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Sierras - Early Sept
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Ultralite Hiker
(Ultralite) - F
Sierras - Early Sept on 07/26/2011 09:02:20 MDT Print View

A friend and I are going to the Sierras in early September. We are driving up from Las Vegas and will be parking at Kearsarge Pass. We are doing Rae Lakes Loop and have 6 days 7 nights before we have to catch a flight back to the east coast.

-Starting from Kearsarge Pass would clockwise still be the best choice?
-What kind of weather should we expect during this time of the season? From my reasearch it looks like highs in the mid 80s and lows in the 40s at the higher spots. Is this correct?
- Do we need to worry about bugs?
- Do you recommend taking long pants/shirts (eg. RR Bone Flats) for this time of year? Or is shorts and a Merino Wool T-Shirt OK for hiking?
- Will a Montbell U.L. Super Sprial Down Hugger #3 be OK? Or do I need to have a warmer bag for insurance?
-Having never used a bear can, what would be the best size/brand for this length trip? I was thinking of mail order renting a Bearikade Weekender.
-Is a windshirt a must?
-Dri-Ducks OK for Raingear?
-Montbell EX Light OK for camp or need something heavier?

Any other hints/tips?

L Miller
(LMiller) - F

Locale: Maryland
Re: Sierras - Early Sept on 07/26/2011 14:07:24 MDT Print View

I did the loop last year starting at Road's End in late Aug/early Sept.

First, if you are starting at Kearsarge Pass, I would not recommend the loop.

The majority of the loop is in the trees and IMO pales in comparison to the JMT section. From Lower Vidette all the way around to Castle Domes is very nice, but just not as great. This doesn't mean it's not a great hike, it is. But if I had a choice between staying near the JMT or heading down to Road's End and back, I'd stay up every time.

Something like Kearsarge heading north to South Lake (Bishop Pass) or south to Whitney would be similar mileage, but more bang for your buck. Of course, you'd have to arrange for transportation between trail heads.

Highs in the 80's and lows in the 30's at night. In late August last year there were 2 nights in the 20's at 10k.

Didn't have any issues with bugs.

I hiked in a short-sleeve merino t and convertible pants. The pants stayed on until it warmed up.

That bag will be fine. I used the same one and was good in my pants and long-sleeve shirt.

If you can fit all your food + smellables in the Weekender, use it. That's what I had and it worked well.

No windshirt.

DriDucks OK. You probably don't even need the pants.

I has the montbell down inner parka and it was perfect. Not sure how it compares to the EX Light.

Mark Hudson
(vesteroid) - MLife

Locale: Eastern Sierras
temps on 07/26/2011 16:37:17 MDT Print View

I will leave all the other questions to other experts, but jsut for reference, they are calling for temps in the 30s this week at 6200 feet at september, i would be prepared for a night in the 20s beyond a shadow of a doubt. (not that it will happen, but rather that it is highly likely)

First Last
(snusmumriken) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
No reason to do the loop on 07/26/2011 20:49:04 MDT Print View

I agree with Miller - the only reason to do the loop is to get up to the JMT portion. And coming in from Kearsarge you don't have to!
Instead do Kearsarge lakes, Charlotte lake, Glen Pass, Rae Lakes, 60 lakes basin, Dollar lake, and /or in the other direction. It's all good.

And as others said on the equipment, yes in early September please be prepared for below freezing temperatures.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: temps on 07/26/2011 20:59:21 MDT Print View

I've been up there twice in the last half of August, and the dawn temperature was about freezing both times.


Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Sierras - Early Sept on 07/26/2011 21:12:25 MDT Print View

"From my reasearch it looks like highs in the mid 80s and lows in the 40s at the higher spots. Is this correct?"

Probably, but it can also easily get down into the lower 20's at night. I'd plan for the temperatures you specify and be prepared to climb into your bag with all your clothes on if the temperature does happen to drop.

"- Do we need to worry about bugs?"


"- Do you recommend taking long pants/shirts (eg. RR Bone Flats) for this time of year? Or is shorts and a Merino Wool T-Shirt OK for hiking?"

