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Rae Lakes 2011
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Jennifer McFarlane
(JennyMcFarlane) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Rae Lakes 2011 on 07/07/2011 20:15:49 MDT Print View

Thought I would start a new thread for this year- anyone back from a trip to the Rae Lakes area over the holiday weekend?
We leave on the 25th- a little over two weeks from now and I'm wondering if anyone has an update on snow levels, water crossings, etc.

Chuck Cheese
(defrag4) - F
rae lakes on 07/09/2011 23:18:44 MDT Print View

Just got back from Rae Lakes Thursday night, got about 900 pics to sort through before I post up my report.

We made it all the way through the loop, water is HIGH and fast, snow hiking starts around dollar lake, clears up for most of Rae Lakes, then its straight snow hiking up and over the pass. It was passable but pretty rough, I imagine the snow is going to turn to slush soon which will make passage even tougher. Trip was EPIC though, highly recommend you giving it a shot

Should have a full report up here in a couple days

Edited by defrag4 on 07/10/2011 00:00:59 MDT.

Robert Chavez
(robert@detour) - F
Rae Lakes River crossings on 07/11/2011 01:49:17 MDT Print View

Hi James,
I was curious as how the river crossings were. What was the depth of the rivers and was the flow pretty strong? Thanks,


Chuck Cheese
(defrag4) - F
re rivers on 07/11/2011 14:57:28 MDT Print View

crossing at Baxter creek, about knee deep and very fast

found this youtube vid as well from 7-2-11

not sure the name of this crossing, its before you head up to Dollar Lake, not fast but a little over waist deep for me at 5'9

sketchy log crossing headed up to Glenn Pass out of Rae Lakes, too deep for regular crossing

Charlotte Creek

Snow pack headed up Glen Pass

Edited by defrag4 on 07/11/2011 14:58:49 MDT.

Rob Vandiver

Locale: So Cal
Re: Rae Lakes 2011 on 07/11/2011 19:35:38 MDT Print View

Just got back about 4am this morning.

First off, great trip, enjoyed every minute of it.

Day One (7/8/11) - Roads End to Castle Dome Meadows - 13.7 mi.
Normal trail conditions, just add water for the most part. The trail is boggy in many areas. Short of Upper Paradise the trail gets obliterated by downed trees, but route finding is not difficult, and pretty fun. The trail continues to be difficult to follow due to downed trees for a while past Upper. The amount of destruction is pretty amazing.
We crossed Baxter Creek in the late afternoon, and found it to be unremarkable; thigh high and not powerful at all. Castle Dome Meadows is full of flowers, and also full of early morning dew. We lost some time drying our gear the next morning from it, and condensation inside our bivys.

Day Two - Castle Dome Meadows to Lower Rae Lake - 7.8 mi.
Besides the usual amazing views and unusual amount of waterfalls, this stretch was unremarkable. The first snow field crossing is between the 10k foot sign and Dollar Lake, and besides being sun cupped, is easy traveling. The lakes are mostly ice free at this point, with a few chunks floating in Thousand Island Lake. The mountains around the lakes are beautiful right now, as I am sure you have seen.

Day Three - Lower Rae Lake to Roads End - 19.9 mi.
The climb from the lakes to the base of the pass was a little confusing to us. There were very few climbers coming over the pass, and even fewer going southbound. For gear we had poles and ice axes, but no crampons, and I had left my microspikes in the car since no one else had any. The snow was sun cupped to hell, and the visible heavily used path ended up coming from a steep glissade from nobos. I climbed up about halfway, another almost all the way, before deciding it was too hairy and sliding down. We crossed the snow field and ascended a chute along the north east side, and it became obvious that this was the route taken by those going south. It did involve some climbing on loose scree, but was pretty easy and fun. We approached the base of the pass and watched two PCTers make their decent - the only people we would see until Charlotte Lake. We talked about the conditions, I told them about the glissade, and we said goodbye. The switchbacks up to the pass are clear for maybe 1/4 mile, but we had to climb to a point where we could get to them, so we split up and those that were more comfortable rock hopping did so, and the other went straight up the snow next to a glissade. The snow crossing was a little sketchy for a couple of us as we didnt have a lot of experience in those conditions. It is exposed, and the snow was very soft - soft enough that the axes and poles would sink all the way in and give little support much of the time. We took our time, carving out and kicking in steps, and eventually made it to the top. It was awesome, and although for much of it I was completely freaked out, it was also really really fun. The decent to the Charlotte Lake Trail crossing was easy, and while snow often covered the trail, it was easy to follow. The sandy wash where the trails cross is a small lake, deep enough that the sign is not showing. The switchbacks to Vidette Meadows are clear and easy, as is most of the rest of the trip. The trail maintenance crews have been working hard, as there was a lot of evidence that they had been clearing a lot of downed trees from the trail. The rest of the trip was largely uneventful, and the conditions easy.

Wildlife - 2 Rattlers (below Lower Paradise and below Sphinx Junction) 3 Deer, 2 marmots, 1 Bear (Between Junction Meadow and Charlotte Creek)

People - hardly any. There was one group in middle and one in upper Paradise, and we ran into a handful of thru hikers once on the JMT, but for the most part it was very peaceful - fantastic.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Rae Lakes 2011 on 07/11/2011 22:47:14 MDT Print View

Rob, on Day One, you reported crossing Baxter Creek near Castle Dome Meadows. No, that would have been Woods Creek. Baxter Creek would have been on Day Two between Woods Crossing and Dollar Lake.


