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Re: Nelson/Matthes Lake trip advice

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Nelson/Matthes Lake trip advice
June 07, 2015 01:39PM
Planning a return trip to Nelson Lake area in a month with a group of friends. Last time I went to Nelson and Reymann lake, out through Rafferty creek, as a trial cross country backpacking route.

This time, I am considering a different loop trip going to Matthes/Echo lake and out Cathedral lakes (area looks gorgeous from the pictures I have seen here). Main question for the trip is whether the saddle between the Echo Creek to Matthes is within our "comfort zone" in terms of exposure. Any preferred routes and details on this cross country route?
Re: Nelson/Matthes Lake trip advice
June 07, 2015 03:23PM
The route from Echo Creek to Matthes is a cake walk...if you around the south end of the ridge. The saddle also looked quite possible when we were there...but we went around the end of the ridge.

Check our our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
Or just read a good mystery novel set in the Sierra; https://www.amazon.com/Danger-Falling-Rocks-Paul-Wagner/dp/0984884963
avatar Re: Nelson/Matthes Lake trip advice
June 08, 2015 09:49AM
Like Balzac says...if you just follow the creeklet draining Matthes southwest around it is easy. Through the saddle is fine as well, although as I recall it might get a bit tallus-y on the west side as you descend to Echo. You might also consider going upstream from Matthes Lake and around the north side of Matthes Crest. Its very cool up there and the terrain is really easy. You can poke around Echo Peaks and then either go down to Echo Lake or more directly to Upper Cathedral Lakes.

Here is a shot of Matthes Crest and Lake, viewed from the south looking north. Your saddle is on the left, with the Echo Peaks behind it in the distance and the Cockscomb up behind Matthes Lake:

avatar Re: Nelson/Matthes Lake trip advice
June 09, 2015 06:50AM
Balz n Poof... the original posta is talking about Echo Creek... not Cathedral Fork Echo Creek...
It's the saddle that separates Echo Creek proper from Matthes Lake... the saddle that you
would go thru if you took the Nelson Lake "xcountry" route.

Echo Creek:

Cathedral Fork:

The saddle from Nelson:

The route from Echo Lake around Matthes Crest is the easiest way to get to Matthes Lake.
If you want to get there from Nelson then the saddle is the easiest.
There are a zillion routes you can take really. All are doable and a lot of fun.
For the saddle on the topo you can see the gully... just go up the trees til you hit granite
then veer south-ish heading to more trees and keep in little gullies for safety til
you get up on the ridge... from there just work your way down... it's mostly trees...
imo it's all class 2 ... but ymmv

looking north... see trees just on right...

looking down:

Please ask more if you like. I think if I showed a map of routes you'd know I m nuts.
Have fun!

Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Nelson/Matthes Lake trip advice
June 09, 2015 02:20PM
We talked about that route here, and you posted a Picasa link with a map.

My pictures from 2011, here.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/09/2015 02:20PM by ttilley.
Re: Nelson/Matthes Lake trip advice
June 15, 2015 09:17PM
Thanks for all the information and pictures. Will let you know how the trip goes, can't wait to get out there.
Re: Nelson/Matthes Lake trip advice
July 07, 2015 07:09PM
Got back from our trip over to the Matthes/Echo Lake area for the long weekend. It was great to get away from the crowds of Tuolumne (large crowds for the holiday weekend) and go up familiar territory past Elizabeth Lake. Once off the trail and up to the saddle, we would only see 6 other people over the weekend.

Echo creek and Cockscomb are a treat after going over the pass. After that we went into new territory trying to pass over the saddle east of Matthes. We ended up gaining elevation a bit quickly, and rerouting back down to get to easier areas to climb. Probably needed to go even further south prior to going up, but managed to cross the ridge either way. Definitely felt exposed in one section where scrambling was necessary to make it past rocky obstacles. Good help from friends got me past this roadblock, as scrambling is still difficult with a recent wrist injury.

Matthes crest was a sight! And the lake was full of hungry, and remarkably large fish (for the high sierra lakes). Perhaps the bountiful mosquitos in the area (moderate to heavy at dusk/dawn) kept the fish well fed.

Second day was an easy walk around to the west, and up to spend the day at Echo Lake, where the wind kept kept mosquitoes to a minimum. Day explorations up the ridge, lake swimming, and general relaxing made July 4th a true holiday. Instead of fireworks, we watched as the sun set and highlighted Matthes crest, the clouds turned into pink/purple fireworks, and the Milky Way become clear during the night.

Third day was an easy walk to meet up with the JMT and out via Cathedral lakes. The JMT felt like a freeway after the relative seclusion of the previous days. Cathedral Peak and Lake from Cathedral pass was a gorgeous site, and glad to have finally checked out the area. A bit crowded for my taste for camping, though.

Overall, a great trip, with great weather and great friends. Nice to get back out there! Thanks for all advice!
avatar Re: Nelson/Matthes Lake trip advice
July 07, 2015 07:45PM
Did you camp on the hill at the south end of Matthes on Friday? If so...I was the person on the rocks camped on the east side of Matthes.
Re: Nelson/Matthes Lake trip advice
July 09, 2015 11:50AM
Yes, that was us on Friday. Saw you with the green tarp camped on the east side of Matthes. smiling smiley
Re: Nelson/Matthes Lake trip advice
July 09, 2015 12:08PM
Regarding mosquitos on your trip, would you say they would be bearable without the wind at echo?

Sorry for the off topic question but do you happen to know what the walk-in quota is for Nelson Lake? I usually always am able to reserve it but it seems all the permits for this saturday have been taken!
Re: Nelson/Matthes Lake trip advice
July 09, 2015 01:06PM
Mosquitoes should be bearable without wind, if conditions are the same as last week.

Nelson lake walk-in is something like 4? Not certain though.
Re: Nelson/Matthes Lake trip advice
July 09, 2015 02:55PM
Eeek reports recent closure of Tioga Pass due to snow--possibly this area got cold enough to freeze those little suckers?
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