Trip Report - Ice Age Tour
I took a quick two-night solo cross country backpack in the Cathedral
I had often looked at the map and wondered about a way to navigate
the long north-south ridges. So I went to find out and had an
Total mileage was about 12 miles and total elevation gain/loss was
Lots of up and down, and a bit of class 3 scrambling. I used only
a topo map,
no GPS, no compass. Really fun navigation challenge.
I don't want to give the precise route so it can remain a challenge for
interested in discovering it for themselves. But in
general, I started in
Tuolumne Meadows Campground and went up the Elizabeth Lake trail,
then followed the fishermen's trail south. At "the notch" I
left the use trail
and took a shortcut directly south to Nelson Lake. I spent the
first night there.
On the second day I went pretty much due west across four ridges and
spent the next night at popular Sunrise Lake (the middle one). On
morning I went down the Mildred Lake drainage to Tenaya Lake and exited
It worked well to leave my car at the Sunrise trailhead (and food in
the bear boxes), then take the Tuolumne Shuttle back to the store to
begin hiking. I started about noon on the first day and
came out about 10:00 on day three. The pace was leisurely and
comfortable and I spent lots of time just absorbing the gorgeous
The terrain is simply fantastic, most of it just at treeline.
Wonderful vistas from
the top of each ridge. Up close look at the relics from the ice
ages that managed to
survive the glaciation: Cockscomb, Columbia Finger, Matthes
While not a serious challenge by mountaineering standards this is
definitely not for the average backpacker. Moderately strenuous
off-trail travel is required, up to class 3, and advanced cross country
navigation skills are needed.
If you've never been off-trail in the Cathedral Range, get out there
soon, it's some of the most outstanding terrain in the Sierra.
©Copyright 2012 John