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Charlotte Lake and Rae Lakes Basin, CA
mini location map2014-09-14
20 by photographer avatartrekkin_gecko
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Charlotte Lake and Rae Lakes Basin, CA 
Charlotte Lake and Rae Lakes Basin, CA
Backpack avatar Sep 14 2014
Backpack26.25 Miles 7,250 AEG
Backpack26.25 Miles3 Days         
7,250 ft AEG30 LBS Pack
1st trip
Partners partners
john and denny had planned a quick trip to the sierras for a two night backpack and invited me to join them

day 1
on the road early sunday morning, arriving at onion lakes trailhead after a stop at the visitor's center to pick up permits
there is quite a list of rules to follow :?
forecast looked good and the ranger dismissed the dark clouds gathering over mt. whitney
hit the trail around 11:30
my first trip to the sierras
fresh pine-scented air, big views and a waterfall just to get started with
we had a good 2600 feet to gain kearsarge pass
i was thankful that i had trained with a pack and had a weekend of hiking in flagstaff to prepare
even so, it was not easy ascending kearsarge trail
we passed several lakes (gilbert, flower, pothole) and waterfalls along the way
the views at the pass were outstanding, especially of kearsarge lakes and pinnacles
we took the lower lake trail to the john muir cutoff to charlotte lake
the trail winds along bullfrog lake through forest
the terrain reminded me of certain parts of mt. lemmon, glacier national park, and colorado, but the overall effect was unique
had to climb up a ways to drop into charlotte lake, and ran into the remains of a steady rainfall
charlotte lake and rae lakes got quite a bit of rain sunday afternoon
we were all hoping we wouldn't have to deal with that
found a nice campsite, explored, took pics, cooked dinner and turned in early
it rained for awhile during the night
denny and i had tents, but john was in a bivy and didn't even notice :o
didn't get that cold, maybe upper 30s

day 2
took a couple hours to get breakfast and packed up, but soon enough went back to the JMT junction and up to glen pass
this side isn't bad with more gradual switchbacks and we were on the pass well before noon
tremendous views of charlotte lake along the way, and surrounding peaks and the the entire rae lakes basin at the pass
a steeper hike down to the first lake, then cutting across an isthmus to camp on the east side
found many nice campsites, selecting one with a lake view
set up camp, had lunch and coffee and relaxed, then took off on our planned day hike to sixty lakes basin
i'll have a separate triplog for that one, but for now i'll just say it was an adventure, putting us back at camp well past dark for dinner
got up in the night to see a half moon lighting up the surrounding cirque and reflecting off the lake, yet dark enough to see stars
had it been just a bit warmer, i would have sat up to enjoy it
i never sleep well backpacking or camping, hyper-alert to odd noises
it was very quiet both nights with only a handful of other campers and no bugs whatsoever :)
weather was good all day, and maybe low 30s that night

day 3
didn't get a real early start today, either
packed up while having coffee and breakfast and took off around 8:30 or so
we all knew the climb up to glen pass would be steep
packs might have been a couple pounds lighter by now
a tough ascent but a more gradual descent to the junction with kearsarge pass trail, where we took a break
this time we stayed on the upper trail, and got nice views of bullfrog and kearsarge lakes
the last half mile of this was demanding, and we took another break at the pass to admire the scenery up high one last time
another four and a half miles back to the trailhead, which we took at our own pace
denny's knee was bothering him, and i hope it's nothing major
burger and fries in lone pine and the long drive back

random thoughts:
this two night sampler just whetted my appetite for more
cactus to clouds and mt. whitney go on the list
it's a long drive, and kudos to denny for doing all of it
we all had the right basics for two nights, although had it rained more, it would not have been nearly as much fun
this is a good time of year to go with fewer crowds and no bugs
the bear vault wasn't as annoying as i thought it might be, although it certainly adds weight
i need to pare my pack weight down to about 25 pounds
brought a few things i didn't need, and too much food
breakfast and dinner and snacks - no need for lunch
my sawyer squeeze worked well with water so abundant
i'm still new at backpacking, as i've only been on 5-6 trips
learn something every time
john and denny were great partners and good company, and i really appreciate you boys including me on this trip
it was an awesome one!
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