Yosemite's Budd Lake and Beyond

posted Jul 20, 2014, 4:01 PM by Paul Wagner
We're just back from a wonderful trip to the southern side of the Cathedral Range in Yosemite.  Because there are no marked trails through here, this area gets a lot less traffic than trails just a mile or two away.  And the scenery is simply spectacular.

We were hoping for an early start, but roadwork on Tioga Highway help us up and we didn't hit the trail until about 11 a.m....

We started up Budd Creek (no trail, although there is a trailhead for this route, and there is a use trail that starts further up the Cathedral Lakes trail) and simply followed the creek for about 3-4 miles up to Budd Lake.  Nothing complicated about the navigation, but this route goes pretty much straight up from the beginning, and doesn't stop climbing until just below the lake. 

That's Budd Lake at right.   

At the lake we ran into a couple of biologists who were netting the trout out of the lake, as well as a large clan of marmots. 

From there the route skirts the very southwest corner of Echo Peaks, and then heads straight down some steep granite until you can traverse over to the base of Matthes Crest.  From there down, it's pretty easy hiking all the way to the lake. 

And the views going over Echo Peak are fabulous. If the weather had been a little better, we would have been tempted to stay longer up there.  But the clouds were gathering, an darkening.  We kept moving to get down off the granite and into the canyon.

The photo below right gives you an idea of the scenery...and the skies that afternoon.

That evening we met a couple of climbers who were going to climb the crest the next day...so that added to our entertainment.  So did the thunderclouds that threatened us.  We heard thunder, saw lightning, but never felt a raindrop.  Gusty winds, but no rain.  And by nightfall the threat of rain had disappeared. 

After enjoying a very peaceful night at Echo Lake, we got up the next morning and headed cross-country to Matthes Lake, where the views are equally magnificent.  Again, the navigation is pretty straightforward.  You skirt the southern end of Matthes Crest, and head up the canyon.  You can't miss it. Stunningly beautiful.  And despite our worries, we didn't see but a few mosquitoes during the whole trip.

And then, after lunch and a nap, we climbed up a small ridge to the west of Echo Lake to enjoy the views of much of the western half of Yosemite National Park.  The route to the top was simple--we just headed up Echo Canyon until the trees would lead us up most of the way to the top.  Then it was simply walking the ledges to the summit. 

Meanwhile, the climbers were up on the top, and working their way north along the crest in perfect weather. We have a few photos of them in our Picasa report on this hike.  That link is here: https://picasaweb.google.com/balzaccom/Yosemite2014BuddLakeAndBeyond#

That evening we enjoyed the blue skies, congratulated the climbers on a job well done, and took a few photos around sunset--like the one below. 

Day three had us hiking up Echo Canyon to meet the John Muir Trail at Cathedral Pass.  As we did, we took one last look at Matthes Crest, and saw two climbers working their way back and forth on a hire wire act between the two high points of the northern crest. 


Here's a link to  the first of those photos:

We saw more people in the first ten minutes on the JMT than we had seen in the last 48 hours, and so the hike back to Tuolumne Meadows was a bit of a culture shock.  But the drive home, with memories of those fabulous peaks, put us a good mood for many hours.