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Re: Trip Report - Matthes Lake Oct 8-10

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avatar Trip Report - Matthes Lake Oct 8-10
October 15, 2016 12:57PM
I was up in the backcountry last weekend with 3 friends on a trip that had been in the making for a while. After years of hearing me rave about my trips to Yosemite, a couple of first time backpackers were convinced that they should give it a try, and we picked last weekend to do the trip. While two of the party were new to backpacking, I knew that they were in shape, and also adventurous, so I decided to take them on a one night backpacking trip to one of my favorite places in the park…Matthes Lake.

We actually left on Saturday at about noon, and since one of the guys had never been to Yosemite, I figured that we had to go to the Valley. With a wilderness permit reservation, we could stay in the Valley backpacker’s camp. We were going in separate cars, and I was in the later car, so I asked the advanced group to get a space in the backpacker’s camp and we would plan to meet at the Ahwahnee Bar at 5.

I had not really anticipated the crowds, figuring that things would have died down a bit by mid-October. But it was a nice weekend, and Columbus Day to boot. We went to Tunnel View and took the obligatory pictures, but my friend’s comment was that it was a bit Disneylandish with the big tour buses pulling up and disgorging passengers for their 10 minutes of selfie fame.

We then went to the Ahwahnee bar, where we met our friends who had successfully set up camp…unfortunately at somebody else's reserved site in North Pines…so we had a cold one at the bar and then walked over to properly stake our spot in the backpacker’s campground, and went off in search of dinner. Our first dinner attempt was at Curry but there were probably at least 50 people in line at the Pizza Deck and the cafeteria looked less than appetizing, so we decided to go catch the climbers, in the dark, on El Cap. This is always one of my favorites…sitting in El Cap Meadows during prime climbing season in the dark, watching upwards of 25 sets of headlamps scattered all over the face, and as you look up the headlamp lights just sort of blend in with the stars in the sky…very cool.

By this time we were able to drive back to the Village and snag a table at the Mountain Room…a slight upgrade from the Pizza Deck at Curry, had a good meal, and returned to the quiet backpacker’s campground, where we were met at our tents by the campground volunteer…apparently we had not properly and individually tagged each of our tents. Kudos to the volunteer…and I suspect all of her efforts relate to properly tracking the use of the camp. She indicated that there were 63 spaces, each allowing 4 people, but that oftentimes they are well over capacity. The camp was quiet, we slept well, and were up at dawn to get the real adventure started.

We drove to the Cathedral Lakes TH, stashed the spare food in a bear box, and had an easy hike to Upper Cathedral, where we lunched. We continued on trail past Cathedral Pass to just NE of Columbia Finger, where we struck off cross coutry along the ridge west of Echo Lake. About at the end of that ridge we struck east, downhill to the valley below Echo Lake, and then around the nose of Matthes Crest up to Matthes Lake. Here we are going around the nose of Matthes Crest

There were a couple of guys at Matthes and, not wanting to bother them and after checking with them about where they were camped, we set up a spot up on the rocks on the east side of the lake, with a nice view of Matthes Lake and Crest

There were nice views of the last light on the Cockscomb

And Matthes Crest

Was lovely.

We had a nice dinner…starting with apples and cheese appetizer that one of the guys had brought. Strangely, the cheese was nowhere to be found in either of the bear cans…more on that later….

After a good night’s sleep in relatively warm (above freezing) temps, we woke up to a cloudy morning

After breakfast we walked north through the meadow upstream of Matthes Lake

Nice views back to Matthes Lake and the Clark Range in the background

And then north up the steepening slopes to the north end of Matthes Crest itself…one of my favorite views in the park. Sadly, no picture of the 360 view! (A reason to go back...like I need one)

The Matthes Crest itself, as seen from the north end of the Crest, was spectacular, as usual.