Edited by --B.G.-- on 07/11/2011 22:47:51 MDT.

Rob Vandiver

Locale: So Cal
Re: Re: Re: Rae Lakes 2011 on 07/12/2011 08:03:12 MDT Print View

Yep, you're right Bob. I didn't look at my map, and I thought a ranger indicated that it was Baxter Creek. The crossing I was speaking of is shown on my map, but is an un-named tributary. Wierd, I dont remember crossing Baxter at all then. It must not have been bad. :P

Edit: After flipping through my pics, I did find several of what must be Baxter. It was swift in places, but not a bad crossing.

Edited by ShortBus on 07/12/2011 08:46:06 MDT.

Rob Vandiver

Locale: So Cal
Rae Lakes 2011 Pics on 07/12/2011 23:35:47 MDT Print View

Rae Lakes Loop Pics on Flickr. I don't think a full write up is really necessary as I think that James is working on one and we were there within a week of one another. But if someone is curious about what it looks like up there, here you go!

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Rae Lakes 2011 Pics on 07/12/2011 23:45:07 MDT Print View

What's up Rob, nice pics. Jealous, looks like I'm not getting into the Sierra this summer.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Rae Lakes 2011 Pics on 07/13/2011 00:21:02 MDT Print View

That certainly answers the question: Is there any snow left up there?


Brian Micheletti
(michelettib) - F
Mosquitoes on 07/13/2011 08:58:46 MDT Print View

Rob, your trip looked awesome. My wife and I are heading up there this weekend and I wanted to know if Deet was needed? I figure with the snow and high water the mosquitoes are going to be in full force this summer but wasn't sure if they were out in force yet. Thanks for any help you might be able to provide!

Rob Vandiver

Locale: So Cal
Re: Rae Lakes 2011 on 07/13/2011 09:21:51 MDT Print View

@Craig, it was incredible. Much more of an adventure than the first time I did it.

@Brian, the mosquitoes weren't out in full force yet when we went. I have a feeling that will change any day though. I used permethrin and sprayed lemon eucalyptus on exposed areas when we were stopped in a buggy place (lower elevations only, in boggy areas), and that was enough to keep them at bay. If you use DEET I would definitely have some handy, they will be blooming any time I think.

daniel B
(dbogey) - F - M

Locale: East Coast
Re: Rae Lakes 2011 Pics on 07/13/2011 11:09:14 MDT Print View

out of curiosity, how cold is this water trying to plan a trip out west (I'm from Pittsburgh) and don't know where to go to as of yet. Great Pics

Rob Vandiver

Locale: So Cal
Re: Rae Lakes 2011 Pics on 07/13/2011 12:15:56 MDT Print View

I dont know exactly except to say that it felt good to stick your feet in for about 10 seconds and then it began to sting. If you plan your trip a little later when most of the snow melt is done, Woods Creek and the Lakes are warm enough to swim in.

Edited by ShortBus on 07/13/2011 12:16:42 MDT.

christopher smead
(hamsterfish) - MLife

Locale: hamsterfish
Rae lakes updates ? on 08/18/2011 16:59:26 MDT Print View

I'm starting the loop on Aug 27th. Does anyone have a very recent update on the stream crossings, mosquitos, and day/night temps?
I know all these things can change on the fly, but I figure any info is better than none. :)

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Rae lakes updates ? on 08/18/2011 19:39:03 MDT Print View

Christopher, I think your crossings should be fine.

David Lutz

Locale: Bay Area
"Rae Lakes 2011" on 08/18/2011 23:09:19 MDT Print View

We were in the vicinity last week, ranging from Muir Pass to Dusy Basin and Charlotte Lake and Kearsarge Lakes. But not directly at Rae Lakes.

There's a lot of water around, but stream crossings were not a problem. Mosquitos were always kind of around, sometimes heavy.

Temps usually high 30's to low 70's with freezing temps one night.

Hope that helps.

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Rae lakes updates ? on 08/22/2011 14:54:46 MDT Print View


I just finished the JMT on the 16th.

The Rae Lakes area was beautiful, but buggy.....head net, windshirt, and treat your clothing with permithren. Did not use Deet, except once on the whole trip.

Not sure about your loop, but for the whole JMT, stream crossings were not a big deal.

Thigh high was as much as we got. (I am 5'6").

Snow patches were common at the passes....hiking poles would be a good thing to have to give you three points of contact at all times.

Some of the trails at the passes were covered by snow, but just follow the foot steeps of others....did not ever need to whip out a compass to find my way.

Coldest temp was probably 28F, with some ice inside my bivy one morning.

Daytime temps up to 70's to low 80's.

Hope this helps you a little bit.


christopher smead
(hamsterfish) - MLife

Locale: hamsterfish
Very helpful! on 08/25/2011 18:07:16 MDT Print View

Thanks everyone. :)

christopher smead
(hamsterfish) - MLife

Locale: hamsterfish
Back from Rae Lakes Aug 27th thru Sept 1st on 09/07/2011 02:19:23 MDT Print View

Beautiful. Stream crossings were not an issue at all. Never even had to take off our boots. Barely any snow on Glen Pass.
Low 80's during the days, high 50's at night. Only downside, the mosquito's were the worst I'd ever seen. Bring head nets, deet, bug bombs, agent orange, whateve.