While working in the Bay Area, I had the opportunity to go to Yosemite over Labor Day weekend in 2000...  Mike flew down to meet me on Friday afternoon, where after some nightlife, we'd stay at Joe's.   The plan is to hike in the Tuolumne Meadows past Cathedral over to the Matthes Crest, and climb the Crest.  A fun, but kind of strange trip, we ended up staying at Cathedral, and doing class 4 scrambles...

We stayed at a friend of Mike's, Joe's, and hooked up with Alan the next morning on the way up.  It was a strange weekend from the outset!  Joe worked at a television studio, and wouldn't be home until early morning - "just go in and make yourself comfortable", he says.  When we get there, a power failure has caused the house alarm box to beep, with no way to turn it off.   This lasts a few hours, when Joe finally gets there, and eventually the power comes back on, and we settle in for a couple hours sleep.  Up and out by six later that morning, we hook up with Alan, and then head up to the park.  We were taking a chance because we were going to try and get our permits through the lottery, as we didn't have a chance to make reservations.  Fortunately, the weather down low was cold and wet, so there were no-shows, and the permits weren't a problem.  Finally, ready to go, we head up to the trailhead...

Mike said he knew a route that avoided the congested John Muir Trail, and instead would take us directly by Budd Lake, and then across a pass to the Crest.  After a couple hours, with Mike and Joe hiking together, and Alan and myself, we all hook up at the lake, but it's apparent that Joe isn't used to the pace or the altitude.  Budd Lake is at 9,975 feet, almost the same elevation as Camp Muir on Mt. Rainier!  We realize the Crest is out, so instead we find a place to camp near the lake.  Joe and Alan were both queasy all night from the altitude, so they didn't get much sleep.  The next morning, Mike and I were going to try to hike over to the Crest, and at least take in a pitch or two - but after minutes on the trail, we found out that camping at Budd Lake was against the rules!  So, we head back and break camp to try to get back in compliance with our permits.  Now it's about 8 or 9 in the morning, and the only thing left to do was to go over to Cathedral, which is a wonderful rock...that had at least three rope teams in the queue at the base.  Frustrated, Mike and I decided instead to just scramble the buttress, and look around.

Hiking in... - After the trip up from the Bay, getting our permits, and extra bear can, we are finally ready to go.  Mike took this shot of us at the John Muir Trail trailhead.  About 20 minutes up the trail, we stayed left on a spur to more or less directly follow Budd Creek.  The trail was marked fairly well, is scenic, and ends at Budd Lake.  We were hoping to rest at Budd Lake, and then press on around Echo Peaks to Echo Lake, but Joe wasn't quite up to it, and Alan was also feeling a bit queasy.  So we found a spot near Budd Lake and set up camp there.  The plan was for Mike and I to leave the next morning and hike over to the Crest.  But just a minute or so up the trail, we found out that there isn't suppose to be camping at Budd Lake, so we turned around, and broke camp. Joe, Alan and Tom at the John Muir Trail trailhead...
Plan B... - With it getting into mid-morning, Mike and I decide that we didn't have enough time to properly day hike the Crest, and with no place to camp that night, we'd climb Cathedral, and then head out later in the day.  Alan and Joe decided to stay near Budd Lake to trek around there.  Gaining some elevation, Mike snapped this shot of Unicorn Peak above Budd Lake.  The weather was clear and crisp, with the temps in the 40s, and breezy.  As the winds circled around the lake, it looked like torpedoes were running around in a bathtub - pretty cool! Budd Lake and Unicorn Peak...
Scrambling Cathedral... - As Mike and I approached the start of the classic route, we saw there were at least three rope groups in the queue, with three more groups on route, making slow progress.  Impatient, we decide to just screw it, and scramble.  Actually, the scramble was quite enjoyable - this was my first time on Yosemite granite, and I was impressed.  Even in my boots, there was lots of grip, and moves of up to 5.4 were easy.  After about 30 minutes, we made our way onto the backbone of the buttress, where Mike snapped this shot of me with the summit of Cathedral directly behind.  Although we climbed to within 50 feet of it, there were too many people on top, so we stayed off. Tom in front of Cathedral Peak...
Upper Cathedral Lake... - Once on the buttress, we had sweeping views of the surrounding terrain.  Here, Mike snapped a shot of the upper Cathedral Lake which is on the John Muir Trail. Upper Cathedral Lake...
Eichorn's Pinnacle... - To the west of the Cathedral summit, is this pinnacle, which seemingly just hangs out over the valley.  Rated at 5.4 to 5.6, it's still very exposed.  The problem with this day, is that the wind on this side of the mountain is around a constant 20 mph with higher gusts.  So we decide to pass it by, figuring if it was doable on that day, locals would already be on it.  Instead, Mike grabs this shot of me as I tuck in out of the wind, and watch the activity on the true summit... Tom relaxing at Eichorn's Pinnacle...
Hoping to see the Crest... - Looking to the south from Eichorn's Pinnacle, we catch a glimpse of the Matthes Crest in between Unicorn Peak on the left, and Echo Peaks on the right.  Maybe some other time... Budd Lake, Unicorn and Echo Peaks...
The north buttress... - With most of the local activity focused on summitting Cathedral, we found the north buttress relatively free of people.  Here, I catch Mike on a boulder as we made our way across... Mike with Cathedral north buttress in the background...
Toulumne Meadows below... - At the end of the north buttress, I scrambled this boulder to gain a sweeping view of the Toulumne Meadows.  These very fragile meadows are located above 8,000 feet.  I found this spot very restful, and could have stayed for hours just to watch over the surrounding countryside... Tom overlooking Tuolumne Meadows...
Kicking back... - Always looking to outdo me, Mike finds this even more relaxing recliner.  Here I catch him kicking back at 10,600 feet, thoughtfully peering over the Toulumne.  Is this the life, or what!?! Mike relaxes overTuolumne Meadows...
Land of the domes... - Regulars may take it for granted, but I was surprised by the number of domes in the park.  Mike took this shot of Fairview Dome, with others in the background.  It'd be great to be able to take a couple months and explore them all... Fairview Dome...
Heading down... - With it getting into early afternoon, we decide to head down, and meet back up with Alan and Joe.  On the way down, Mike gets this shot of Budd Lake under Unicorn Peak and Echo Peaks.  The distant view of Matthes is hidden now... Budd Lake, Unicorn and Echo Peaks...
Playing the slots... - After Mike and I were finished playing around on Cathedral, we still had some time to spend in the area.  Mike had found this really cool slot canyon on the east shore of Budd Lake earlier.  Only 10 minutes from where we camped, we all head over for some fun.  Here, two canyon arms meet up where Mike can catch myself and Alan stemming the walls.  We spent around an hour in there playing Spiderman! Tom and Alan play in a slot canyon...

After finishing with the slot canyons, we headed out, did a little sight-seeing of the park, and then back towards the Bay, stopping along the way for pizza and beer (but of course).  Below 7,000 feet, we moved back into the weather which was pretty dreary, so at least we were lucky in that sense.  I think if had been nice, there would have been a ton more people, making it even less of a good trip.  I have to say that Yosemite granite is THE rock to climb, I now know the allure of this place, and I'll definitely be back!

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