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Rae Lakes loop in under 2 days.

11:27 a.m. on May 27, 2013 (EDT)
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Did a spur of the moment Rae Lakes Loop hike. Decided I was going to hike it Wednesday, and started the drive Friday evening. Started 24 May 2013.

Trip length was 47 miles.

After last years Baxter Pass deathhike, I totally revamped my gear and got my full 4 day pack (includes water) to 15.8 pounds. 

Full gear list to come.

I decided to do the loop clockwise, that way my initial elevation gain was more gradual, as I just came from sea level 6 hours prior.

I started my hike from Roads End in the late afternoon. This was my first picture of the hike. This is on the trail towards Mist Falls.
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11:31 a.m. on May 27, 2013 (EDT)
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A little ways up. The "boil" or plume of water in the picture is about 10 feet tall. Air temperature was perfect, I would guess it was in the 70's (F)
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11:34 a.m. on May 27, 2013 (EDT)
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Hiking into the evening. I saw quite a few does past Mist Falls, this picture was taken 9.3 miles up at my first break. I sat down and enjoyed some pumpkin seeds and chilled out with this not very shy doe.
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11:37 a.m. on May 27, 2013 (EDT)
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A skinny waterfall. There were a lot of these along the valley floor hike. This particular one isn't special, I just happened to pull the camera out when I took a swig of water.
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11:44 a.m. on May 27, 2013 (EDT)
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Morning light. I am very close to the upper Paradise Valley here.

I took a quick nap between Sundown and Moonrise. I had basically a full Moon the entire trip, so night illumination was fantastic. Nighttime temps were warm in my opinion.

I hastily grabbed some oatmeal at the store (the trip was a last minute decision!) and I accidentally grabbed the "Low Sugar" stuff. Man, what a rude surprise, it had that fake sugar in it. No big deal, I will survive.
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11:46 a.m. on May 27, 2013 (EDT)
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Still in Paradise Valley, hiking east.
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12:07 p.m. on May 27, 2013 (EDT)
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My 15.8 pound 4 day pack. 

Here is the packing list.

Pack- Kelty MAP daypack. Super comfortable, and extremely robust.

Sleeping Bag- Western Mountaineering Caribou MF. A tiny down bag that weighs sub 1.5 pounds. 

Tarp- USGI heavy duty spaceblanket. 12.01 oz.

Air Mattress- Big Agnes Iron Mountain.

Headlamp- Princeton Tech with fresh batteries. 

Water- One Nalgene, 1 liter capacity.

Cookware- Snow Peak titanium cup. Titanium spoon. MSR Pocketrocket and the smallest (3.9 oz.) cannister. One Mini Bic lighter.

Medical- 40 Motrin tablets.

Knife- Mini Swiss Army.

Map, Compass- Topo map and Silva 123 compass.

Clothing- NF fleece. Fleece beanie, and extra pair of socks.

Food- 2 Slim Jims. 4 dehydrated dinner meals. 6 oz. of Pumpkin seeds. 6 Clif Bars. 6 packets instant oatmeal. Coffee and sugar.

I was toasty warm at night, even sleeping at the snow covered base of Glen Pass at 11,500 feet. 

I could drop a few ounces still with a lighter canteen, but I like my water vessel to be robust, as water is all that really matters in the backcountry.

This picture was taken at the start, so it got even smaller and lighter as I went.


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12:11 p.m. on May 27, 2013 (EDT)
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Upper Paradise in the morning light. I actually saw 3 gorgeous Bucks in full velvet. Paradise Valley is a Fairy Tale world. The lush meadow is contained within awe inspiring rock formations. Picture do not do it justice.
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12:12 p.m. on May 27, 2013 (EDT)
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In case you missed the Buck in the first picture! 
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12:14 p.m. on May 27, 2013 (EDT)
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Coming out of Paradise Valley, before I hit Dollar Lake.
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12:16 p.m. on May 27, 2013 (EDT)
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I don't recall why I took this picture, but it most have been something cool!
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12:21 p.m. on May 27, 2013 (EDT)
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I made a time schedule, and had every intersection planned down to the wire. I am 4 minutes ahead of schedule at this sign. There is hardly a better feeling than knowing your body's abilities so well you can accurately predict how long it will take to cover X distance. I was hooting and hollering when I checked my watch!
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12:25 p.m. on May 27, 2013 (EDT)
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On the John Muir Trail. A totally fun suspension bridge, swings and undulates just like in the movies........(or like a suspension bridge).

