Nathan's Lucubrations; on computers, music and the outdoors

10 07 2014

Thu, 10 Jul 2014

Weeklong Backpack: Rae Lakes loop via Kearsarge Pass

I like to go on weeklong backpack trips. Day hikes, day climbs, or even overnight trips are nice, but there's something that happens when you're out on the trail for more than a couple of days. Sure, you get fairly fragrant, even with a daily rinse in a stream or lake. But you also enter into a certain mindset. You forget what day of the week it is. You don't worry about daily chores such as checking email. Your only concerns are hiking to the next camp, setting up camp and making dinner.

With so little to focus on, what do you do? I've taken books in the past, which can be richly rewarding from the point of view of focusing so fully on one thing. While that might seem austere compared to the multifaceted distractions of a smartphone, even leaving the book behind can be its own reward.

You gain time to reflect, to let your thoughts settle and pause to think about the bigger picture. Not in any sort of compelling, life-altering sort of way, but just to meditate serenely. I know this may sound like a bunch of New Age bullshit, but there's something about clearing one's head with nothing but the beauty of the surrounding environment to distract you. The exercise also helps to boost positive feelings via endorphins.

Anyway, all this is just to preface an entry on my latest foray into the wild: Rae Lakes loop. It's a nice little trip in the Sequoia Kings Canyon National Park. The majority of trip reports talk about starting this loop from the West, beginning at Road's End, but living on the Eastern side of the Sierras, I decided to enter via Kearsarge pass.

I didn't get any takers from the mountain rescue group except Jeff for a day hike of Gould, so my father and I turned it into a leisurely hike. Water was in abundance, although there were some long dry stretches of trail where it was inaccesible. Plenty of beautiful scenery and excellent weather - a bit warm at lower elevations, and not too cold at higher elevations, even for the last night when we camped at 11200ft.

We met a bunch of PCTers and JMTers once we hit that section of the loop. We also attempted Rixford from Glen pass via the ridgeline (we'd rather scramble over rock than go up the grunge), but got cliffed out and eventually gave up.

Saw deer, squirrels, chipmunks, tadpoles, fish, mosquitoes and plenty of birds. This also marks the first hike where I saw a snake, albeit he had a hole in his side that flies were going in and out of.

2014-06-29 to 07-05: Rae Lakes loop photos

posted at: 19:23 | path: | permanent link to this entry

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