Trail Report: Rae Lakes July 2021

January 7, 2022 // Tom - hiking

The following piece will be a collection of journal entries I wrote during my second time out on the Rae Lakes Loop trail in 2021. Lightly edited for spelling and clarity. I wrote each entry after finishing each day.

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We started from “Road’s End” (left side of map), and completed the route counter clockwise. The total loop is around 52 miles. cover

Zero Day

We got into Gena's Inn around 7:30 pm. Caught some evening beers. I
repacked my stuff, like ALL of it. Rental stuff is always folded weird. 
Anyways. REI did a good job of cleaning it as usual. Nearly lost my trowel
when repacking, that would have sucked! My pack overall, is fairly light 
and I actually counted calories / ouz to be more efficient with my food. I
swear planning for a hike is half the fun. I love doing a spread sheet for
this stuff. Anyways, it might RAIN in the park tomorrow so I’m super
excited for that. We’re getting up super early, so I should
probably get some sleep!

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After driving 4 hours, we were pretty beat, fortunately Gena’s has a diner attached. It’s another hour drive into the park, so waking up early is necessary.

Day 1 - 10.3 mi +3625’

We left the hotel around 6:30am, we ended up being delayed by a slow park
ranger and a lot of clueless park guests. We finally got started around 10
am. Not super great, but considering the temps were okay, we e pressed on.
We got into camp around 5:50 pm. I’m super fucking tired. I can’t seem to 
eat enough on these trips, I think it’s a bad combo of excitement and 
altitude. Anyways I ate 3/4 of my dinner and dumped the rest. My new water
system is bitching! It’s fast and high volume. No more waking up at night 
with a dry throat. Anyways, I’m glad my SATCOM works, I really miss
Cassady, she’s really the love of my life.

We climbed up from Road’s End, past the killer switchbacks, ascending higher along Bubb’s Creek

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I pitched camp quickly, grabbed some food, filled some water for the morning. The hardest day was tomorrow.

Day 2 - 9.6 mi +4426’ -2206’

We packed camp at junction valley and headed off towards Glen Pass,
definitely the hardest day so far. 4500 feet of climbing to reach the top 
of the pass. I actually managed to stay fueled up the entire way! After
Glenn Pass, I sent it the ~2 miles down to Middle Raw to get a good 
campsite. I got nearly the same one as last time. Having a 2p (person)
tent with one person is great, you can put your tent against rocks and 
stuff. Much cozier that way. I pitched camp and flagged down A & E (Adam
and Erica) once they got into camp. I had some Shin ramen, which was 
AMAZING. I might just eat that for dinner honestly. We had some light 
rain last night too. That was prettty cool. The views here are world 
class! And the hard part of the trip is done!

The next day we packed up, and started climbing further. We needed to get up and over Glen Pass, which is the highest point in our trip at 12,000 ft.

cover Hitting the trail, climbing out of Junction Meadow

cover Forking off onto the John Muir Trail / Pacific Crest Trail

cover Dry lakebed near Charlotte Lake

cover More climbing, overlooking Charlotte Lake

cover Getting above the timberline, very little ground cover

cover Overlooking a high Sierra lake just before Glenn pass

After reaching the pass, I broke from the group and jogged the 2 mi down to camp.

cover Losing altitude fast! Descending into Rae Lakes

cover A section above Rae that looks absolutely unreal!

cover Crossing from Upper Rae to Middle Rae Lake

I got into the campsite, surrounded by breathtaking views. I found a nice boulder to pitch my tent near, setup camp and got some food.

cover Tent overlooking Finn Dome

cover Cloud cover and light rain moved in an hour later. We got some overnight rain too.

Day 3 - 13 mi -4235’

We decided to skip the Woods Creek crossing site to stay at Upper Paradise
Valley. The Initial launch wasn’t bad, we were making 30 min minute miles.
We grabbed lunch at Woods Creek and decided to push through. My shoulders 
didn’t take kindly to that, good thing we’re exiting tomorrow! We also ran 
into a mini thunder storm. I got soaked, then soaked my shoes trying to 
cross Upper Paradise (stream). A lot of stuff got wet, hopefully we don’t 
get any more rain. Anyways tomorrow will be the shortest day yet, and we 
get to go home.

Waking up, I was treated to an amazing view. Rae Lakes before the sun had broken over the side of the high valley. I filtered some more water from the lake, made some miso soup and had breakfast.

cover Beautiful view of the Painted Lady, across the Middle Lake

I tried my hand at becoming a nature photographer. There’s a lot of wild deer who are extremely curious why we’re so far up in the mountains.

A little tent tour!

cover Hanging out and relaxing after breakfast

cover The sun finally hitting Finn Dome

cover My pack fully loaded up and ready to go!

We packed up and headed out, and started hiking down to Wood’s Creek Crossing. We got some lunch just after the JMT forks again to continue north.

cover Bear!

cover Wood’s Creek

cover Getting into the Upper Paradise Meadow

We had originally planned to break the trip into an extra day, staying at Wood’s Creek. We decided to push through to Upper Paradise and exit the next day. However, we got an unexpected thunderstorm chasing us down the valley.

cover Uh Oh

cover Beautiful misting rain in the high Sierra

I heard a couple of thunder cracks echoing around the valley as I rushed to camp. I botched a stream crossing and soaked my shoes, but I was able to get tent pitched in a relatively dry spot. Since I had sent it down the mountain, my friends got in around 45 minutes after me and I could help them navigate the stream. In hindsight, I definitely should have put on my Chaco’s, clipped my boots to my pack and just walked across in the shin deep water.

Day 4 - 12 mi -2634’

Exit day! I didn’t write a journal for this one since I was sound asleep in my bed the same night.

cover Finally some sun!

cover Now we’re flying down the valley

cover We hit the top of Mist Falls in no time

After the rain, we were definitely ready to get home, I didn’t take many photos on the way down to Mist Falls. We encountered some day hikers taking a break at the falls. We stopped to get some last bit of water and get lunch. Perfect time to grab some more nature photography!

Mist falls was very nice! Super relaxing and well needed before we pushed through to the car. The last couple of miles were extremely easy, especially at lower altitude. We drove back through Fresno, got some in-n-out, and drove back to the Bay Area.

Thanks for reading!