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Help On A Long Decision
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Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Help On A Long Decision on 05/19/2010 18:50:00 MDT Print View

I am turning 46 at the end of the motnth. I have been kicking around the idea of doing the Rae Lakes Loop as a birthday present to myself. The problem is, I have never done an overnight hike by myself. Before any of you ask, why don't you just do an overnight by yourself to see if you like it. I would rather jump in headfirst and go for it. That is my way of doing thing. I am a seasoned Sierra backpacker that loves hiking by myself for day hikes. I have done many Sierra hikes that were multi day hikes and have tons of experience. I want to experience this one way or the other. Please all, give me advice. Be it negative or postivie. I am curious, and I will want to do this until I actually do it. The only fear I have, is sitting around at a camp for 4 hours with nothing to do....beyone that....I love the mountains!

John Whynot

Locale: Southeast Texas
Re: Help On A Long Decision on 05/19/2010 19:21:05 MDT Print View

I've done nothing but solo hikes for the last 3 years. I try to hike until just before dark, that way you don't hours of time in camp. You can also pick an area to camp with great scenery, or fishing. I'll also bring a book to read -- something that's challenging, not a quick read. Last, but not least, there may be other hikers to chat with...

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Help On A Long Decision on 05/19/2010 19:24:18 MDT Print View

"I would rather jump in headfirst and go for it."

I would just heed that impulse, Ken, if I were you. Hiking solo is a very different experience from group outings in that it will allow you to bring your own senses and judgment more into play, without the necessity to consider the needs, opinions, limitations, etc, of others. You already have the necessary skills and judgment; this is a golden opportunity to put them to use. Besides, you won't really be that alone on a Rae Lakes Loop. As for nothing to do for 4 hours in camp, hike around and explore the area. 60 Lakes Basin would be a nice 4 hour hike from a Rae Lakes area campsite. In general, if I have time after setting camp, I always hike around and explore as much of the surroundings as time, daylight, and energy allow and usually find the experience very rewarding. I hope you follow through with this.


Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Help On A Long Decision on 05/19/2010 19:44:45 MDT Print View

Hi Ken,

I also had never done a solo overnighter until a couple of weeks ago. I decided I wanted to do the Susquehannock Trail in PA - 85 miles - and no one could get the time off when I wanted to do it. So I took the time off and did it myself. I was a little anxious the first night, especially when the bobcat showed up prowling around the camp. But I shooed him off, knew that really I had little to nothing to worry about, and had a great time.

So go forth! You'll have a great time. And as Tom said, it was nice to immerse myself in my hike without having to take anyone else into account. FWIW.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Help On A Long Decision on 05/19/2010 20:06:50 MDT Print View

Two issues here:
* Going solo - very much an individual thing.
* 'sitting around at a camp for 4 hours with nothing to do' HUH??? Just walk further! By the time I get the tent up and dinner cooked it is dark and I am half-asleep. Sue usually is already asleep.


Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Help On A Long Decision on 05/19/2010 22:24:01 MDT Print View

Well Ken, I have the opposite situation...

In two weeks I will be going on a 3-day trip with two or three other people. I have never done that, and I started backpacking in the 1960s. I am sure both of us will do just fine.

Like Roger said, just hike longer. And enjoy the solitude. I find that I am usually wonderful company on my trips!!

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Re: Help On A Long Decision on 05/20/2010 07:57:12 MDT Print View

Thanks for your responses and sorry about my spelling errors! I really feel this would be a fun thing for me to do. I have done The Rae Lakes Loop with a couple of others about 10 years ago so I am familiar with the terrain, and yes it is a pretty popular hike so there will be people on the trail too. I just need to convince the wife that it is safe for me to do so.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Help On A Long Decision on 05/20/2010 08:20:07 MDT Print View

Especially if I had a family, I'd take a McMurdo FastFind 210 PLB along. It weighs 5.4 oz.

Edited by jshann on 05/20/2010 08:21:08 MDT.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Help On A Long Decision on 05/20/2010 08:39:21 MDT Print View

Don't worry Nick! Our trip will be Epic.

I'll make sure to bring a never ending supply of ultra-left-anarchist politics, plenty of religious debate, all of my data on global warming, and ample advice on how your gear and diet could be better. You're going to love all the tattoos I got in prison.
These days I'm mellowing out though...I enjoy staying up until 3AM learning to play my banjo while stoned (I guess I didn't mention I'd be bringing it?) and typically sleep until ~11-ish.

I'm gonna make sure your first trip with people in decades is great!

