Day 18 on the John Muir Trail…
Yesterday we discussed our plans for today’s hike. We had originally planned to hike over Glen Pass to Vidette Meadow, but decided to modify the itinerary to have an easier day and leave us just below Glen Pass. Even with the modification, we would meet our original exit date to Whitney Portal.
On the other side, we paused for our first break, well aware that the remainder of our hike we would climb over 2,400 feet.
It was a warm, dry day, and the forest thinned as we climbed. At the 5.8 mile mark, we stopped at Dollar Lake (10,200ft.). There were some beautiful shady spots, so we stopped and actually cooked a dinner for lunch — a first for us.
After a leisurely lakeside meal, we headed back up the JMT towards the Rae Lakes. This chain of three lakes are renown for their beauty, and the Rae Lakes Loop is a popular backpacking route in Kings Canyon National Park.
In the spirit of John Muir, we sauntered along the east shore of the lakes, stopping at the ranger station to check for word on Hari and Jeffrey. They outlined their plans for the remaining days, and were actually picking up additional miles with the goal of exiting at Whitney Portal one or even two days early. We added our plans, so the rangers would be aware, and continued on.
We paused to say hello to Steady, a north-bound Pacific Crest Trail thru-hiker from Australia. He and his wife — Slow — had no prior backpacking experience. They had seen a documentary about the PCT and decided it looked an an adventure worth doing. They bought two tickets to San Diego, stopped at REI to buy equipment, and were on the trail a few days later. Slow and Steady had covered a big section of the PCT already, and did quite well in spite of their lack of experience. After 3-1/2 months on the trail, they had become experts.
As we headed past the second lake, we saw two 8-point bucks grazing nearby, unfazed by our presence.
But the best was yet to come, as the John Muir Trail threads between the second and third Rae Lakes, we had stunning views of the dome named The Painted Lady. Why is it called this? This photo says it all.
At the far side of the Rae Lakes, we found a campsite for the night.
In the end, we had logged a mere 8.5 miles. It was an easy day, but we were well positioned to tackle Glen Pass tomorrow.
Trail Map: Woods Creek to Rae Lakes
JMT Day 18 Photo Gallery
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Tomorrow, we head to over Glen Pass to Vidette Meadow.
Originally hiked on August 13, 2010.
Hey there – have you done the trail counterclockwise to charlotte lake by any chance? Looking to do a quick weekend trip next month before the crowds and it seems like the snow should be cleared, and charlotte lake is the perfect distance.
Jeff Hester says
@MyLifeofAdventures – No I haven’t. I’m assuming you’re planning on going from Onion Valley over Kearsarge Pass?
Pete B says
Hello. I’m going to be doing most of JMT (north to south) this coming August. I’m hooking up with some friends at Le Conte, then we are all continuing on south. There is some debate among us on how many days we should allow ourselves to hike from Le Conte to Onion Valley (where we are going to re supply). Lots of great information here…but can you tell me, more or less, how many hours a day were you actually walking. How early did you start, when did you stop. I’m trying to get an idea of “miles per hour” we can count on. We are old guys and not going for any records. Thanks.
Jeff Hester says
Great question, Pete B! Joan and I typically woke up with the sun, but were not early-starters. We’d make coffee, have our oatmeal and take our time. We’d usually hit the trail by 9am; sometimes earlier, sometimes later. We would take a long, leisurely lunch break which usually included soaking our feet in a refreshing stream. And then we would roll into camp in time to setup our tent and make dinner.
We covered about 2 miles per hour on average, when we were moving.
Pete B says
Thanks so much for your response. That helps in our calculations. I have another query…regarding bear canisters. We will be using 70L backpacks and although the canisters we will be using (BV500) do fit inside the main compartments they use almost all the available space. I know that these canisters can also be attached to the exterior of a pack. In your experience, how did most hikers handle the bear canisters? Stuffed inside their packs? Did you see anyone with their canister attached to the exterior? We are really struggling with this one. ANY insight you can provide will be helpful. Thanks again!!
Jeff Hester says
Pete B. — Most of the time, our bear canisters (we each carried one) were inside our packs, but we did experiment with carrying it strapped on the outside. It tended to through the weight distribution out of whack, either hanging too low on the bottom, or up too high on the top.
Sleeping pad is a better candidate for strapping outside, and maybe the tent (lighter than your bear canister).