Dan and Jason dayhike up Cathedral Rock trail - part 2
This was the third time this winter that I have attempted Cathedral Rock trail.
This trail is a very difficult dayhike with a round trip distance of about 20 miles, so that is the reason why I backpacked up to a basecamp, and then dayhiked on up. By doing so, I was able to limit my distances to 9 miles or less per day, which is a comfortable distance for difficult trails.
The elevation of the trail goes from about 5,300 feet up to about 7,300 feet, and so thin air was not much of a consideration. The trail gains about 2,000 feet, so it makes for a decent workout, especially with a 20 pound pack on my back.
Fortunately, Jason, whose cardiovascular system is fine tuned from his long distance and mountain biking regimen was kind enough as to volunteer to carry the daypack with both of our water bottles and lunch, so it went even easier for me anyway. :-) I had offered to trade off every half hour carrying the 20 pound pack, but I had told him that I'd probably be hiking slower while I was carrying the pack.
We got up and had breakfast, and were on our way by 9:30AM.
The air was perfect on that day when we started out, but as the day progressed, contrary to the weather forecast, the sky became overcast, and probably even rained in the valley. Unfortunately we were going up the mountain to get some pictures, and overcast is the last thing you want for picture taking. Ug.
About 90% of cathedral rock trail is the endless switchbacks on the north end of the trail. We started to work on those switchbacks, and as we continued, the rest of the world continued to become lower, and the view continued to become grander.
When we were up at about 6,500 feet, the trail continues climbing on Southward toward the saddle.
The clouds messed up my picture taking light, however, with the breeze, it made the temperatures of the climb nearly perfect. In fact, as we approached the saddle, it started to get downright cold, causing both of us to put on a second layer to stay warm, and I also put on a gaiter.
We finally reached to saddle, without ever needing to refer to the GPS. I had previously been told that the north leg from the saddle was especially difficult to do routefinding on, however I found it to be a piece of cake. Particularly easy after hiking the Samaniego ridge trail, where there was about 2 miles of trail past the spring where there wasn't any trail, and being able to find the trail on that jungle.
From the saddle, we headed west up the route to the rocks, and reached the plateau just west from and above the saddle. We walked around for a while, but realized when we sat down to have lunch that we were starting to feel a little fatigued and chilled in the cold breeze from the hike up, and that after lunch, we should probably head back down the trail.
We finished our lunch and I took some last few pictures, and then without delay, headed back down the trail to the base camp.
It took us about 4 hours to get up to the peak, but it only took about 90 minutes to get back down.
We were getting cold up at the saddle before we started down, but by the time we had dropped about 500 feet, we were out of the cold wind and were getting hot from the pace of hiking, so we took off the layer we had put on about an hour earlier.
It was a good hike up to the saddle. It was a little further than the maps said, but it was a manageable distance. We were fatigued by the time we got back to the basecamp to make dinner.
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