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Rae Lake Loop July 30-Aug 3 2012
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Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Rae Lake Loop July 30-Aug 3 2013 on 03/08/2013 08:37:38 MST Print View

Trip Date – July 30-August 3(5 Days, 4 Nights)

Plan – Rae Lakes Loop starting at Onion Valley

Looking for advice/suggestions from people familiar with the area. I’ll be driving up from a wedding in San Diego on Sunday, July 28. I’ve put my name in for a lottery spot to day hike Whitney on Monday July 29. If I don’t get that, what are the odds, in August, of getting a walk-up permit? Good/Bad? How early would I have to show up on Monday? After the hike I plan on driving to Reno and flying out of there. I’m also open to any suggestions of different/better hikes that fall between San Diego and Reno so long as I can get to Reno on Saturday night and fly out Sunday.

As far as the loop: Clockwise or Counterclockwise?

Route plan Counterclockwise:

Tuesday: TH to Rae Lake or Sixty Lakes, depending on crowds.
Wednesday – Rae or Sixty Lakes to Upper Paradise Valley
Thursday – Upper Paradise Valley to Reflection Lake
Friday - Reflection Lake double back to Forrester Pass, double back to Charlotte Lake or one of the other lakes back to Onion Valley.
Saturday – Back to Onion Valley

Route plan Clockwise:

Tuesday – Onion Valley to Reflection Lake
Wednesday – Reflection Lake double back and go west and north to Upper Paradise Valley
Thursday – Upper Paradise Valley to Rae or Sixty Lake(depending on crowds)
Friday – Rae or Sixty Lakes to Forester Pass, double back to Charlotte Lake.
Saturday – Back to Onion Valley

To give you an idea of the mileage/terrain I am comfortable with

2012 – (4 days, 3 nights)South Lake to Dusy Basin; Dusy Basin to Evolution Lake; Evolution to Darwin Bench with a side trip to McClure Meadows Ranger Station; Darwin Bench over Lamarck Col back to South Lake.

2011 (4 days, 3 nights) Tuolumne Meadows to Vogelsang HSV; Vogelsang HSV to Thousand Island Lake; Thousand Island Lake via loop of Garner Lake->Ediza and Shadow Lake->River Trail->Badger Lakes-> to just below Donohue Pass; back to the car via Lyell Canyon

Thanks for any help.

Edited by jrmacd on 03/08/2013 15:30:37 MST.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Rae Lake Loop July 30-Aug 3 2012 on 03/08/2013 13:26:38 MST Print View

You are doing pre-trip planning for a trip last summer?


Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Re: Re: Rae Lake Loop July 30-Aug 3 2013 on 03/08/2013 13:37:07 MST Print View

Oops, thanks, I didn't proof it before I posted, and they don't let you edit subject lines.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Rae Lake Loop July 30-Aug 3 2013 on 03/08/2013 14:14:58 MST Print View

I think you have your clockwise and counterclockwise directions backwards.

How do you intend to get from Lake Reflection to anyplace? I've gone from there to places on the opposite side of the Great Western Divide, and it isn't simple or fast. Plus, it isn't clear about the doubling back.


Katy Anderson
(KatyAnderson) - F
Rae Lakes Loop on 03/08/2013 14:43:32 MST Print View

The JMT portion of the Rae Lakes loop is crowded but very scenic. The rest of the loop is mostly a walk through the woods.
If you are entering from the west side you have to do that boring walk through the woods to get to the good stuff. You however are entering from Onion Valley, so you will get to the high country right over Kearsarge Pass.
You want to do Whitney anyway, so why not do Onion Valley to Whitney with some possible side excursions or peak bagging?

Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Re: Re: Rae Lake Loop July 30-Aug 3 2013 on 03/08/2013 15:28:37 MST Print View

I think you have your clockwise and counterclockwise directions backwards.

You are correct again. That's what I get for typing this up in little segments at while at work.

I plan on doubling back from Lake Reflection, or stopping at East Lake if time is short.

As far as going from Onion Vally to Whitney, that would introduce a hitchhiking element into it, which I'm not willing to do when I have to be on an airplane the day after I fly out. Otherwise, that'd certainly be preferable.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Rae Lake Loop July 30-Aug 3 2013 on 03/08/2013 15:56:09 MST Print View

Lake Reflection is a pleasant sort of place. You would have to decide whether you want to go that far out of your way to see it and then return to the main loop trail.

Lake Reflection at dawn

Getting from the main loop trail at Bubbs Creek south to East Lake is uphill, but otherwise not too difficult. About a mile beyond East Lake, the trail disappears in a boulder field. In fact, I met a guy who had to turn around because he couldn't find any trace of the trail beyond the boulder field. If you persist, you can continue beyond the boulder field, and you just have to imagine where the trail ought to be. Eventually you make it to Lake Reflection.

As to the area of Rae Lakes proper, it tends to be pretty heavily used by mid-season, even if the scenery is great. Sixty Lakes Basin is slightly off the beaten track, so it has only a small fraction of the use. The trick is getting in and out of Sixty Lakes. There are ways, and they are not as obvious as the established trail. Keep your eyes open for bighorn sheep rams.


USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Rae Lake Loop July 30-Aug 3 2013 on 03/08/2013 23:08:03 MST Print View

If you check your topo map, due west of Arrowhead Lake, you can pick up a faint trail or wing it from there over into Sixty Lake Basin. The other way is the trail just south of Fin Dome. I only saw a couple people gill netting fish in one of the bigger lakes back in there a few years ago. Very faint, old trail back in there, but it's easy to negotiate. I think it would be pretty in there earlier in the season, I went early August and things were getting dry already. Not a great destination if you ask me, so that may be why so little usage or maybe most folks are speeding over the JMT and don't have time for side trips, which sounds normal. When I'm off the JMT, I see few folks, even around the popular Silver Pass area further north.

Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Seki loop July 30-August August 3 2013 on 03/26/2013 14:01:11 MDT Print View

I've done a bit more looking at the map and based on what people have said here, I'd like to stay up a bit higher on my hike. I've come up with a couple different itineraries.(mileage estimates from my Harrison map)

Clockwise Loop

Day 1 – Onion Valley – Raes Lakes – 12.3 miles
Day 2 – Raes Lakes – Tyndall Creek – 19 miles
Day 3 – Tyndall Creek – Colby Lake – 18-19 miles
Day4 – Colby Lake – Bubbs Creek – 21-22 miles
Day 5 – Bubbs Creek – Onion Valley – 18 miles

Counterclockwise Loop

Day 1 – Onion Valley – Raes Lakes – 12.3
Day 2 – Raes Lakes – Bubbs Creek – 16
Day 3 – Bubbs Creek – Colby Lake – 21-22
Day 4 – Colby Lake – Tyndall Creek – 18-19
Day 5 – Tyndall Creek – Onion Valley – 21

The counterclockwise route has the appeal of shorter miles and lower elevation on the first two days. Would this hike be worth adding an extra day so as to cut the miles per day down?

What's the trail along the Kern River like between where it intersects with the HST and Lake South America? I was thinking of a shorter loop and loitering around Lake South America and exploring around there.