TR: Rae Lakes Loop from Onion Valley 7/20/12-7/22/12

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TR: Rae Lakes Loop from Onion Valley 7/20/12-7/22/12

Post by cloudlesssky » Mon Jul 23, 2012 4:21 pm

I talked a friend into joining me on the Rae Lakes loop as a shakedown for a possible JMT trip in August. The goal was several days of mileage and elevation gain.

The plan:
  • Day 1: Onion Valley over Kearsarge Pass down Kings Canyon to Sphinx Junction (17mi/2700'+)
  • Day 2: Sphinx Junction through Paradise Valley, up Woods Creek to the JMT junction (15mi/3400ft+)
  • Day 3: Woods Creek/JMT junction through Rae Lakes Basin over Glen Pass to Charlotte Lake (8mi/3500ft+)
  • Day 4: Charlotte Lake over Kearsarge and drive home (7.5mi/1400ft+)
As it turns out, we felt good and skipped Charlotte Lake on the way back and just hiked out on day 3. There was some rain and hail in the vicinity of Glen Pass and I think that convinced us to exit early.

The report:

The trails were all in great shape. Water levels are low and areas that might otherwise have led to wet feet didn't. The only time my feet got wet (other than the slight rain on day 3), was when I slipped off a rock while crossing a small stream.

  • Sphinx Junction: Nice area with several good sites and bear box available. Also a composting toilet above main camping area. We took a spot by the creek that was really awesome. Only other people were a couple on their way out.
  • Woods Creek - JMT Junction: Lots of good campsites just south of the suspension bridge. Good thing too as there were lots of people. Bear boxes available as well as a composting toilet (just north of the junction on JMT)
  • Other notable spots: Paradise Valley and Rae Lakes areas have a nice selection of campsites.
Bugs: Annoying during the day at the lower elevations in Kings Canyon and up through Paradise Valley. Not an issue after dusk.

Temp: I spend most of my hiking time in the higher elevations so the temperature and wildlife at the lower elevations caught me a little offguard. It was hot the first night at 6300 ft.

Woods Creek burn area: There was a fire closure on the Woods Creek leg the day or two before we went through. It run from about 2 miles west of Upper Paradise Valley for about a mile or 1.5 mi. It apparently reopened on 7/20/12. We didn't have any problems going through on 7/21/12 but it was weird hiking through a still-smoldering (and in some small cases, burning) section of trail.

  • Snakes: There were rattlesnakes in Kings Canyon near the merge of Charlotte Creek into Bubbs Creek. I nearly stepped on one (I was moving pretty quickly and not paying attention). And about 1 mile after that, another one was tucked under the end of one of those fallen trees that forest service has cut a path through. He rattled before I saw him so he only startled me a little. Funny thing is in both cases several people had just passed in the opposite direct and no one mentioned either snake.
  • Bears: There was a bear at Sphinx Junction and some along the trail below Paradise Valley. My hiking partner ran into a bear with 3 cubs around Mist Falls
  • Deer: we saw some
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Re: TR: Rae Lakes Loop from Onion Valley 7/20/12-7/22/12

Post by maverick » Mon Jul 23, 2012 5:21 pm

Thanks for taking the time to write up this informative TR, and including some
pretty pictures. Never get tired of that view of Fin Dome.
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I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member:

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TR: Rae Lakes Loop from Onion Valley 7/20/12-7/22/12

Post by Bluewater » Tue Jul 24, 2012 3:40 pm

Looks like it was a great warm up trip for the JMT. Thanks for posting the mileage details.

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Re: TR: Rae Lakes Loop from Onion Valley 7/20/12-7/22/12

Post by deej » Wed Jul 25, 2012 5:12 am

Beautiful photos! I'm heading out there (destination: Rae Lakes/Sixty Lakes Basin) this weekend. Can't wait! Biggest issue is getting the permits. I might have to drive to Lone Pine on Friday, only to head back home on Saturday and leave Saturday afternoon (so we can get on trail Saturday night to remain legit). No night drop for that area. What the heck!!

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