That's a matter of individual preference. I use long pants as a matter of course to protect my skin from over exposure to the sun, brush, granite, and bugs in season. Same goes for shirts.

"-Having never used a bear can, what would be the best size/brand for this length trip? I was thinking of mail order renting a Bearikade Weekender."

That would be an excellent choice. It's the lightest of the lot and should be adequate for 6-7 days.

"-Is a windshirt a must?"

No, but it is a very useful piece of gear. It can help you maximize the efficiency of your insulating layer.

"-Dri-Ducks OK for Raingear?"

Yes, as long as you aren't bushwhacking. Pants probably not necessary.

"-Montbell EX Light OK for camp or need something heavier?"

You might be a little light here. Perhaps something like the Montbell UL Down Parka?

"Any other hints/tips?"

Have a great trip!! On second thought, one other poster mentioned being down in the trees on the Bubbs Creek section below Vidette Meadows. That is a valid point, but other, more scenic, options would involve a shuttle. That is not a big problem, except perhaps or the expense, and would offer you far more scenic routes. It might be at least worth thinking about.

Ultralite Hiker
(Ultralite) - F
Temps on 07/27/2011 21:19:44 MDT Print View

With the temps possibly dipping that low, I may swap my EX Light Down jacket for my Alpine Light Down Jacket. May add my UL Down Inner pants to the list as well. I will also drop the Dri-Ducks Pants.

As far as the loop goes, Kristin, is that a loop you posted? My map should be here in 2 days and I would love to discuss that option. We are trying to avoid taking a shuttle, unless they are readily available on schedule.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Temps on 07/27/2011 21:26:13 MDT Print View

"As far as the loop goes, Kristin, is that a loop you posted?"

Kristin did not post a loop route. It was an "in and out."

Frankly, I never saw that much special in the western end of the Rae Lakes Loop. The scenery is mostly along the JMT and within a few miles of it one way or the other.


Ultralite Hiker
(Ultralite) - F
Route on 07/27/2011 21:29:12 MDT Print View

I found a map to glance at. Seems as though that in and out route is just the eastern half of the Rae Lakes Loop no? In order to make that into a 6 day trip I would imagine you would have to travel a lot further north correct?

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Go do it on 07/27/2011 21:42:40 MDT Print View

I did the loop the way you have proposed. Less scenic up the Paradise Valley area and to Woods Creek Crossing of the JMT. 60 Lakes Basin shows signs of little travel until you hit the southern end. Where I XCed into, neat to see old activity and little recent usage. If you fish, stay at Rae Lakes and keep the fish, there are tons there that need to be utilized. A 60 something father and his son did the loop out of Road's End in two nights and three days, so a fast trip can be done. I know, I met them their first day at Vidette Meadow and the morning they left, met them east of Upper Paradise CG. Watch for bears in the Paradise Valley area and mice in the bear box at Upper Paradise CG.


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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Go do it on 07/27/2011 21:54:11 MDT Print View

The Bubbs Creek Trail is good for wildlife, if you like rattlesnakes. I saw one there at an elevation of 9050 feet, which is amazing high.


Ultralite Hiker
(Ultralite) - F
Time on 07/27/2011 22:13:29 MDT Print View

If I do decide to stick with the Rae Lakes Loop, would entering at Kearsarge, doing the loop, and finishing at Kearsarge add much mileage to the 46 mile loop? Still doable in 6 days? Would we have any time to side trip in the 60 Lakes, Glen Pass, Rae Lakes area?

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Time on 07/27/2011 22:30:25 MDT Print View

If you have to drive over from Las Vegas, there is some time spent. Where are you going to pick up your wilderness permit? Then, do you expect to just drive up to Onion Valley and start? If you do, the elevation will slow you down a lot, especially with a fully loaded backpack.

By my estimate, the Kearsarge entry will be about 4 miles longer on each end than the normal Road's End entry.


Ultralite Hiker
(Ultralite) - F
Timing on 07/28/2011 07:10:50 MDT Print View

Yes we are flying to Vegas and driving up. I believe we will be picking up our permits in Bishop if I am not mistaken.

