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#917823 - 10/28/09 12:12 AM [TR] Rae Lakes Loop - Adventure Run 10/24/2009
off_the_hook Offline

Registered: 05/15/03
Posts: 186
TRs: 90 Photos: 13448
Loc: San Carlos, CA
Trip: Rae Lakes Loop - Adventure Run

Date: 10/24/2009

Trip Report:

For best viewing use Internet Explorer or Google Chrome (Firefox does not load completely from my experience)

According to the national park service, the Rae Lakes Loop is one of the most popular hikes in Sequoia and Kings Canyon, if not the entire Sierra. I completed the famous loop in 12 hours, 31 minutes, starting at 5:30 am and finishing just after 6 pm. The loop is 46 miles long and climbs from 5,035 ft at the trailhead to 11,978 ft at Glen Pass. The portion between Vidette Meadows (Mile 14) and Woods Creek Crossing (Mile 29) is along the John Muir Trail. The highlight of the loop is the Rae Lakes area, a chain of large alpine lakes over 10,500 feet with views of rugged Sierra peaks. The trailhead is at Road’s End in magnificent Kings Canyon and travels along Bubbs Creek and Woods Creek, including Vidette Meadows, Castle Domes, and Paradise Valley. Most backpackers do the loop clockwise, which makes sense as you gradually gain elevation through the Rae Lakes basin. However, for running it makes more sense to go counterclockwise reaching the highpoint at Glen Pass in 18.5 miles, followed by 27.5 miles of downhill, in theory.

A strong storm on October 13th dropped several feet of snow above 9,000 feet, and a substantial amount of snow remains which made for slow going between Charlotte Lake junction and Dollar Lake (~8 miles). The snow was particularly deep on the north side of Glen Pass with an icy crust layer on top of powdery snow. The result was a lot of postholing and I often could not find where the trail was buried until near the Rae Lakes, but the views of the Sierra with a fresh coat of snow more than compensated. The trails along the loop are generally rocky and rugged precluding a consistent fast pace. I found the section before and after Mist Falls (miles 41 to 43) to be particularly rocky and rough on tired legs at the end of the day.

Alternatively, the video can be watched on Vimeo

Location (Elevation): Time Elapsed / Split / Real Time
Mile 0 – Road’s End TH (5,035 ft) : 0 / 0 / 05:30
Mile 2 – Paradise/Bubbs Jct. (5,120 ft) : 14:53 / 14:53 / 05:45
Mile 4 – Sphinx Junction (6,240 ft) : 45:03 / 30:11 / 06:30
Mile 11 – Junction Meadow (8,136 ft+) : 2:11:59 / 1:26:55 / 07:42
Mile 14 – Vidette Meadow (9,514 ft) : 3:06:09 / 54:11 / 08:36
Mile 18.5 – Glen Pass (11,978 ft) : 4:55:49 / 1:49:40 / 10:26
Mile 21 – Rae Lakes (10,564 ft) : 6:20:11 / 1:24:21 / 11:50
Mile 24 – Dollar Lake (10,170 ft) : 7:48:51 / 1:28:40 / 13:19
Mile 29 – Woods Creek Crossing (8,492 ft) : 8:46:16 / 57:25 / 14:16
Mile 34 – Upper Woods Creek (~7,500 ft) : 9:43:18 / 57:02 / 15:13
Mile 42 – Mist Falls (~5,500 ft) : 11:37:00 / 1:53:41 / 17:07
Mile 44 – Paradise/Bubbs Jct. (5,120 ft) : 12:14:12 / 37:12 / 17:44
Mile 46 – Road’s End TH (5,035 ft) : 12:31:37 / 17:25 / 18:01

Mount Bago

Bubbs Creek Falls

Vidette Meadows

Deerhorn Mountain

Mount Brewer

Corkscrew Southern Foxtail Pine

Charlotte Lake

Alpine lake below Glen Pass

South Guard, Mount Brewer, North Guard, and Mount Francis Farquar

Rae Lakes from Glen Pass

Trail down from Glen Pass buried in snow.