A bit of man-made that makes the trip a little more enjoyable. They built it right, it fits in perfectly.
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12:26 p.m. on May 27, 2013 (EDT)
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10 Grand. This is the beginning of yet another awe inspiring section.
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12:29 p.m. on May 27, 2013 (EDT)
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This is where I came out from last year's Baxter Pass death hike. This is at the incredible Dollar lake. Pack weight from 32 pounds to 15.8, what a difference.
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12:29 p.m. on May 27, 2013 (EDT)
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Dollar Lake. Cold, deep and perfect.
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12:32 p.m. on May 27, 2013 (EDT)
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More of Dollar. Last year, this was the lake that I hit first after going over the Baxter Pass. I was absolutely spent after going over Baxter, and I remember sitting here exhausted. I will always have a soft spot for Dollar Lake.
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12:33 p.m. on May 27, 2013 (EDT)
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Rae Lakes area. Beyond gorgeous.
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12:35 p.m. on May 27, 2013 (EDT)
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More Rae Lakes area. Getting closer to Glen Pass.
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12:36 p.m. on May 27, 2013 (EDT)
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I would love to have a Kayak up here. Just look at that easy launch beach.
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12:38 p.m. on May 27, 2013 (EDT)
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Stopped to eat a snack, and enjoy the warm, clean air.

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12:39 p.m. on May 27, 2013 (EDT)
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A truly striking peak. It was gigantic.
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12:41 p.m. on May 27, 2013 (EDT)
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Glen Pass is around the corner. I have to start figuring out the time schedule for ascent.
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12:51 p.m. on May 27, 2013 (EDT)
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My campsite. You don't need a tent, only a really good down bag.

I will have to climb the North face of Glen Pass, and the ascent is basically vertical. I want to climb it when it is frozen, and not after the sun has softened the snow throughout the day. I got to the base of the pass in the evening, and decided to catch some sleep and wait for first light when I know the snow would be ice.

I considered going up after Moonrise, but I was pretty tired, and figured that would be a foolhardy move. I was plenty warm, slept like a log.

I faced my sleeping bag East so I would wake the instant the Sun busted over the horizon.

I got up, cooked my "Sugar Free" oatmeal, doubled my coffee and sugar ration, popped 3 Motrin tablets, and was ready to go. From waking up until "Pack on back" was 16 minutes....................I got this stuff dialed! 
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12:54 p.m. on May 27, 2013 (EDT)
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Glen Pass. I camped right here, this is the morning light hitting the North face. Don't let the picture fool you, it is basically straight up.
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12:55 p.m. on May 27, 2013 (EDT)
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If you look very closely, you can see some tracks at the summit. 
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12:59 p.m. on May 27, 2013 (EDT)
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A third of the way up, looking down from where I came. I used the frozen face to my advantage, and climbed with my trekking poles collapsed like 2 makeshift ice axes if you will. 

That is a frozen lake below. What incredible fun.
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1:04 p.m. on May 27, 2013 (EDT)
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Yep, it's that steep! Can you imagine climbing this cat in the afternoon and you "post hole" to your hips? I live for this stuff.

Man, was I glad that I had made the decision to climb first light.
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1:11 p.m. on May 27, 2013 (EDT)
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Almost at the top. I came up this thing?

I was wearing my NF zip-off pants and my lightweight Merrell Moab Summer boots. I used my Black Diamond Alpine Carbon poles at full collapse. 

I just plugged away, got into a good rhythm and scaled this face in an hour. I was feeling really good this morning.
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1:12 p.m. on May 27, 2013 (EDT)
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End of the ice and snow! This is at 11,978 feet.
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1:14 p.m. on May 27, 2013 (EDT)
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South side of Glen Pass. All down hill from here. I extended my poles to 130cm and booked on down. The air was cool and still.
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1:18 p.m. on May 27, 2013 (EDT)
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At the top. Just blue sky in the background, no mountains. 