My plan had been to work over towards the Echo Peaks and then down to Budd Lake, which I had done many years ago with my wife and kids, but the guys thought that my proposed route looked a bit sketchy, and, after checking the topo maps, I figured that we could make it over to the saddle west of the Cockscomb and then back down to the car. It was easy getting over to the saddle where there was a nice view of Budd Lake and Cathedral Peak

We found a climber’s use trail or two that we could have taken down, but they looked just a bit sketchy for our group of first time backpackers and we finally opted for a nice, wide slot to work down

To the small set of tarns west of Unicorn Peak, where we rested and had lunch

After lunch, we continued to work down towards the car…sometimes with nice views of Tuolumne Meadows below

In hindsight I should have worked over to the Budd Lake trail immediately from the tarns…instead we worked down more along the stream outlet from the tarns…which was ugly in many spots, but we survived and were pretty happy to get to the Budd Trail.

Back to the missing cheese….we were half concerned that it might have been left in on of the cars and wondered as we approached the trailhead what we would see. Our first stop was the bear box…and there was no cheese in our stash there. Then on to the cars with an increasing level of concern…and we found the cars unharmed…whew. After some searching the cheese was found…it had apparently slipped under the driver’s seat of the other car…so we definitely got lucky on that one!

All in all a great trip despite some level of anxiety on our downclimb, and I think that the two new guys would definitely hit the backcountry again, although one of the guys suggested ropes and ice axes next time!

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/16/2016 09:16PM by Bearproof.
avatar Re: Trip Report - Matthes Lake Oct 8-10
October 17, 2016 07:13AM
Awesome. Awesome. Awesome.

But cmon. I thought your favorite part of the park was Payday Hill!

yeah... that's not Payday Hill... but I couldn't resist
(pretty sure you were whining slash muttering slash wondering slash wth did I get myself into... again!)

tongue sticking out smiley

Chick-on is looking at you!

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/17/2016 07:14AM by chick-on.
avatar Re: Trip Report - Matthes Lake Oct 8-10
October 17, 2016 01:29PM
Payday Hill (or lack thereof)

Poof, what did you do? Lend your packs to the noobs?

Did you use your new "JKW Approved" pack?

Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Trip Report - Matthes Lake Oct 8-10
October 17, 2016 02:21PM
Payday Hill (or lack thereof)

Poof, what did you do? Lend your packs to the noobs?

Did you use your new "JKW Approved" pack?

Yep, I opened up my garage (aka Rental Equipment Inc, or REI for short) to the noobs. Had to help them out. New pack went to a buddy, I used my larger pack used on JMT a few years ago.
Figured if the group needed any more gear I could call up blops...I hear he has 30-odd tents...and so much more.

Yes, PayDay Hill is one of my many favorite places in the park. Unforgettable memories. Feed ME!

Actually not too many places in Yosemite that aren't favorites now that I think about it.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 10/17/2016 02:51PM by Bearproof.
Re: Trip Report - Matthes Lake Oct 8-10
October 25, 2016 12:40PM
Great TR. Thanks for posting. I need to get to that area in any season. I've hiked past that area en route to some other destination, never thinking to explore the area more fully, closer to the trailhead. Is the lack of a trail enough to discourage most people, or does the short distance to the TH override that advantage?

Is it correct that this route is no longer possible (without a shuttle) as even parking in lots along Tioga Rd (not alongside the road, but separate paved lots) is not allowed after Oct 15th?
avatar Re: Trip Report - Matthes Lake Oct 8-10
October 25, 2016 02:19PM
Overnight parking along the Tioga (and Glacier Point) roads is not allowed after October 15, day hikes only or shuttle.
Re: Trip Report - Matthes Lake Oct 8-10
October 17, 2016 10:03AM
Nice Report. The pictures at Matthes Lake are excellent. Haven't been there but definitely on my list.
Re: Trip Report - Matthes Lake Oct 8-10
October 17, 2016 10:03PM
Great report. Thanks for posting it. I need to remember to go to Matthes later in the season. Man, I have seen some skeeters there!

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
Re: Trip Report - Matthes Lake Oct 8-10
October 20, 2016 10:19PM
Thanks for the TR. Matthes is my favorite lake in the park as well. And your camping spot looks so familiar smiling smiley, IMHO it is the best at the lake. Almost forgot, fishing brookies is fantastic!
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