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Mt Watkins to Sunrise to Cathedral Lakes Trip Report

Hiking, backpacking, running, biking, climbing, rafting, and other human-powered activities in Yosemite National Park

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Mt Watkins to Sunrise to Cathedral Lakes Trip Report

Postby tinyisgreat » Thu Jul 27, 2017 8:11 pm

After a few weeks of agonizing like everyone else, my friends and I went ahead and did it. The rangers we spoke with were sure snow wouldn't be a problem. We backpacked July 22-25.

Day #1: Started at May Lake to Snow Creek trailhead, and trekked off trail to camp on top of Mt Watkins. Water sources good along the way but obviously none on the peak. Weather was great, and the only slightly hazy looking out towards Yosemite Valley. The smoke from the Detwiler fire, I'm assuming it was there because I really didn't see it, didn't hinder our breathing at all. No mosquitoes except by water that first day. No snow.

Day #2: Trekked down Mt. Watkins and then to Olmsted Point, to Tenaya Lake, past Sunrise trailhead and up to the Clouds Rest Junction. Air quality still great, no snow until we were most the way up the 1000ft elevation gain on the switchbacks. Even then, just patches here and there. We camped on a granite slope overlooking Tenaya Canyon a quarter mile past the junction. Lightning flashes that night and a little sprinkling rain. Had to move our sleeping spots in the middle of the night for fear of lightning strikes. Ended up hammocking under trees. Water sources plentiful, mosquitoes, too. Had to break out the mosquito netting for my head.

Day #3: Day hiked and summited Cloud's Rest without packs. Heavier clouds appeared as we were descending. Air quality still great that morning. No snow near Clouds Rest. Mosquitoes still around. We picked up our packs near the junction and backpacked over Sunrise Mountains to Sunrise HSC (it's closed and deserted). Just as you hit Long Meadow, the mosquitoes swarmed. More damned mosquitoes than I've ever seen in my entire life. I double layered with my clothes, wore my head net, sprayed myself down with deet and the bastards still got a good 30 bites in. I'm still itching as I type this. We had to keep moving north until we were just about out of the meadow. We wanted to go further to get away from the bugs but we were too exhausted. So we just dealt with it. No bad weather but we realized the meadow region is very wet. We woke up with condensation in our tents.

Day #4: Backpacked over Cathedral Pass, to Lower Cathedral Lake and then to Cathedral trailhead. Smoke def not an issue this far north, mosquitoes still bad but not as bad as Long Meadow. Still saw patches of snow but never lost the trail. Actually did lose the trail for ten minutes when descending on the side trail to Lower Cathedral Lake. There's a lot of debris. We found it again ten minutes later by following the water.

We had a wonderful trip! Thank you everyone for your advice the past couple weeks! So stunningly beautiful out there.
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Re: Mt Watkins to Sunrise to Cathedral Lakes Trip Report

Postby Phil » Thu Jul 27, 2017 8:53 pm

It's weird, but I've been through all the HSCs early season when they're still closed and abandoned, and Sunrise is the only one that ever gave me the heebie jeebies. I have no idea why, but I got this ominous feeling like it was haunted or something.

Yeah, when the mosquitoes are out in force, "Long Meadow" takes on a whole new meaning. You just move a lot faster and wish you were at 7500 ft.
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Re: Mt Watkins to Sunrise to Cathedral Lakes Trip Report

Postby balzaccom » Fri Jul 28, 2017 11:41 am

Thanks for posting your trip report. Good to know that things are opening up in Yosemite, We're headed there later this year....and hoping to avoid both the bugs and some of the snow that you encountered!
Check out our website and blog at: http://sites.google.com/site/backpackthesierra/home
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