The polarized REI glasses are great, lightweight and they really shield your eyes. You can't tell from the picture, but I am wearing my California Flag hat.
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1:34 p.m. on May 27, 2013 (EDT)
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Last Picture of the trip. I was going for speed, so the next 20 or so miles were non-stop. This was at a water refill under Mt. Bago.

Trip Notes-

47 miles (1 mile detour to Charlotte Lake) in 45 hours. 

Weather forecast was 0% chance of rain, you have to trust 'em sometimes! I had no raingear, and of course it never rained.

Weather was exactly perfect, shorts during the day, fleece top at night.

I was hoping to see a UFO, but no such luck. How come everybody else gets to see UFO's but me?

Light pack made 100% difference. I literally could not feel the pack weight, never used the hip-belt.

Slept warm and comfortable, luxury item was the air mattress.

You don't need gloves, spare batteries, etc. etc. to have a great hike.

I was more comfortable day and night than I have been in my 30 plus years of hiking..............all because my pack weight was so minimal. 

Can you imagine doing 47 miles and feel like you have nothing on your back? 

That's it. Thanks for reading my report.

Android-


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2:25 p.m. on May 27, 2013 (EDT)
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Thank you for all the photos, looks pretty nice out, never realized it looked that nice before the suspension bridge.  I think my feet would be tore up, putting that many miles in, in such a short time.  I managed to top out on Glen a few years ago in a little over an hour, following the trail up, just wish I could keep my energy level up through out the day.  Getting too old, but love to give the younger folks a run for the money.

Duane

5:10 p.m. on May 27, 2013 (EDT)
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hikerduane said:

Thank you for all the photos, looks pretty nice out, never realized it looked that nice before the suspension bridge.  I think my feet would be tore up, putting that many miles in, in such a short time.  I managed to top out on Glen a few years ago in a little over an hour, following the trail up, just wish I could keep my energy level up through out the day.  Getting too old, but love to give the younger folks a run for the money.

Duane

 Thanks for reading the report.

I maintain my energy levels by what I call " Dosing".

I am an older guy (low 40's) and have my backpacking down to a science.

I wake up and take 3 Motrin tablets with breakfast. at 10:00AM I take 2 more. At 2:00PM I take 2 more, and before bed I take 3. I consume exactly 10 a day. ( that's why I have 40 for my 4 day load.) I only use Motrin on my hikes, not day to day- that way I don't build a tolerance, and they really work!

I eat my snacks in tiny portions, maybe 40-50 seeds at a time, just a pinch basically, 4 times per day.

I consume 1 full size Slim-Jim (greasy, fatty, and perfect on the trail) per day whenever I feel slightly hungry, or right before a Pass.

I consume 1.5 to 2 Clif bars per day.

This is an altitude hike, at sea level to 5000 feet I have to eat way more (don't ask me why) but I also don't use the Motrin supplement.

Basically you have to strike first when you get older, if you feel hungry or thirsty you are already too late.........the damage is done. I dose my calories and water one step ahead. Works for me.

I had food left over, as I packed for 4 days but did it in 2.

And yes, I do dream of electric sheep.....

10:02 p.m. on May 27, 2013 (EDT)
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Motrin is ibuprofen, aka among climbers as "Vitamin I". Some recent studies have shown that a particular dosage regimen when heading to altitude is almost as effective for acclimatization for a large fraction of the population as Diamox, without some of the side effects. The standard usage is for relief of inflamation, as with any of the NSAIDS. In other words, muscle and joint pain. Motrin, being a brand name of McNeill, costs more than generic ibuprofen, which can pretty much give you the same effect.

What's this nonsense about being an "older guy"? You aren't even "middle aged". From my perspective, as an Old GreyBearded One, and a card-carrying elderly, forced by the government to take MRDs each year, you are just a kid.

Anyway, a few years ago, I did the same Rae Lakes loop in a bit over 14 hours. Familiarity with the area and carrying essentially no load makes a difference. My bud, who started with me, finished almost an hour ahead of me. We decided that was only acceptable because we had been to the area a few times before. That's too fast to really enjoy that really beautiful part of the Sierra. 

11:25 p.m. on May 27, 2013 (EDT)
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That's a heck of a lot more than I would want to do in two days!

The picture that you call Upper Paradise looks like it was taken at Castle Domes Meadow.  Upper Paradise Valley essentially ends about where you cross the bridge over the South Fork Kings.

