The Riveting Rae Lakes
(11/21/07) Driving down into Kings Canyon was a trip in itself with jaw-dropping views of the canyon, mountains, and valley... one of the few places that you can look up and down and sideways. By the time we reached the permit office, there was already a line of folks waiting to grab our coveted Labor Day Weekend Rae Lakes Loop permit due to no-show. I'm glad I called in ahead of time to let them know we would be a little late; otherwise our weekend would have been dramatically different.
The ranger turned away Andy's Ursack bear canister. "Apparently" only the newer model was approved. So we had to rent one from them. As we started our hike, it started to sprinkle slightly, which pretty much set the tone for the rest of the trip. Fortunately it was only light sporadic sprinkles throughout the weekend and our timing going through exposed mountain passes was ideal. I've got caught in a lightening storm in an exposed pass before -- not fun.
Our first stop was at the pretty Mist Falls. Shortly before we reached Mist Falls, we spotted a teenage bear. We then climbed on to Paradise Valley where we had the choice of camping out at the lower, middle, or upper campgrounds. We decided to push on to the furthest upper campground to cut mileage off the next day's long haul, with the agreement that we would be able to start the morning off an hour later. We lucked out on a great big isolated cool campsite at the end of the campground next to a footbridge.
The next morning we started our trek over to Rae Lakes. One of the highlights of the day was walking on this footbridge made of planks and wire, that swung in the wind and each foot step. It reminded me of one of those precarious jungle footbridges in the movies that spanned over a mile high canyon. We stopped at one of the first lakes for lunch and cooled off in the cold lake. How cold was it? The look on Jeff's face getting in was price-less.
We continued on to our campsite to one of Rae Lakes most popular spots. There certainly we're quite a few folks there. We quickly set up camp after searching for a good campsite. It was definitely time though for a splash in the lakes. We all cooled off in the lakes for a while, a quick super model photo shoot, and afterwards I took off to go fishing. I guess it was not a great time to go fishing because I was very unlucky. Not a single bite. But of course, well after dinner, we all witnessed the fish feeding.
After dinner and lots of fun evening conversation, we turned off our headlamps and gazed up at the stars. It was quite the star show. The last time I remember star gazing as a group was almost two years ago on Villager Peak.
The next morning was one of the best parts of the trip. Andy coordinated an amazing blueberry pancake breakfast, with a wonderful scramble flavored with delicious herbs and sausage. We actually carried the eggs up in a egg carrying case. Fortunately, we only lost only a few of them in the trek up to Rae Lakes. Yummy, what a treat!
It's a good thing we had a great breakfast to start the day, because we had quite the strenuous trek up to Glen Pass. Yup, they named the pass after me. And I wouldn't let anyone pass, until they paid their dues. It was invigorating at the pass. The air was crisp and the views we're phenomenal. The views coming down from Glen Pass we're probably the best out of the whole trip. Everyone was spaced so far apart though. I was a little bummed that I was not able to get pictures of them in this section and experience it together. Jeff found a great spot in the midst of the falls for us to cool off and reinvigorate, which was one of my favorite moments in the trip.
Later that afternoon, we had everyone take a break while Andy and I ran off to look for a campsite. It turned out to be a good mile away. We returned and had everyone follow us to our last night's stay. Andy and I we're so wiped from our side-scout, that we took a little nap before dinner. The last night is always the toughest, kind of last call for campfire talks. I didn't want it to end.
The last day we began our final descent back to Road's End. We got back down to the trailhead in likity-split time and then headed up to the Grant Grove Village for some chow. The Jalapeno "Cakes" there sounded very curious, so we decided to order them for appetizers... all I'll say is that you don't necessarily have to go beyond the wilderness boundary to find adventure.