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Rae Lakes Loop in a day.
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Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Rae Lakes Loop in a day. on 04/08/2009 12:41:40 MDT Print View

Howdy all,
I'm tossing around the idea of trying the loop in a day this summer and have a few questions.
A little background: I'm very familiar with Kearsarge Pass, Kearsarge Lakes, Charlotte Lake, Glen Pass/Rae lakes, but haven't been deeper into the loop (off the JMT or past Charlotte).
So I'm thinking and wondering:
1. I'd spend the first night at Kearsarge Lakes/Charlotte Lake to acclimate/set base camp. Spend second day/night running, third day/night day resting at base, exit day four.
2. Going in a clockwise loop starting at Charlotte lake. Is this direction good for going fast or would I be better counterclockwise?
3. I'd certainly run/walk it with a SUL overnight setup in the event I bonk. I need to work out what I'd carry- the core of it probably being a light hydration/adventure racing pack with a 6oz. tarp, insulated jacket, driducks suit, and heat sheet/lightweight bivy. I definitely want to keep it at a few pounds, tops.
4. Permitting: I assume I'd only need an enter/exit permit for Kearsarge Pass?

Any tips/ideas from folks that have done it would be appreciated (especially those that have done it in a day).

Raymond Estrella
(rayestrella) - MLife

Locale: Northern Minnesota
Rae Lakes Loop in a day on 04/08/2009 14:31:06 MDT Print View

Hi Craig,

Wow! That is an undertaking. You will be going about 42 miles with 7300 ft of gain. Big day.

I did the entire loop in 2004 counter-clockwise and have hit pieces of it again four times since then. To me it is easier going clock-wise like you suggest as the gain seems to be less noticeable than trudging up Bubb’s Creek towards Glen Pass. You probably know that Glen keeps snow into summer. Be careful.

Your itinerary has you coming in from the east side. And either direction is going to have you climbing at the end of the day. Have you thought of starting at Road’s End? You could get a day permit doing that. It would add almost four miles to the distance though. And you would not get as much acclimatizing benefit. (And maybe you live in Bishop, right?)

Let us know how it turns out. When I did the loop I was just starting to change my hiking style and doing it in just over two days creamed me. Since then I have done a 42 miler once and lots of 30+s, but no running involved. It makes my knees cringe just thinking about it. But to tell the truth just a good steady hiking pace should see you making it in the daylight hours if you are going in summer.

Good luck,

David T
(DaveT) - F
. on 04/08/2009 21:42:55 MDT Print View


Edited by DaveT on 05/17/2015 21:20:33 MDT.

Christopher Mills
(Hiker816) - MLife

Locale: Denver
Rae Lakes Loop in a Day / GG Lightrek Poles / Nathan Packs on 08/04/2009 17:33:45 MDT Print View

This thread is a few months old, but I figured I'd revive it as I just finished the Rae Lakes Loop in a day this last Saturday. 16 hours 21 minutes starting and ending at Roads End. Not super fast, but the trail was a lot less conducive to running than I had remembered, so I'm happy with that given that I couldn't safely run much of it.

I did it counter-clockwise with the intent of getting the steepest part out of the way quickly, and having a long more gradual downhill on which I could do some running after Glen Pass. I think this was the right move. I got a little bogged down on the last part of the climb up to Glen Pass, and then felt sluggish while passing Rae Lakes down to Dollar lake (which otherwise would be pretty good running terrain), but recovered pretty well after that and was able to hike very quickly, and run where the trail was smooth enough to allow it.

Craig, if you haven't done this already, I'd say that you probably don't need to worry about bonking and needing to stay out overnight. Based on your other posts, I get the impression you do a lot more training than I did, and I managed fine. In fact, while I was ready for it to be finished by the end, I felt fine and could have continued farther if I had to.

On gear --

I agonized for a while about whether or not to bring poles because I had no convenient way to affix them to my pack during what I anticipated would be the significant amount of running. I have the Gossamer Gear Lightrek 4 w/ straps, and ultimately decided to take them and just carry them during the running portions if they wouldn't stay still on my pack. I'm glad I did since the trail turned out more rocky than I remember. I have to say, these poles are amazing. They were rock solid and the straps were super-comfy used nordic style (I have no idea how those of you that don't use straps do so comfortably, but that's another post). Having them to navigate, and launch myself over, rocks made me MUCH faster. I was able to quickly lower myself down steps and stuff with a lot less strain on my feet, knees, and hips, and with a lot more speed because I didn't have to be as careful about how I was landing. And the poles were so light that I could just tilt them up (without even removing my hands from the grips) and run with them when the terrain allowed it. Even on the longer running stretches, it never got uncomfortable doing this. The poles are just phenomenal.