Ken- Go! You already know you have to.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Go for it. on 05/20/2010 09:09:50 MDT Print View

Tomorrow morning I will be doing the Rae Lakes Loop. This looks to be a pretty straight-forward trip with the only "exciting" part being Glen Pass, depending on when you go. I suspect that you won't be as "alone" as you think. This loop is one of the most popular in the Sierra and you will likely meet people to "occupy your time" Also, if you can't sit next to Rae Lake and relax then you can't chill out. Or as an alternative, do some exploring, you don't need a trail. If you get to where you want to camp early then set up camp and climb a dome or hill and get a better view. Or hike from sunup to sunset like I do and then collapse from exhaustion. But whatever you do, just do it. And get your permit early, it's a popular route.

Edited by gg-man on 05/20/2010 09:11:10 MDT.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Help On A Long Decision on 05/20/2010 13:00:00 MDT Print View

Should be an interesting trip.... :)

"ultra-left-anarchist politics, plenty of religious debate, all of my data on global warming"

and me being an ultra-conservative Randian Objectivist, who is comfortable in a corporate board room wearing an Armani suit...

Backpacking, the great equalizer.

Can't wait for the trip.

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Help On A Long Decision on 05/20/2010 15:05:01 MDT Print View


Happy Bday!

Great way to celebrate.

I have only done one "baby" solo hike at Big Basin with lots of people around and always close to a road in case things went wrong.

Really enjoyed having the time by myself on the trail to get lost in you, I would go nuts with too much free time by myself in camp.

So hike longer, but don't kill yourself by getting too tired and twisting an ankle due to mental fatigue.

I found that hiking solo, my pace really increased...madman for miles I guess.

That said, with limited experience, I would suggest planning out your trip more so in that you let your wife know where you expect to be on what days and plan escape routes along the trail in the event you are injuried...or designated spots inbetween way points that you might shoot for staying on the planned route in case you are hurt and need to hole up and wait for rescue.

Never hurts to be over planned for the worst.

Happy Bday and safe trip.


Ryan Teale
(monstertruck) - F

Locale: Almost Yosemite
Help On A Long Decision on 05/23/2010 02:15:34 MDT Print View

My first solo trip was the John Muir Trail last summer! My girlfriend accompanied me from Happy Isles to Tuolumne Meadows. I put her on the bus at the general store and then walked back to the backpacker camp in the rain. As I packed up I was a little anxious but found it exhilarating as I finally set off up Lyell Canyon.

I had never seen the areas I would be hiking through and had my head on a swivel for a while. That first night I definitely kept hiking with the hope of camping within sight of someone else. I also wanted to get above treeline as the forest just seemed more creepy to me.

The longest I went without seeing anybody was probably about 3 hours during 16 days of hiking. Later in the trip I ended up hiking with another guy for about 4 days and looking back I actually wish I had kept to myself. Backpacking solo is a unique experience that is very hard to replicate.


Edited by monstertruck on 05/23/2010 02:20:16 MDT.

Nia Schmald
(nschmald) - MLife
Re: Help On A Long Decision on 05/23/2010 03:12:52 MDT Print View

Bring a fishing pole. All the lakes near Rae are teaming with brook trout. A great way to pass a few hours. Also recommend a side trip into the 60 lakes basin. Beautiful area.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Re: Help On A Long Decision on 05/23/2010 09:34:12 MDT Print View

Tony thanks for the Birthday wishes and your wisdom. Ryan, that is exactly what I will be thinking and how I think things will play out. Nia, Rae Lakes is a great fishing area from what I have heard of. Unfortunately, I don't fish. 60 Lakes Basin? Ohhh yeah. I did this loop 10 years ago, and I have always wanted to spend a night in that basin. I hear it is awesome!!!!

My itenrary would be like this:

Day 1-Roads End to Upper Paradise Valley or Woods Crk Crossing
Day 2-Above to Rae Lakes
Day 3-Lower Vidette or Junction Meadow
Day 4-Hike out

Does that makes sense? I have seen two different mileage counts for this hike

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Help On A Long Decision on 05/23/2010 09:46:38 MDT Print View

Your 4-day itinerary looks OK. I did this same plan last August.

Getting from Roads End to Woods Crossing will wear you out unless you keep your pack weight down.

I've seen bighorn sheep here twice now, in exactly the same spot.


Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Re: Re: Re: Help On A Long Decision on 05/23/2010 10:39:09 MDT Print View

Thanks Bob, yeah I know getting to Woods Crk Crossing makes for a long day. It is such a nice place to camp at that I really want to make it there. It is such a beauftiful area. Big Horn Sheep???? In that area???? Now that is cool. Thought it would be more towards Glen Pass that you would be seeing them. Nice!

I think my pack weight skin out will be around 25 lbs. max. Last time I did this hike I had a 7000 cubic inch Gregory Denali, a two person North Face tent that weighed 10 lbs., my WM Apache that weighs in at 3 lbs which is my snowcamping bag.....A beautiful trip, but the agony of the weight!

Edited by kennyhel77 on 05/23/2010 10:41:55 MDT.