12:59 a.m. on May 28, 2013 (EDT)
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Bill S said:

Motrin is ibuprofen, aka among climbers as "Vitamin I". Some recent studies have shown that a particular dosage regimen when heading to altitude is almost as effective for acclimatization for a large fraction of the population as Diamox, without some of the side effects. The standard usage is for relief of inflamation, as with any of the NSAIDS. In other words, muscle and joint pain. Motrin, being a brand name of McNeill, costs more than generic ibuprofen, which can pretty much give you the same effect.

What's this nonsense about being an "older guy"? You aren't even "middle aged". From my perspective, as an Old GreyBearded One, and a card-carrying elderly, forced by the government to take MRDs each year, you are just a kid.

Anyway, a few years ago, I did the same Rae Lakes loop in a bit over 14 hours. Familiarity with the area and carrying essentially no load makes a difference. My bud, who started with me, finished almost an hour ahead of me. We decided that was only acceptable because we had been to the area a few times before. That's too fast to really enjoy that really beautiful part of the Sierra. 

 

14 hours is super fast. I actually did take it all in and didn't really rush it until the end. With a light pack, I would say clockwise is better, but if the pack is heavy, then perhaps counter is the smarter direction for the Loop.

 

1:05 a.m. on May 28, 2013 (EDT)
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lambertiana said:

That's a heck of a lot more than I would want to do in two days!

The picture that you call Upper Paradise looks like it was taken at Castle Domes Meadow.  Upper Paradise Valley essentially ends about where you cross the bridge over the South Fork Kings.

 I just checked my map, and you are right. That is the Castle Domes Meadow.

I assumed it was the uppermost portion of Paradise Valley, but it is definitely past it. Thanks for the clarification.

11:14 a.m. on May 28, 2013 (EDT)
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14 hours is super fast. I actually did take it all in and didn't really rush it until the end. With a light pack, I would say clockwise is better, but if the pack is heavy, then perhaps counter is the smarter direction for the Loop.

 

 

14 hours is a bit over 3 mph, which is a moderately brisk walk, not really fast at all. There is a Sierra Club Group here in the SFBay Area called the Day Hikes Group that has a 25 to 40 mile hike every couple of months. Some of these link up several parks and Open Space Reserves, often through the redwoods, but sometimes through a single park like Henry Coe. They are all chosen so there are plenty of water stops. One of my favorites is the "7 Parks" hike. You start and end at Saratoga Gap. Head north along Skyline, drop through Skyline Ridge OSR, drop down to Portola Redwoods, through a couple others, along the top of Big Basin, and back up through Castle Rock SP via the Old Saratoga Toll Road, eventually back to Saratoga Gap. Part of the route is on the Skyline to the Sea Trail. S2S is another, abt 30 miles IIRC, but it is point to point, so requires a pick up arrangement. Then there is the Western States 100, which is 100 miles through the Sierra. But that is a run, not a hike, and has feeding stations set up.

Nice photos, by the way.

12:19 p.m. on May 28, 2013 (EDT)
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An interesting TR.

Was that a hike or a competition?  Was 47 miles in 2 days what you call fun? 

NSAIDS are very hard on the liver and kidneys.  There is a recommendation on the bottle for 2-3 every 24 hours.  I would suggest your reconsider taking 10 in a day.  It is like binge drinking and hard on your body.

1:34 p.m. on May 28, 2013 (EDT)
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ppine said:

An interesting TR.

Was that a hike or a competition?  Was 47 miles in 2 days what you call fun? 

 As posted above, at a brisk pace, I should have done it in 14 hours, so 2 days is actually very, very slow,

And yes, that is my fun, taking things nice and slow in the backcountry.

2:32 p.m. on May 28, 2013 (EDT)
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Great report! I also enjoy doing athletic trips from time to time; I like pushing my limits sometimes. That would be the top end mileage for me on a two day swing; my feet would hurt for sure. Thanks for showing this….

3:32 p.m. on May 28, 2013 (EDT)
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Patman said:

Great report! I also enjoy doing athletic trips from time to time; I like pushing my limits sometimes. That would be the top end mileage for me on a two day swing; my feet would hurt for sure. Thanks for showing this….

