Northern California Road Trip (Day Three)

This morning I set off to hike to Cathedral Peak’s Upper Lake. This is the most popular hike in the Tuolumne Meadows area. I can see why.

Quick facts:

  • Rated as moderate
  • 7 miles round trip
  • Has food storage boxes and bathrooms at trailhead
  • Limited parking alongside road
  • Upper Lake has the iconic view

My experience:

The beginning (maybe half mile or so) is the hardest part of the trail. It quickly and steadily climbs uphill at a rate that get’s your heart pumping. Once you get past this though, there’s a nice level portion that allows you to catch your breath and stretch your legs. The uphill does continue throughout the hike, but each time that I felt like I had enough of climbing, it leveled out again.

It’s a beautiful trail. Yesterday’s rain made it a bit muddy in some stretches but it also added to all the beautiful creeks that pass through. As I was hiking, I had this thought: God designed all of this, and He said it was good (His stamp of approval), which means that He delights in it. I was staring up in awe at the mountains and trees and realized that God does too. That may sound so simple to state, but I think it’s profound. God delights in what I delight in!

To get to the Upper Lake you have to take the fork to the left. The sign to the right says Cathedral Lake, but that goes to the lower one. The sign to the left says Sunrise H.S.C- take this one! Confusing I know, but follow the left trail and Upper Lake will be on your right in about 0.5 miles.

I actually almost missed the Upper Lake, because the way the trail takes you puts you in between the lake and the peak, whereas the iconic view (these pictures included) go peak, lake, and then you. So pro tip- walk through the marsh on the right (warning lots of mosquitos) and walk around the lake’s edge until you find the right view.

I spent an hour here taking in the view and eating lunch and then took the same trail back to my car. Then I drove two hours to Reno, where I got my first ever speeding ticket (lesson: even though you’re on a highway you have to slow way down when going through a small town). I’m still upset about this, but hey stuff like this is bound to happen on a road trip.

Where I’m camping tonight:

I’m staying in the lot of a 24 Hour Fitness. It’s not as sketchy as it sounds I promise! This was actually a road-trip tip I read online: get a gym membership to shower and have a parking lot to camp in when campgrounds aren’t available. I have a membership here and seeing as it’s open 24 hours I feel safe knowing that I can run in and get help if needed.

Have you been to Cathedral Peak Lake before? Do you prefer the upper or lower lake? Let me know in the comments below!

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