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Rae Lake Loop

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Rae Lake Loop

Postby nobadays » Mon Apr 13, 2015 3:18 pm

New to the forum... new to hiking the Sierras! Not new to hiking/backpacking. We are a young 60's couple with a permit entering from Onion Valley on June 21st for 6 days to do the Rae Lakes Loop (Looking to hike the JMT next year so want to get our feet wet in the Sierras.) Our most frequent backpacking trips are in the Grand Canyon (we live just south east of there in the mountains of central AZ @ 5000') so we are both accustomed to elevation and long climbs. Looking for guidance...

We have read a lot about the loop and scoured different forums - and the "interweb" for info. It seems most folks do this loop from Roads End and not from Onion Valley so info related to entering/looping from there is limited. I guess the main questions would be: Clockwise or counter clockwise -

Our first night will be at Charlotte Lake - we know we will get votes for both but it seems to us that if we go clockwise we will descend for a day and climb for the next 5. If we go counter clockwise we will hit Glenn Pass early second day then descend for the next 20 miles before about about 14 miles of climbing to put us back on top of Kearsarge Pass (we would likely split that into 2 days camping along Bubbs Creek.)

Advantages? Disadvantages? The obvious disadvantage is steeper climbing the last 2 days on the trail. Would it be more enjoyable to do the more gradual 20 miles of climbing than the 14 steeper miles? (BTW we do have a Bear Vault)

And... maybe just not loop at all but visit Charlotte, Rae, Arrow Head, Dollar and the 60 Lakes Basin??

Thank you so much in advance for helping make our first trip to the Sierras a great one!

Don & Susan



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Re: Rae Lake Loop

Postby maverick » Mon Apr 13, 2015 3:32 pm

Hi Don and Susan,

Welcome to HST! Your post was split off from the other thread so you can ask your question independent
of the original thread and therefore not piggyback on it.
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Re: Rae Lake Loop

Postby nobadays » Mon Apr 13, 2015 4:11 pm

Thank you for your "moderator" work! I have been searching around on here more and found a form that is apparently used when asking for info? I think I included a lot of the requested information but just to be complete, here it is:

What level of backpacking experience do you have?

Level 2- Some backpacking trips, using trails (a lot of hiking experience)


What terrain are you comfortable/uncomfortable with?

- Class 2 terrain/pass/x-country
- River crossings - if necessary but don't like it!
- Snow travel/Glacier crossings - if necessary (have Yak Traks for use in the GC on packed snow/ice) but hope the passes will be clear.

What is your main interest?

- Big Mountain scenery, lakes, forests, photography in that order.



How many days/nights is your trip, not including travel to trailhead?

6 days/5 nights

How many miles did you want to do a day, any layovers?

Comfortable with 8-12 but have done over 20 (needed a rest day after that)

Do you have a route logistics preference:

loop or out and back.

Is there a particular area in the Sierra that your most interested in(Yosemite, SEKI
western sierra start or eastern start ect.)?

SEKI

Will you be hiking with a dog?

No

I hope this helps! Please refer to the original post for questions regarding the Rae Lakes Loop.

Thank you again!

Don & Susan
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Re: Rae Lake Loop

Postby maverick » Mon Apr 13, 2015 4:28 pm

Personally I do not think you would miss much by not doing the loop, but instead spend time
checking out Dragon Lake, Rae Lakes, and 60 Lakes Basin. These are the highlights of the loop
and most people spend 1 or 2 days max before moving on, having 5 nights you can do some great
exploring in some beautiful country that other just rush through.
Also having a bear canister allows you to stay at Dragon and 60 Lakes Basin a few nights, there
is a 2 nights max per lake in Rae Lakes Basin.
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Re: Rae Lake Loop