I used a Nathan HPL #020 Race Vest as my pack. It's the best pack I've ever used for running because it moves with you instead of against you. It's supremely comfortable. Unfortunately, this model didn't have enough capacity for the extras I needed in addition to water (i.e. food, windjacket, water treatment, sunblock, first aid kit, and a rented satellite phone that my wife made me take). I had to have a tailor sew some attachment points on and strap an additional zippered pouch to it. This worked well once everything was cinched down, but it was a very annoying and time consuming process to get anything out of that pouch because I'd have to undo the straps, then repack it when I was done, and spend a while strapping it back on, taking care to keep the weight distribution right so it wouldn't swing around or slip loose. Annoying. If I were doing it again, I'd get their Synergy 3.0 pack for the extra capacity.

I used a steripen for water treatment and it worked flawlessly. It was reasonably fast, and it was nice not to have to wait for chemicals to work.

I also used Symblissity LevaGaiters which were perfect. My favorite gaiter by far.

Shoes are so individualistic that this might not be useful for anyone, but I used the La Sportiva Wildcat (I have orthotics that I put inside). They worked very well. I got no blisters, which is amazing because I ALWAYS get horrible blisters. I did manage to bang the toenail on my left foot big toe a few too many times, though, and will probably lose that nail. I don't think that had anything to do with the shoes, though (didn't happen on the other foot). And that was my only casualty other than a little bit of muscle soreness.

I used drymax trail running socks. I've tried A LOT of different kinds of socks, and these are the best I've found by a good margin.

For food, I used Infinit & Hammer Perpetuem powdered drink mixes. They worked great. I also took a half a turkey bagel sandwich with cheese, which tasted awesome just after Glen Pass. I ate a few clif bars, too. I ended up taking too much food. I didn't eat/drink a bunch of the drink mix or a dehydrated refried bean & quinoa flake concoction I brought along. I just never felt all that hungry. Thankfully, I never had any stomach problems.

I think that's about it. Hopefully it's helpful to someone.

Edited by Hiker816 on 08/04/2009 17:35:46 MDT.

Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: Rae Lakes Loop in a Day / GG Lightrek Poles / Nathan Packs on 08/05/2009 01:03:30 MDT Print View

Hey Chris,
Good job. That trip report sounds just like mine, same pack food and what not.
I know the feeling coming from 0 feet elevation to almost 12K. You think, OMG, I can't wait to get over Glen and feel better going down to Rea Lakes.
Nope, doesn't happen.
Plus I'm usualy so tired from not getting any sleep that my head is just spinning going over Glen.

Isn't it wierd seeing people with huge packs that do it in 4+ days and when they said where they stayed the night before and it's already in the afternoon and you are thinking, oh, I was just by there about 1 1/2 hour ago.
I get the strangest looks from that loop than anywhere else in the Sierras.

Edited by awsorensen on 08/05/2009 01:05:38 MDT.

(HighAltitude) - F
rae lakes loop on 09/17/2009 17:40:43 MDT Print View

that is impressive.

One of my first backpacking trips was rae lakes. I did it counter clockwise.

1.5 there, 1 day back and I was trashed. Of course I was carrying a pretty big pack since I hadn't realized taking less gear was better.

A nice loop in a day would be the maroon bells here in CO.

About 27-29 miles, 7500 vertical feet, 4 passes all over 12,000'.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: rae lakes loop on 09/17/2009 17:53:34 MDT Print View

The 4 Passes Loop is done every year by a group out of Aspen,
and, I'm sure, many others.

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Rae Lakes Loop on 09/17/2009 18:43:41 MDT Print View

We were going over Glen Pass on Friday, August 28 and saw someone that was doing the loop in a day. Didn't get his name. We were heading south, he was coming down Glen heading North. I think he said the loop was 45 miles. He looked a bit looped.

Christopher Mills
(Hiker816) - MLife

Locale: Denver
Re: Rae Lakes Loop on 09/17/2009 20:41:54 MDT Print View

"We were going over Glen Pass on Friday, August 28 and saw someone that was doing the loop in a day."

I wonder if it was Craig? He mentioned to me that he was thinking of doing it in late August or September.

Edited by Hiker816 on 09/17/2009 20:42:33 MDT.

Leor Pantilat
(pantilat) - F

Locale: Bay Area
FKT for Rae Lakes Loop? on 09/29/2009 16:05:42 MDT Print View

Anybody know of any fast times for this loop (C2C out of Road's End)? I'm trying to determine what is the FKT for it.


Laurence Beck
(beckla) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Even without a pack... on 09/30/2009 19:40:37 MDT Print View

I could not do the Rae Lakes Loop in a day even if I had a sherpa carrying my pack for me.