 Thank you-

I had a great time, and I just started to go really lightweight this year, so this was a good test of my setup.

9:35 p.m. on May 28, 2013 (EDT)
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Nice trip.

I know you guys had a poor snow year but it looks really bare at altitude to be May. Fire season may be bad......hopefully not.

 

 

Thanks for sharing......bee too long since I took in all that smooth sierra granite and blue skies.

11:05 p.m. on May 28, 2013 (EDT)
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That would be neat to fastpack most of that route.  I fastpack some, but only on the morning I pack out, whether a single night out, or multi-night like vacation.

I've worried about vitamin I, I get vertigo about a third to half the time on the first day of a multi-day bp trip.  Last June, after setting camp up, I got sick on a dayhike at about the furthest a friend and I got from camp.  Nothing like staggering for 2 hours and getting sick to the stomach half that distance and one small creek crossing.   Got back to camp, felt fine, ate dinner.  Go figure?  I have to remember to take some pills before I start, not 3 hours later.   Snacking too, munch more instead of one break before lunch and the days destination. 

Duane

1:02 a.m. on May 29, 2013 (EDT)
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cletus said:

Nice trip.

I know you guys had a poor snow year but it looks really bare at altitude to be May. Fire season may be bad......hopefully not.

 

 

Thanks for sharing......bee too long since I took in all that smooth sierra granite and blue skies.

 Your observations are correct.

The Ranger I spoke to said they were down 40% on snow/water volume from what is normal. I really got lucky this trip, snow was very minimal, and water crossings were uneventful.

5:01 a.m. on May 29, 2013 (EDT)
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So much to comment on here!

Well android you have again demonstrated you are a mountain goat!

I agree with Bill; you are not old, rather just barely over your peak, if that.  Nevertheless the time posted shows fine conditioning.  Bill and his 14 hour trip time – at his age – is just phycho!  Making a 14 hours circuit of this loop sound nominal by describing it an moderately brisk walk at 3 mph average speed is grossly misleading to the uninformed, as this loop includes covering lows at about 5,000’ to the high point at Glen Pass of almost 12,000’.  Do the math sports fans; 7,000’ in elevation change in 45 miles over 14 hours is a big hop at 500’/hr.  But if the physical challenge doesn’t question the sanity of such speed trekking, Bill’s comment that the area is too scenic for such rushing about is even more understated.  Indeed this route is my favorite scenic mid-length loop in the Sierra.  For whatever reason Andriod has omitted the best images along this trip.  And there are some really iconic ones, such as stunning Fin Dome on the west side of the Rae Lake basin and handsome Black Mountain on the opposite side of the valley.  A week isn’t too long for this loop, and provides time for side trips to infrequently visited and beautiful places like Sixty Lake Basin. 

I also got a giggle from John's (Lambertina) comment about how this was too much fun for him in two days.  Just try retracing one of the several XC trips Lambertina has posted on Trailspace and you will find this comment grossly understates his abilities.  Heck all three of these guys are crazy strong.

The canyon just below Paradise Valley provided me with one of the most spectacular natural events I have witnessed.  In 2002 I was doing a solo of this loop; I started from the east side, out of Onion Valley.  I was a few miles down steam from the aforementioned area when a rock avalanche released from one of the peaks on the west side of the canyon, and made its way down the chutes.  It was a stupendous slide, taking several minutes to run its course, filling the valley with thunder and a huge dust cloud visible for miles.  My destination that day was Paradise Valley.  Throughout the night you could hear Rumplestiltskin and gang bowling, as nature attempted to re-stabilize the terrain in the release area. This loop also contains a section of trail I shall always remember.  We were doing an early season south/north traverse of the Sierra in January 1985.  We ascended Glen Pass under poor conditions.  Both sides of the pass had slopes with deep, sketchy, snow packs, while the crest sported a large double cornice.  Spindrift snow pillows forced us to take technical routes around these hazards.  Under these conditions the pass consumed a whole day to get up and down.  The tension was almost as fatiguing as the climb itself.  If taken in late spring this section would be a brisk assault up, more like Android describes, followed by a great ski down to Rae Lakes for lunch.  Lesson learned; no early season ski trips in the Sierra backcountry.

Ed

9:28 a.m. on May 29, 2013 (EDT)
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Fantastic! 