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon Apr 13, 2015 7:27 pm

If you still do the loop, I would stay flexible. If weather is poor, go down Bubbs Creek ( clockwise) ; if weather is good go over Glen Pass (counter-clockwise). Glen Pass is the only weather-critical part of the route and is better done in the morning if there are afternoon thunderstorms. Do a detailed daily travel plan for going both ways. One way may simply pop out with better logistics and each night spent at more scenic spots. Another thing to watch out for is legal camping limit as you near Roads End. Campsites along Bubbs creek, below Junction Meadow are not particularly scenic. Personally, I think Woods Creek is more scenic. Camping at Castle Domes Meadow is very scenic but not plush. The campsite at the end of Paradise Valley is woodsy without views. The water quality at Dollar Lake is disgusting; Arrowhead Lake is nicer. Rae Lakes are the most scenic. The hike up to Kearsarge Pass actually has some of the best scenery. From the trail at Flower Lake outlet there is a use-trail to Matlock Lake, which is outstandingly scenic. Rather than spending the night at the Onion Valley campground, if you can arrive before about 2PM, I would go for Matlock Lake. There are beautiful campsites with views at the outlet of Kearsarge Lake 3321. The crowds will be up at the two northern Kearsarge Lakes. There are some scenic spots just below Lower Vidette Meadow. Almost all the more-used established campsites on the route are in timber without views.

I do agree, that if I had 5 nights and were going in from Onion Valley I would not do the loop. I would instead go to Reflection Lake, Sixty Lakes Basin and Rae Lakes - skip the rest.
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Re: Rae Lake Loop

Postby MountainMinstrel » Tue Apr 14, 2015 9:39 pm

A agree about glen pass. When I did the loop from roads end clockwise we were hit with one of the worst thunderstorms I had been in at Rae Lakes. It hit us about 3:00 and lasted a good two hours. Later that evening I talked with a group who spent those two hours face down on the trail at Glen. Not my idea of a fun afternoon.
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Re: Rae Lake Loop

Postby nobadays » Wed Apr 15, 2015 5:22 am

Thanks Maverick, WD and MM for your help! We are leaning toward not doing the loop. Tentatively: first night Charlotte Lake (per the permit) then over Glenn Pass to Dollar Lake - back-tracking to Arrowhead to camp, then maybe 60 lakes basin for 2 nights, last night at Charlotte again and hike out the next day. You guys are the experienced ones - suggestions? (Maverick mentioned Dragon Lake, near Rae lakes?)

Additionally, I see the mosquito map from last year indicated this area was not too bad - new year I know but last week of June in this area typically fairly light on mosquitoes or just prepare for the worst and hope for the best! It also would seem if these areas are not as heavily trafficked the bear population may not so readily associate people with food - we hike/backpack with bears here in North Central AZ but they have never bothered us at all, rather run when they see us. Is this a good assumption or are Sierra bears just naturally curious?

Silly questions I suppose so please excuse the ignorance of Sierra hiking!

Thanks, Don & Susan
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Rae Lake Loop

Postby AlmostThere » Wed Apr 15, 2015 7:05 am

Sierra bears in the parks, and sometimes outside them, are used to free lunches from careless hikers. A bear can is highly recommended for that area. The Bears are relentless thieves. There is a lot of people through the Rae loop between the popularity of the loop plus the backside of the loop is the John Muir "freeway".
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Re: Rae Lake Loop

Postby nobadays » Wed Apr 22, 2015 12:59 pm

Thank you all for your input and help! We won't be much help on this forum - not having ever hiked in the Sierra, but we appreciate the help and are looking forward to our end of June hike into the east side via Kearsarge pass.

Don and Susan
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Re: Rae Lake Loop

Postby maverick » Wed Apr 22, 2015 2:04 pm

Don /Susan wrote:
We won't be much help on this forum - not having ever hiked in the Sierra, but we appreciate the help and are looking forward
to our end of June hike into the east side via Kearsarge pass.


Anytime you write up a TR and post pictures, it not only helps others see the conditions on that particular route, but also bring joys to
the souls of those members who may not get the chance to get out this year due to work, family, or illness related issues.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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