Lots of snow

Upper Rae Lake

Arrowhead Lake

Dollar Lake

Southern Foxtail Pines

Woods Creek Bridge

Castle Domes

Upper Paradise Valley

Mist Falls

Approach Notes:
Snow line in the high Sierra is currently between 10-11k depending on the aspect.

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#917825 - 10/28/09 12:22 AM Re: [TR] Rae Lakes Loop - Adventure Run 10/24/2009 [Re: off_the_hook]
pink Offline

Registered: 10/19/06
Posts: 8496
TRs: 1 Photos: 368
thank you... that made my nite.

#917998 - 10/28/09 04:03 PM Re: [TR] Rae Lakes Loop - Adventure Run 10/24/2009 [Re: pink]
rocky_joe Offline
addicted to

Registered: 02/25/08
Posts: 510
TRs: 16 Photos: 72
Loc: High Horse Mountain
absolutely fantastic photos. thanks for adding another adventure to my (quickly growing) list.
On a never ending quest to not pay retail.

#918040 - 10/28/09 08:08 PM Re: [TR] Rae Lakes Loop - Adventure Run 10/24/2009 [Re: rocky_joe]
ryanhuetter Offline

Registered: 10/21/07
Posts: 58
TRs: 2 Photos: 3
Great shots. Beautiful area huh? Amazed to see so many pics taken on such a fast run.

#918053 - 10/28/09 09:22 PM Re: [TR] Rae Lakes Loop - Adventure Run 10/24/2009 [Re: ryanhuetter]
cascadesdj Offline

Registered: 08/06/09
Posts: 102
TRs: 2 Photos: 22
Loc: Roslyn, WA
Another impressive outing, with great photos! But "tired legs at the end of the day"???? What a wuss...

#918595 - 11/01/09 10:48 AM Re: [TR] Rae Lakes Loop - Adventure Run 10/24/2009 [Re: cascadesdj]
Das Beerd Offline

Registered: 12/03/07
Posts: 33
TRs: 0 Photos: 4
Loc: United States
Thanks for the report. Any chance you can post a quick gear list of what you take on a run like this (clothing, pack, hydration, food, etc.)? I'm new to adventure running and I'm trying to figure what I need for trips in the shoulder seasons where preparation for weather is key, but I don't want to end up running with a 25 pound pack as well.

#918731 - 11/02/09 06:32 AM Re: [TR] Rae Lakes Loop - Adventure Run 10/24/2009 [Re: Das Beerd]
stillcrankin Offline

Registered: 03/23/04
Posts: 128
TRs: 0 Photos: 34
Loc: Elsewhere

That's frikkin' burly! You must have spent half of the 12 hours taking pictures.

Long distance mountain running is a total inward journey of commitment and determination (pain is somewhere in the mix, too).

Nice job!!!

need to change my name to still-plodding-along-and-barely-making-it

#919346 - 11/04/09 07:15 AM Re: [TR] Rae Lakes Loop - Adventure Run 10/24/2009 [Re: Das Beerd]
off_the_hook Offline

Registered: 05/15/03
Posts: 186
TRs: 90 Photos: 13448
Loc: San Carlos, CA
Here is what I took on this trip:

Clothing: I wore running shorts and a long sleeve wool shirt. I brought extra clothing that I didn't use (wind jacket, pants) but I would bring them again considering time of year and duration of the trip.

Backpack: I used the Deuter Futura 25 to carry all the extra clothing I brought. Otherwise, I typically use the Ultimate Direction Wasp on adventure runs.

Food: Powerbars, Gels, ShotBloks, SaltStick electrolyte capsules (The only electrolyte capsule that was formulated to closely resemble the electrolyte profile lost during activity: sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium.)

Hydration: I had a camelback and an Ultimate Direction Fastdraw Handheld water bottle to fill up water quickly at streams.

Footwear: La Sportiva Fireblade Trail Runners

Headlamp: First time using the Petzl Myo RXP on a trip. While heavier, they provide ample light to run comfortably on rough trails at night.

I brought Kahtoola Microspikes and they turned out to be extremely helpful on the sometimes icy descent from Glen Pass. It would have helped if I brought high gaiters as well, not for keeping snow out of my shoe, but for preventing the crusty snow from cutting my leg as I postholed.


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