As I mentioned in my last post, Sam and I hiked in to Cathedral Lake this morning from Tuolumne Meadow. Apart from the steady climb at the very beginning I found this to be a very manageable hike. The 9,000+ feet of altitude took its toll on me early though, forcing my lungs, heart, and legs to work overtime. After the initial climb and thoughts of how they were going to carry my dead body out of the forest, we settled into a good rhythm and I actually felt fine most of the rest of the way. We crossed freshwater streams, saw large areas of mid-July snowpack, and admired what were often spectacular mountain views.
After about 90 minutes or so of hiking, we reached the clearing that signaled we were about to see the lake, but we still had one more hurdle to clear… a mosquito infested marsh that stood between us and what we knew would be a beautiful sight. I have never seen mosquitos as vicious and bloodthirsty as those that we encountered going across the 200 yard-wide marsh. I swear they were getting drunk on the insect repellant we had doused ourselves in, and when mixed with a little blood, they were absolutely loving their early afternoon cocktails. The breeze along the granite shore of the lake brought us a little respite from their appetites, but they were still active even there. Here’s Sam on the trail…
Lunch was spent enjoying the views and briefly exploring the area, but it was soon time to head back. Once again the mosquitos swarmed around us as we crossed the marshy area leading back to the trail. Without exaggerating, Sam must have been bitten fifty times on his shoulders alone, and we actually resorted to running to try to get away from them. We both laughed about it afterwards, but the image of him frantically trying to escape from the swarms of skeeters will stay with me for a long time 🙂
Storms were brewing on the way back home, so we quickened the pace as best we could without sending me into cardiac arrest. We made it back to Tuolumne Meadow and the car just before the thunder, lightning and rains came. First stop when we got off the mountain was to purchase some after-bite stuff that is supposed to stop you from itching… hopefully it works better than the bug repellent!
With the weather looking pretty bleak for the rest of the evening, we headed back down through the Tioga Pass to Lee Vining to get some dinner and decide what to do next. After a pizza at the Whoa Nellie Deli – yes, we ate there again – it looked like there might be a chance of the skies clearing and offering some good, stormy light, so we decided to stick close to home for the evening and visit the picturesque and surreal landscape of Mono Lake.
* apparently we completely missed that we should probably have visited Upper Cathedral Lake while on this hike… bummer.