Saturday, September 24, 2016

Sunday, September 18, 2016

One Rattlesnake, Two Black Bears, Three Days, Four Hikers, 74 km around Rae Lakes in Kings Canyon, California

Experienced and conditioned hikers shall do this hike in five days, dumb and ignorant ones do it in three days. The later is me and now I am ready for Kilimanjaro.

The Black Bear

 Mile for mile – and perhaps inch for inch – the Rae Lakes Loop in Kings Canyon National Park contains some of the most stunning and celebrated scenery in a mountain range world-famous for stunning and celebrated scenery. The route consists of three separate but connecting trails that travel through glacially-carved canyons, a high country basin containing a chain of sapphire blue lakes set against towering granitic crags, and an alpine pass that just scrapes 12,000 feet. Throughout the route, you will observe nearly every major biotic zone (life zones characterized by specific species) in the Sierra, prime examples of glacial erosion, waterfalls, idyllic valleys, tranquil meadows, and myriad sublime scenes ranging from the intimate to the jaw-droppingly grand.
From our personal experience in completing this route, we recommend that conditioned hikers take the route in 5 days, with one zero day in the Rae Lakes area. However, it is possible to complete this route in anywhere from 3 ambitious days to 7 leisurely days. We also recommend that hikers take this route clockwise, as the counter-clockwise route features some intense climbing in the initial stretch while pack weight is at its highest. The text below describes the route as if hiked clockwise in four days, although distances for specific destinations are indicated should hikers wish to use the information to fashion their own itinerary.
Basic safety considerations for high-altitude wilderness travel apply on this route. You will reach a maximum altitude of 11,998′ on Glen Pass at nearly the center of the route, and a considerable portion of this route occurs above 10,000′. Altitude sickness, overexposure to ultraviolet light, dehydration, fatigue, and heatstroke are all potential ailments you may encounter while hiking. In addition, the necessity of carrying up to 45 pounds of gear for 38 miles while gaining and losing over 7,000′ of elevation necessitates a certain level of physical fitness. Hikers attempting this route should be in good condition, preferably with at least some backcountry navigation skill and some experience backpacking.