Forum Index > Trip Reports > Cathedral slam 10/15-16
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PostMon Oct 17, 2022 10:24 pm 
I originally had another Pasayten loop planned for this weekend, but changed my mind at the last minute. The call of nostalgia? I haven't been to this particular part of Pasayten in over ten years, and that was the backpacking trip that made me really fall in love with Washington. But this time, I planned to tag a few Bulgers while I was at it. I left Seattle shortly after work on Fri night, and got to Thirtymile TH around 2230. There were two other cars there, which felt crowded for Pasayten. I briefly debated whether to hike in a few miles or sleep in my car. Knowing I have a hard time dragging myself out of my sleeping bag when it's cold out, I opted to sleep in my car. I set my alarm for 3am. And proceeded to reset it to 4am when it went off. I finally hit the trail at 0445. The moon and stars were so bright I did not need my headlamp. It was beautiful! I love moonlit hiking. I passed a group just waking up maybe 5 miles in, as the sky was starting to get light. I made it to the start of the loop around 0730. Making good time! I took a quick break for coffee and breakfast and carried on counterclockwise. Lots of animal tracks - deer, elk, coyotes, various small mammals. I heard some large critters moving around, but only caught glimpses of movement through the vegetation. They were presumably deer or elk. I had a lot of ground to cover, so did not linger. I got to the junction with the Boundary trail around 1030. I checked out the tungsten mine and the camp. Last time I was here, I didn't go into the old cabin. This time I did, and found this lovely note.
I also threw a couple horseshoes, and failed miserably.
It was getting warm, and I was starting to slow down. Onward dammit! I wanted to have lunch on Apex (not a Bulger, but an easy summit to tag on the loop). I turned up at the pass, and slowly plodded up through the larches to the gently sloped summit. The larches were a bit past their peak, but still absolutely beautiful. The weather station up there looks brand spankin' new. It was hard to tell where exactly the summit was. The summit register is on a small pile of boulders beyond the point marked as the summit on Caltopo. There's no writing utensil in it, but I had a pen with me. It's a nice weather-proof pen, so I did not leave it behind. Someone else should bring one up! Lovely views of Cathedral pass, Tungsten lake, BC, and what I could see of the north Cascades through the wildfire smoke. I could just barely make out Black peak behind Big Craggy, and waved at some friends who were out there.
I had lunch next to the weather station and proceeded back downhill and towards Cathedral pass. Man, Cathedral peak, what a gorgeous mountain from this side.
I briefly considered running up The Pope and tagging the border. Alas, reason prevailed! Instead, I took the hot route up Cathedral - that big scree gully. Not sure if it's any faster than going all the way up the pass then hanging a right. The scramble to the summit was fun - mostly class 3 with one or two class 4 moves. Lots of cairns to follow, so no route finding necessary. I did not find a summit register, so someone should bring one up!
Lovely views of upper and lower Cathedral lakes surrounded by larches. I think it was maybe 1530 by now? I was starting to get tired, and I still had a ways to go. I made my way down to the basin, soaking up the light through the larches. Then turned into Amphitheater basin.
Now I had to make a decision - summit Amphitheater tonight, or set up camp somewhere nearby and summit first thing tomorrow? I went with the former. My right foot was hurting a little bit - mild tendonitis? I made it up there around 1745. Sunset soon! I found a spot somewhat protected from the cold wind, and shoveled down my dinner along with some ibuprofen while watching the sun set.
Time to make it to camp! My goal was to make it to Remmel lake. I had to take out my headlamp part of the way there. I made it there maybe around 1930? I was surprised to see another group already camped there. I gave them some space and found myself a nice spot on the edge of the trees. So glad to be cowboy camping and not have to spend time and energy setting up a tent. Unfortunately, I was too tired to enjoy the best part of cowboy camping - the star gazing. I think I looked at the stars for about 30 seconds before I passed out. I did wake up when the wind picked up for a few hours, and again when the moon came up. I woke up for good maybe around 0600? But I was too comfortable in my cocoon. I watched Remmel become sunlit before I finally emerged as a very ugly and grumpy butterfly.
Then I saw the frost on my shoes. Then I saw the hose on my water bladder was frozen. Then I realized I had forgotten to put my water filter in my sleeping bag with me. WHOOPS. This was not my first water filter mishap, and I was glad to have chlorine tablets with me. By the time I got myself sorted out and hit the trail, it was about 0830. To save myself about a 1/2 mile, I took the abandoned trail south of the lake. There was a section that was completely gone, but following Caltopo was not difficult. The Chewuch river trail is a plod through an old burn zone. Then my brain decided to have one of those moments. "OH HEY you took a big ole sh## right there over ten years ago!" ... ... ... ANYWAYS. I had a belated coffee and a snack at the junction with the Four point trail, then headed up. Lots of blow downs on this trail. Once past the junction to the lake, the landscape starts opening up a bit. Gorgeous! But my body was definitely feeling yesterday's miles now, and I was moving ultra slowly.
It took me forever to make it to the summit, but I finally made it around 1400! Woohoo! I savored the views along with my lunch.
Then it was time to hit those last 16 miles back to the trailhead. Rather unfortunately, I had my second mishap of the trip on my way down from Remmel. I took a funny step, and sprained my right ankle. AUGH. I guess that tendon that had been bothering my since late the day before finally gave up. DAMMIT. Well, those last 15.5 miles are just gonna be extra magical. I gave myself a few minutes to curse the world, then realized the sprain wasn't too terrible and I could mostly weight my foot. My leukotape seemed to have melted into one giant mass sometime during the summer. I took some more ibuprofen, and called it good. Navigating the blowdowns was extra painful, but otherwise it was mostly ok. Then the super extra long 12 mostly flat miles out. I really dislike long flat sections. Then it got dark and I pulled out my headlamp. At some point I started getting a little nauseous, possibly because I hadn't eaten enough. I had some food left, but zero desire to stop and eat. I just wanted to get the hell out. Somewhere during the last 5 miles, I suddenly heard a branch cracking then a big "ploof!" in the river below me. I stopped for a minute. Then I hiked on. Then "ploof!" "ploof!" "ploof!" I felt so bad for whatever critters I had startled into the water! And somehow, somehow I made it back to the trailhead around 2045. What an eternity of two days! I used the outhouse, chit chatted with some hikers who had just arrived, had a small snack, and headed back to Seattle. What an epic weekend.

BensonM, Now I Fly, Brushbuffalo, rubywrangler, Eric Gilbertson, Silas, Bramble_Scramble, jaysway
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mtn.climber
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PostTue Oct 18, 2022 4:19 pm 
Wow!! We did the same hike, and hit the same summits. But we did it over 5 days. Impressive effort!

Reach for the sky, cuz tomorrow may never come. Live the life of love. Love the life you live.
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PostTue Oct 18, 2022 8:08 pm 
Thank you! It was a bit ridiculous, but I couldn't take time off work. I figured that since I'd been there before, I wouldn't be too mad about not having time to sit and enjoy the scenery. I just read your trip report, and it also sounds like the blowdowns were far worse for you than they were for me.

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neek
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PostThu Oct 20, 2022 7:39 am 
Missed you by a day. Sounds like you didn't have any trouble with the Cathedral chasm crossing. I found it terrifying! Lovely area though. Fun report, thanks for sharing. You say that's a weather station on Apex? I didn't see any measurement gizmos or anything.

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