As Ed and others have said most everything to be said, I will remain brief :) 

I am determined to get in much better physical condition, such that I could keep up with Patman, Lambertiana, and yourself. Presently though, 45 miles in two days makes me ache just thinking about it, Ha! 

You're light pack weight is inspiring, and further spurns me to lighten my kit. I'm not sure I'll ever convince myself it prudent to leave certain items necessary to weather and function in an unexpected storm at altitude, though.

Good stuff, Android, thanks for sharing. 

9:56 a.m. on May 29, 2013 (EDT)
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Great report and pics. No way i could push that hard anymore, but it's great you can get in a trip like this in such a short amount of time. You've given me some great ideas on lighting my load. Thanks for the detail on your set up.

9:33 p.m. on May 29, 2013 (EDT)
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I thought about the Rae Lakes Loop this weekend myself (I had 5 days including the best part of a day each to/from the park).  But I was concerned that there'd be snow on the north side of Glen Pass.  Your account & photos confirm that and reaffirmed my decision to go elsewhere.

I'll save the description of my trip for its own report rather than hijack yours :).

I'm curious, what reaction did you get from the rangers when you requested a wilderness permit for 2 days for the loop?  One ranger told me "it takes most people 5 days", which to me seems long, though 2 days seems extremely fast.

But these things are relative, and it all depends what we want to get out of it ...

11:02 p.m. on May 29, 2013 (EDT)
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Ed - You give me too much credit.  I have never done the Rae Lakes Loop as a single trip (but I have been over almost all of it as parts of other trips).  But if I did, I would want to take at least five days.  Too much to see and explore.  I'd even want to throw in a couple extra days to check out Sixty Lakes Basin and over into Gardiner Basin.  I don't like to do more than 15 miles in any given day so that I have time to relax and explore local geology at the end of the day.  I'm not fast enough on the trail any more to do 20+ miles each day and still have that time.

So when I see someone do this loop in two days, knowing exactly what it took with the vertical and distance, they have my respect.

11:17 p.m. on May 29, 2013 (EDT)
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The best I've done was around 21 miles a few years ago and I had to jog downhill the last couple miles to make sure I made the North Fork of the Feather River before dark. I made it there with plenty of time to spare.  That was maybe a 10 hour day of hiking.  I'd be hard pressed to do much more.

Duane

11:29 p.m. on May 29, 2013 (EDT)
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I did 17 miles one day this weekend.  That included going over a snow & rock side of an 11,600' pass and down the other side on a trail (just getting to the base, plus the ascent, took 2 hours on its own)  The 17 miles took me just under 11 hours including rest/snack/camera/bio stops & one stop to change shoes before/after a wet creek crossing.

I typically average about 2mph (moving) while backpacking.  My pack ranges from the low 30's to about 40 lbs (or up to high 40's with a 10-day food supply).

After seeing this thread, I checked my walking speed today on city sidewalks, carrying just a light day pack.  I seem to do about 3.5 mph if I'm rushing.  I would find it difficult to do that on a rocky/gravelly trail, and it's hard to imagine maintaining that speed going either up or down a high pass.

So those "fast pack" Rae Lakes Loop trips leave me scratching my head in wonderment.

5:03 a.m. on May 30, 2013 (EDT)
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Enjoyed the TR!

I've done some long days in my time, including some on the JMT through some of the same territory. To me the key is to use the whole day -- if you've got 16 daylight hours to cover 20-25 miles you only have to average 1.25 to 1.5 miles per hour over the whole day. If that's all you have to do you have time for a nap or swim after lunch! Get up at the crack of dawn, have a quick breakfast, and head out. On the JMT I would often eat supper at more or less the usual hour, but then pack up and keep on moving right through sunset, and just sleep out high up to get a good start on the next pass. I was also traveling pretty light for those days, no stove or tent (tarp), shortie blue foam pad, but I had a 3+ pound sleeping bag and I carried my old film SLR, some hefty binoculars and a bird field guide right through, so I was hardly UL. Fond memories!

11:45 p.m. on May 30, 2013 (EDT)
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whomeworry said:

So much to comment on here!

Well android you have again demonstrated you are a mountain goat!

