up/down: approx. 2000/4500 feet
New Mariposa county bird: Pacific Wren
When we hiked the PCT through the Sierra we bagged most of the John Muir Trail. The missing pieces were from the top of Mt Whitney to Crabtree Meadow (which we've done twice on other trips) and the 20+ miles from Tuolumne Meadows to the valley in Yosemite . With a good weather window we decided to go to Yosemite and get those last miles.
We talked our friend Hikin' Bill into going with us. We easily obtained a walk up permit for the Cathedral Lakes trailhead and were going by 8:30. It's a steep climb from the road up to the Cathedral Lakes basin but so beautiful you hardly notice. Passing through the basin and over Cathedral Pass was spectacular.
Next up was the ridge over to Sunrise High Sierra Camp (now closed for the season) and the another climb before descending several thousand feet in elevation down Sunrise Creek. There was a large burn in this section which was disappointing. As we approached the bottom of the drop we passed the short spur trail to climb Half Dome. This requires a special permit and wasn't on our agenda. Another mile and we were at the bottom in Little Yosemite Valley. We needed to go no further towards the valley as we have hiked this piece from the bottom a couple times in years past. The huge backcountry campground here (for Half Dome Hikers) held no appeal so we started on our return route up Little Yosemite Valley for a few miles along the Merced River. Unfortunately we were back in the burn and couldn't get out before we ran out of daylight and had to call it a day. Tomorrow we will ascend the Merced to Echo Valley, turning up Echo Creek, then attempt a cross-country route to Nelson Lake. Should be interesting!