Wednesday, July 28, 2010

In Search of Cathedral Peak Reflections

I started the day up near Saddlebag Lake to shoot a sunrise timelapse sequence on a nearby ridge. Then I hiked in to explore the lakes up by the old mining camp of Bennettville, hiking out in time to move to Tuolumne Meadows for a Cathedral Lakes sunset hike.

I arrived at Cathedral Lakes early enough to scout out both lakes. I arrived at Lower Cathedral Lake to find a enthusiastic welcoming committee of ravenous, probably disease-ridden, blood-sucking bugs. The few surviving human visitors to this lake were beating a hasty +retreat, doing what will be forever etched in my mind as the "Cathedral Lake dance," an awkward combination of jogging, arm-waving, stream-hopping and loud expletives.

Spotting a reflection of Cathedral Peak accompanied by an unreal, seemingly metallic cobalt rending of sky blue in the inky tea-colored waters of a nearby stagnant pool, I decided to make some use of the rock-like camera gear which for the past 3.5 miles had only served as ballast in my daypack. Aware of the risk of picking up some rare and exotic plague from the parasites spawned in this pool of decaying primordial goo, I blithely pulled out a small vial of insect repellent to keep the little pests at bay. The repellent was 100% DEET, which I knew was roughly 3.4 times stronger than the maximum effective concentration of 29% as determined by Consumer Reports. It's not possible to repel mosquitos any better than 100%, and I might grow new organs and evolve into some awkward new life form from excessive toxic chemical exposure, but perhaps I could keep the little buggers 3.4 times farther away and reduce my odds of becoming a curiousity at the Centers for Disease Control.

The chemical haze only served to confuse the little creatures, which continued to bump into my arms and legs, sing in my ears, dicover patches of unprotected flesh around my eyes, and (the last straw) congregate on my camera and in front of the lens.

I made quick work of the mosquito pond, checked the map for a possible direct route to the upper lake, and struck out to find a game trail that would lead me over the polished granite cliffs between me and my next destination.

I arrived at the upper lake to find mosquitos slightly lower in numbers, but no less annoying, so I kept moving farther up the westward granite slope to get farther and farther from their home. Eventually I ended up on a large and more or less flat rock way up the slope, killing time before sunset by killing mosquitos, and counting the ones resting on my camera and tripod (up to 12).

The wind picked up however, so I had to move down to the lake to increase my odds of finding some calm water to get the reflection that I had gone up there for. Fortunately the wind calmed down for a few minutes right when I needed it to, so I was able to catch a few good shots before making the long, dark hike back out to the trailhead at Tuolumne Meadows.