I agree with Bill; you are not old, rather just barely over your peak, if that.  Nevertheless the time posted shows fine conditioning.  Bill and his 14 hour trip time – at his age – is just phycho!  Making a 14 hours circuit of this loop sound nominal by describing it an moderately brisk walk at 3 mph average speed is grossly misleading to the uninformed, as this loop includes covering lows at about 5,000’ to the high point at Glen Pass of almost 12,000’.  Do the math sports fans; 7,000’ in elevation change in 45 miles over 14 hours is a big hop at 500’/hr.  But if the physical challenge doesn’t question the sanity of such speed trekking, Bill’s comment that the area is too scenic for such rushing about is even more understated.  Indeed this route is my favorite scenic mid-length loop in the Sierra.  For whatever reason Andriod has omitted the best images along this trip.  And there are some really iconic ones, such as stunning Fin Dome on the west side of the Rae Lake basin and handsome Black Mountain on the opposite side of the valley.  A week isn’t too long for this loop, and provides time for side trips to infrequently visited and beautiful places like Sixty Lake Basin. 

I also got a giggle from John's (Lambertina) comment about how this was too much fun for him in two days.  Just try retracing one of the several XC trips Lambertina has posted on Trailspace and you will find this comment grossly understates his abilities.  Heck all three of these guys are crazy strong.

The canyon just below Paradise Valley provided me with one of the most spectacular natural events I have witnessed.  In 2002 I was doing a solo of this loop; I started from the east side, out of Onion Valley.  I was a few miles down steam from the aforementioned area when a rock avalanche released from one of the peaks on the west side of the canyon, and made its way down the chutes.  It was a stupendous slide, taking several minutes to run its course, filling the valley with thunder and a huge dust cloud visible for miles.  My destination that day was Paradise Valley.  Throughout the night you could hear Rumplestiltskin and gang bowling, as nature attempted to re-stabilize the terrain in the release area. This loop also contains a section of trail I shall always remember.  We were doing an early season south/north traverse of the Sierra in January 1985.  We ascended Glen Pass under poor conditions.  Both sides of the pass had slopes with deep, sketchy, snow packs, while the crest sported a large double cornice.  Spindrift snow pillows forced us to take technical routes around these hazards.  Under these conditions the pass consumed a whole day to get up and down.  The tension was almost as fatiguing as the climb itself.  If taken in late spring this section would be a brisk assault up, more like Android describes, followed by a great ski down to Rae Lakes for lunch.  Lesson learned; no early season ski trips in the Sierra backcountry.

Ed

 Awesome! (especially the avalanche experience) It was a post you made years ago that changed my attitude towards the water in the upper Sierra- You said you just drank it straight from the source......................don't try this at home, and I should not be an example,  but I have been chugging that great stuff for 3 years now with no ill effects. I figured you had a lot more experience in that department and just went for it. Saves me some weight on treatment gear too.

9:41 a.m. on May 31, 2013 (EDT)
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android said:

..a post you made years ago that changed my attitude towards the water in the upper Sierra- You said you just drank it straight from the source...

For the sake of completeness, the full remark also stated I rarely use a filter, but that is because I camp in locations with light use (even on most busy trails there are camping options with low use), get my water as close as possible to the source where it seeps from the earth, and choose water sources with no trail crossing above.  There are web sites that publish the water quality surveys conducted by various government and universities, for example this research, regarding back country water sources.  The vast majority of back country Sierra water sources have water quality superior to urban tap water.  For example the San Francisco municipal water supply has a higher giordia count than most Sierra water sources.  The eastern US, however, has more suspect water sources for a variety of reasons, so one should always do a little research on their intended water source before they head out without a filter or other water quality technology. 

One learns from reading the various studies that water quality has several influencing factors: Heavy stock activity or heavy human activity can adversely impact water quality.  Early season water quality is higher than later season water quality in areas where winter freeze occurs.  And of course water down stream of mining, agricultural and industrial activity is always suspect, as is stagnant or warm or slow moving water sources.

Ed

11:52 a.m. on May 31, 2013 (EDT)
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Yep, with careful choice of water sources in the sierra high country, it's pretty good stuff.  I haven't used a filter in years.

The high lakes are exposed to a lot of UV, so they are in essence being treated with a steripen every day.  In fact, that is the technology being used in some third world countries to disinfect drinking water from questionable sources (look up SODIS).

