National Geographic, here I come!...yeah, right!

Day Five: Cloud's Rest to Little Yosemite Valley
Being fairly close to the Cloud's Rest summit spur trail already, we set off and by mid-morning were sampling the incredible Yosemite panorama.

At Cloud’s Rest summit, taking in the view of everyone taking in the view at 9,900 feet. Looking northward from whence we came, Tresidder Peak is well visible in the distance just to Ron's left.*

Another one of my favorite shots. From the southern summit, Michelle, Half Dome and Yosemite Valley below.*

The obligatory “look at me” shot, holding a very bad “straddle ‘L.’” There was also an awesome shot of me holding a handstand in the same location, but it was so over-exposed that I looked like Casper the Friendly Ghost. This one was extremely light as well, but I was able to punch it up in PS to make it viewable (that’s why it's grainy).*

Half-way Thinkin’
With Half Dome so tantalizingly close, it was hard not to push on to climb it as well. However given Ellie's already spent condition, there was no way she was going to attempt that climb. Michelle had “been there, done that” several years earlier, before I'd even met her, so she was happy to sit this one out and stay with Ellie, while Ron and I tackled that most famous of Yosemite’s monuments of granite.

It was decided that we would stay an extra day. We would continue on to an area near the trail's junction with the John Muir, in Little Yosemite Valley and camp there. Bright and early the next morning Ron and I would make it a day hike to Half Dome, and the following morning we would make our descent into Yosemite Valley and head for home.

*Note: some of these photos came out horribly over-exposed (I'll talk about why later) and had to undergo considerable "fiddling" to even be worth posting (unfortunately, many otherwise good shots, couldn't be saved). Thank goodness for Photoshop!

Next: Go Climb a Rock
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