JMT – Day 2 – LYV to Lower Cathedral Lake

August 4, 2014

Everything is damp, including my spirit, and my fingers are freezing. The sky is once again gray. This is not what I imagined waking up to on the first morning of our hike but these are the cards we are dealt by nature and there is little we can do about it. At least the rain that woke us up several times during the night subsided by the time daylight drew us from our sleeping bags. We eat a quick breakfast, pack and do the only thing that can warm us up – move.

Viewpoint along the way to Cathedral Pass

Viewpoint along the way to Cathedral Pass

The first part of the day takes us on a slight uphill under a canopy of evergreen trees. The trail is surprisingly dry, the only remainder of the rain are drops on the leaves of the shrubs along the trail. In the first 30 minutes we pass intersection with Half Dome. From there we continue to enjoy the softer grade until we bump into Sunrise Hill where the trail relentlessly gain elevation on a series of switchbacks. If we weren’t warmed up until then, this would definitely do the trick.

Nearing the top Sunrise Hill

Nearing the top Sunrise Hill

The temperature drops significantly with the gained elevation. On the top on Sunrise Hill walking does no longer generate enough heat to keep us warm so we put on extra layer and another one, and in the end we are walking with down coats on. The chill bites even though the layers and the lunch break we planned at Sunrise Camp is cut to a measly 10 minutes.

Long Meadow

Long Meadow

In order to keep warm we speed up through Long Meadow.  The flat open terrain allows for faster pace and the clouds cover any views that could otherwise distract us. When I start feeling tired, at first I attribute it to the fact I did not have a chance to eat proper lunch. But then comes dizziness and I know this can be a problem.  While in last few hours I concentrated all my effort to keeping my body temperature up I forgot to acknowledge that we hiked in altitude of 9000+ feet and simply pushed too much. No wonder my sea level used to body is ready to go on strike. Cold or not I do the only thing I can think of. I slow down and sporting a snail pace I make my way towards Cathedral Pass with no additional problems.

Lower Cathedral Lake

Lower Cathedral Lake

From there it’s downhill all the way to our campsite. We can tell it rained here recently, the trail is wet and some of the rocks became slippery. Family of four we meet half way to our destination is bundled in ponchos. Luckily for us the rain does not return and we reach Lower Cathedral Lake dry. The temperature is more pleasant here too. It only takes 3 layers to keep us warm.

The clouds occasionally allow for a view but most of the time the peaks around the lake remain hidden behind the thick curtain. The weather is not improving as the evening goes by, on the contrary the wind picks up and with the daylight fading, we crawl into the tent at 7:00 p.m. after a delicious dinner of pasta with pumpkin sauce, and a short exploratory walk around the lake.

Exploring around Lower Cathedral Lake

Exploring around Lower Cathedral Lake

It didn't  take long for me to reach for additional layers.

It didn’t take long for me to reach for additional layers.

View in a puddle

View in a puddle

Miles today: 13.4
Cumulative miles hiked: 17.8    Miles left: 193.20

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