Our plan is to drive up to Onion Valley after picking up the permit and spending the night at a campsite near the trailhead. Then start the next day.

Elizabeth Tracy
(mariposa) - M

Locale: Outside
go out via Baxter Pass on 07/28/2011 15:17:09 MDT Print View

An improved loop would be to start at Kearsarge Pass and come out via Baxter Pass.

There are two issues with Baxter Pass, (1) it's very rugged, so I wouldn't recommend it for the inexperienced; and (2) you will need to hitchhike or arrange a shuttle. Park your car at the Baxter Pass trailhead early in the morning, hitchhike (it may be a long while before a car comes) to the Kearsarge Pass trailhead, and start your walking.

The best side trips along the way are Dragon Lake (easy) and Sixty Lakes Basin. Sixty Lakes Basin may be worth a couple of days. The north end of that basin, where it dead-ends at a cliff, has an incredible view. The southwest part of the basin has an easy x-country pass into Gardiner Basin, another place to explore if you are experienced at x-country.

Kearsarge-Baxter is one of the best loops in the whole Sierra. With its eastside entry and exit, and quicker access to the high country, it is much superior to the traditional loop that starts at Roads End to the west. You avoid all of the walking-a-dusty-forest-trail parts. The passes themselves, Kearsarge & Baxter, are both very memorable and pretty.

If you are a strong hiker and like to go lots of miles per day, you could continue hiking north along the JMT and exit at Sawmill or Taboose Pass instead of Baxter Pass. Sawmill and Taboose, like Baxter, are long, rugged and remote. If you make it all the way north to Taboose Pass area, you will want to do a side-trip to the famous Bench Lake and maybe Arrow Peak.

- Elizabeth

Edited by mariposa on 07/28/2011 15:25:07 MDT.

Elizabeth Tracy
(mariposa) - M

Locale: Outside
Kearsarge Lakes on 07/28/2011 15:33:23 MDT Print View

Oh, and when you're descending the west side of Kearsarge Pass on Day 1, you will be presented with two different trails that will take you towards Charlotte Lake/Glen Pass. Take the leftland/southernmost trail, which is the longer but prettier route. It will drop you down to the beautiful Kearsarge Lakes (nice camping) and Bullfrog Lake (no camping). Kearsarge Lakes is a nice, relatively easy first-night camping destination, and is far prettier than the dull Charlotte Lake.

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
I spent 7 nights on 07/28/2011 17:43:30 MDT Print View

You could do the loop easily in 5-6 days with the side trips. I went in over Kearsarge to Vidette Meadow the first day and I started after 9:30 as I had to pick up my permit. I also dallied two days at Rae Lakes and stayed the last night on the east side of Kearsarge at a lake off the trail a quarter mile. So that would knock to nights off a 7 night trip. I visited 60 Lakes Basin on my way to Rae Lakes, saw Dragon Lake for a bit of fishing too. I was about 54 at the time a few years ago.


Ultralite Hiker
(Ultralite) - F
Changed on 07/29/2011 10:34:47 MDT Print View

We decided to get a shuttle and head from Onion Valley to South lake on the JMT.

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Ah, the tough route on 07/29/2011 11:08:21 MDT Print View

Get an early start up the Golden Staircase, step after step. Deer Meadow close to the bottom is a nice spot if that fits in. Gorgeous spot for flowers.


John Kays
(johnk) - M

Locale: SoCal
Somewhat of a Loop on 07/31/2011 11:39:14 MDT Print View

You might consider going in over Shepherd's Pass, over Jct Pass into Center basin and hook back around over Forester Pass. With extra time go over the Tawny Point notch into Wright Lakes or do Tyndall Peak....or come over Kearsarge and loop around Forester and Jct Passes. Man this makes me salivate not having the time to do trip of any length this August or September.

.....didn't see you already decided. Is there anyway possible to go on up to North Lake to take in Muir Pass-Evo. Valley/McClur Mdw?? These are the gems. if you cut thru Darwin Canyon over Lamarc Col you can shorten the time a little to make it possible time-wise.

Edited by johnk on 07/31/2011 11:44:42 MDT.