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Trails Worth Taking

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Trails Worth Taking
August 31, 2016 07:24PM
Neither M nor I could leave for the mountains until Saturday morning, but we wasted no time heading up, grabbing our permit, and getting to the trailhead. Soon we were away from the bustle of Tuolumne Meadows as we circled Cathedral Peak, from which we could hear climbers working their way to the summit.



We passed Upper Cathedral Lake and continued to Cathedral Pass, where we got our first views of Matthes Crest.



We stopped for lunch where the trail reaches its true high point near Columbia Finger.



Just past this spot we heard from the Advance Party and confirmed our general destination for the night. From there we continued down to Long Meadow and onward to Sunrise High Sierra Camp. The store was open, but the selection of treats to get for the Advance Party was limited.



After filling up with water and chatting with some JMT hikers, we headed down the JMT to the Forsyth Trail junction. We were taking a round-about route to our destination, but it would allow me to check off some TrailQuest segments. Fortunately M was OK with a route that included several hundred feet of unnecessary elevation loss and (re)gain. Near the junction we entered forest that had been burned by the Meadow Fire a few years ago.



After a break at Sunrise Creek we started the slog up the Forsyth Trail. I remember that in the edition of the Schaffer guide book I had read the author's comment was along the lines of "...the Forsyth trail, not worth taking..." While the trail was steep in places, it wasn't bad, and the views were actually quite good--perhaps due to the recent fire.



We passed four hikers heading down the Forsyth Trail... perhaps it is worth taking. We loaded up on water at a spring that was still flowing quite well near the top of the climb, then continued to our campsite near Clouds Rest. We arrived in plenty of time for the wonderful sunset.



The wind was calm and the nighttime temperatures were quite mild, making for a very restful night.



The Advance Party had hiked over and around Clouds Rest the previous day--while we were climbing the Forsyth Trail. After our usual pancakes-and-bacon breakfast, we all returned to the summit of the peak.



After the obligatory summit photos we continued down the south side to the junction with the "bypass" trail, where we parted with the Advance Party, who would continue down to Happy Isles.



M and I took the "bypass" back around Clouds Rest, then headed out via the well-traveled Clouds Rest/Sunrise trail.



Perhaps it was because it was a free-admission day at the park, but there were a lot of day hikers on the trail enjoying the excellent, clear--and warm--weather.



We reached Tenaya Lake mid-afternoon, where of course we had to stop for an obligatory swim in the warm water.



After that--and an hour wait for our the shuttle bus--we returned to our car and headed home. It had been a (comparatively) short but enjoyable trip, and I could check off a few more TrailQuest segments.
Re: Trails Worth Taking
August 31, 2016 08:34PM
Thanks for that trip report.

Heading out in a couple of weeks and wanted to spend one night "near" clouds rest. Are there any tricks to finding the campsites or are they pretty straight forward/ hard to miss?
I realize we will need to dry camp but since I have never been to Clouds rest I am not sure what to picture and how to find the campsites....
Re: Trails Worth Taking
September 01, 2016 09:41AM
There are several places to camp northeast of the Clouds Rest trail at about the 9400' elevation line, just before the trail starts the final climb up the NE ridge of Clouds Rest itself. This area is fairly broad, open, flat--and popular.

The best bet for reliable water is the small stream that the trail crosses at the low point between the Sunrise Lakes and Forsyth trail junctions, but there was also good water (surprisingly cold) near the top of the Forsyth trail and (I was told) another more stagnant source about 15 minutes' walk from these campsites in the NE direction, near (below?) a small meadow.
Re: Trails Worth Taking
September 01, 2016 11:34AM
Spectacular area...all of them, really. Did you feel the spirit of Stacy Arras?
avatar Re: Trails Worth Taking
September 02, 2016 08:59AM
Sweet report..... awesome photos as usual.
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