Planning & Preparation Is Key…
Well, so far, so good. It’s Day 3 already on the John Muir Trail and we’ve not been eaten by bears! Jokes aside, we’re doing just fine. All the training we have done this summer in England hiking the Pennine Way and Coast to Coast trails in preparation for the JMT is really paying off.
Our fitness levels are good. We’re maintaining a steady pace, and in spite of the addition of a bear canister, we’re managing the extra weight in our packs. Dare I say it, we’ve not even used a single plaster or Ibuprofen tablet yet. Let’s hope it stays that way!
Admiring the view of Lower Cathedral Lake.
Day 3 – Upper Cathedral Lake to Lower Cathedral Lake (1 mile) – Sunday 31st August 2014 – ‘Reflections, Reflections’
What better way to spend a Sunday morning than waking up in the great outdoors! (Well we think so anyway!) We’re pleased to report that there was no bear activity at our camp spot during the night, so we slept soundly. (Maybe knowing that there were also other hikers camped at various spots around the lake subconsciously put our minds at ease). Anyhow, we were well rested for the day ahead, which was actually more of a ‘zero hiking day’ as we literally moved all of our gear just 1 mile down the trail from Upper Cathedral Lake to Lower Cathedral Lake.
A great place to enjoy a ‘zero’ hiking day!
Taking a walk around Lower Cathedral Lake.
Having gained a day in hand because of our permit restrictions on Day 1, and wanting to take it slow so we could acclimatise, we thought we’d make the most of the beautiful scenery and enjoy a day lazing around a lake. We also had some chores to contend with such as laundry and washing my hair!
Probably the most scenic spot I’ve ever washed my hair!
Arriving at Lower Cathedral Lake around 11am, we decided to take a walk around the entire lake. It didn’t take that long, but from the northern end we could see Tenaya Lake and the Tioga Pass Road way off in the distance.
A tiny glimpse of Tenaya Lake in the distance.
Continuing our stroll around the lake, we were able to reccy any good camping spots for later!
Once again Cathedral Peak dominates the skyline.
We also got some good reflection shots of the lake at various positions as we wandered around the shoreline.
Calm, still waters on Lower Cathedral Lake.
Perfect for some reflection shots.
As we arrived before midday, there weren’t many ‘day hikers’ yet.
About halfway round we saw a group of day hikers fishing for trout, whom we chatted with for a while, then we used the rest of our walk to reccy out any good spots by the lake for swimming and sunbathing. Cue – a great afternoon of relaxation! No one said you can’t enjoy yourself on the JMT!
Colder than the ‘Ice Bucket Challenge!’
Later we spotted a deer with two fawns hiding in the shadows and foraging around the trees at the southern end of the lake where we decided to camp.
An unexpected guest near our campsite. Our deer tally begins!
Again we picked a spot on gravel on top of a rocky outcrop as it causes minimal impact to ground vegetation. We didn’t see the presence of any ‘trail bandits’ where we pitched, so we took that to be a good sign that they hadn’t been fed around here and didn’t associate humans with food.
Our second camp spot overlooking Cathedral Peak.
Wondering where all the clouds have gone!
Once again our camp spot provided us with a great view of Cathedral Peak. The mountain really dominates the skyline whether you are at Upper or Lower Cathedral Lake and it became our main focus during both Days 2 and 3. Unfortunately Wayne couldn’t repeat a time lapse sequence as the sky was cloudless – and you really need clouds to show some kind of movement or change in light and shadow.
Reflections at sunset.
But he did get a great reflection shot during sunset. He also ventured out of the tent in the middle of the night again to try his hand at some more ‘star photography’. The dark skies around Upper and Lower Cathedral Lake are perfect for it!
Cathedral Peak amongst the stars.
The Milky Way on camera.
Dinner tonight was a hearty bowl of cheesy mashed potato and chicken, straight out of packets and heated through with some chicken stock. Not quite on par with our previous two dinners, but it would suffice.
Preparing dinner. (Ooh we do miss having a chair!)
Packet chicken and instant mashed potato with a chicken broth.
Tomorrow we are heading to Tuolumne Meadows to collect our first food re-supply package. We’ve still got lots of food left in our bear canisters, but I suppose you can never have too much. Having more than what you need is definitely better than being constantly hungry. So far, the addition of a ‘Clif Bar’ per day as a mid-morning snack (an American oatmeal type of energy bar) is keeping hunger pangs at bay. Whereas on the Pennine Way and Coast to Coast hikes we felt constantly hungry and continually dreamed about food, as yet, we’ve barely even thought about it. I suppose it’s because we’ve been so preoccupied with the views and caught up in the moment, that for once food has taken a back seat instead of dominating our thoughts. But there’s still time. We’ve only reached the end of Day 3 after all!
There’s no picking up some farm eggs or nipping into a butchers for some pork pie on this trail! (But even on the JMT we can get ‘burgers’ at a couple of our re-supply stops). As creative as we try to be with our own hiker meals, I’m sure we’ll be ready for a huge chunk of beef and some deep fried goodness by then. Watch this space!