9:51 p.m. on May 31, 2013 (EDT)
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Hmmm ... I see in this and a couple other threads elsewhere in Trailspace that some of my comments are being taken out of context (mea culpa - I didn't really provide the context). To add a little clarification:

I said, "A few years back, I hiked ..." The term "few" is relative. As I have proven experimentally, using the theory of relativity, Time is accelerating. That is, when you are a 1 year old, a month of your life is 8% of your life. When you reach 10 yo, a year is 10% of your life. At 50 yo, a year is only 2% of your life. It keeps accelerating from there ("Things pick up when you are over the hill."). So from the perspective of an OGBO septuagenarian, "a few years" is probably 10 or 15 years ago. Add to that the fact that gravity is increasing with the progression of time. One of the effects of this increase in gravity is that the Earth's gravity is pulling the bases of the mountains down, hence increasing the steepness of the slopes (the peaks, being farther from the center of the Earth, feel less gravitational effect, hence are not pulled down as much). And the same pack load is more and more rapidly increasing its weight.

I also stated that, during the 3 to 4 mph average speeds of "a few years ago", it was not necessary to carry a full pack, and the Sierra had reliable water sources. Familiarity with the area reduces the need to stop frequently and study the map to determine how far the next fork in the trail is and which way to turn. The rule of thumb is that each 10% of your body weight in the pack reduces your speed by 10% (unless you are Norman Clyde, who carried his body weight in books in his pack throughout the Sierra). Also, 1000 ft of altitude gain requires the same amount of time hiking as 2 miles of trail.

One mathematical error on Ed's part - a loop hike has an altitude gain equal to the altitude descent (what goes up must come down). Thus, 7000 ft of gain in a 14 hour loop requires going uphill for about 7 hours plus descending for about 7 hours. Hence, the average climb rate is 1000 ft/hour, not 500. However, it has been proven conclusively (including my own observations) that on any loop or out-and-back hike (or bike ride), there are more uphills than downhills. There are also more headwinds than tailwinds. This is easily proven mathematically (left as an exercise for the reader). I first did the mathematical proof shortly after I started flying my own plane.

Normally, I do hikes and climbs at much less than 3 mph, simply because I want to maximize my time in the woods and hills. I usually spend lots of time taking photos. The Day Hikers treks are training hikes to develop and sustain endurance and strength. By pushing hard on the 3 or 4 long loops a year, makes the monthly real outings seem very easy and relaxing. I do one hike a month usually in our local parks with a pack loaded with several gallons of water (for weight) on trails that continuously climb to one of the SFBay Area peaks. At the summit, I refill the water bottles of the usual crowd who forgot that 5 miles and 2500 ft of gain requires a lot of water, then dump the rest (easier on the knees on the way down). This also makes the high mountain climbs much easier.

Oh, yeah, one more thing about relativity - since Time is accelerating, ya gotta get out there more and more frequently just to slow down the deterioration that comes with added years.

8:00 p.m. on June 3, 2013 (EDT)
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Gee Bill, thanks for the education.  I thought age was the reason hiking seemed to get tougher, but that space/time/gravity thing – well that answers most of my questions.  But then there is the quandary of why the pan sized trout caught on a trip twenty years ago grow to eighteen inchers as the story is retold over the years; as well as why the thimble size mosquitoes grow into winged pit bulls when described decades later.  Are these too also the result of gravity dilating time and space?  Even more mysterious is the phenomena circumstantial to why the pack I carried when twenty years old, loaded with army surplus wool and other heavy items was still somehow less heavy than the kit I shoulder today of down and high tech materials?  Or is this perception, too, the result of acceleration and its affect on mass?  That still leaves one question: why do thoughts seem to slow with age.  One’s own thoughts should be immune from acceleration, since they travel with us and this reference point remains in a relative stable state.

BTW: the vertical gain/hour calc error you cite was a indeed a simplistic misstatement; nevertheless your clarification serves to underscore my point:  the pace you described requires considerable athletic ability, regardless of age.

Ed

3:04 p.m. on June 5, 2013 (EDT)
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you guys are just too hardcore for me. I am way too out of shape to even attempt a trip like that. good trip report!

April 20, 2014
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