John Muir Trail Trip Report

Day 16

September 4, 2011

Rae Lakes to
Charlotte Lake

5.8 miles

Day 16 Profile
JMT Day 16
Day 16
Google Maps Terrain

It went down to 33 last night. I finally was glad I had my 15 degree bag, and for the first time this trip actually zipped it up instead of using it like a quilt. I was toasty warm. My Tarptent Moment was soaked with condensation. It was a pain wiping down all the sides as best I could, but the tent was at least a pound heaver with water when I packed it up. I was up at 5:30, and hiking by 6:45. The Rae Lakes were stunning in the dawn light. As I passed the junction to the Sixty Lakes Basin trail, I decided that 'next time' I would explore the Sixty Lakes Basin as I passed through here.

Middle Rae Lake
Middle Rae Lake in the dawn light

Climb to Glen Pass
Climb to Glen Pass
Arrowhead Lake
Snow fields approaching Glen Pass

Glen Pass was the hardest climb of any pass so far. Not bad as far as distance, but it seemed steeper. As with the previous passes, there was some snow to cross, but not enough to be a hindrance. It didn't take long for me to reach the top (2 hours). The views and panoramas of Rae Lakes in the distance, the alpine tarns, and valley stretching for miles below are stunning. The picture below is one of my favorites of the trip. I think Glen Pass has special meaning for me since it is the first pass I experienced in the Sierra, 30+ years ago.

I was not able to stay long. I really wanted to get to Charlotte Lake by 11:00 to catch the packers, so I enjoyed the 'moment', but headed down the south side after 10 or 15 minutes. If I am blessed to once again visit this special place, I will allow time to stay for a longer visit.

Glen Pass
View looking back towards Rae Lakes

I made good time, and hit the Charlotte Lake trail junction right at 11:00. It was a bit too warm in the sun and there was no water available, so I sipped my remaining water and found a shady spot to rest and wait. I also set up my Tarptent Moment to let it dry out. I love this trail junction. You can see the trails leading off in every direction. Kearsarge Pass to the east, Glen Pass to the north, Vidette Meadow to the south, and Charlotte Lake to the west, and you can see all of them leading off into the distance. Cool. It was such a nice spot to rest, I took a little nap!

11:30, 12:00, 12:30, 1:00 - no packer or resupply. OK, I admit at 1:00 I was getting a bit worried. Then, I see several horses and mules heading down the trail. Yay! They said they had to re-shoe one of the horses so were late. Actually, the window of time was anytime between 11am and 1pm so technically they were not late... Getting a hiker or a mule train to a remote spot at an exact time is problematic in any case, so the packer does include instructions on what to do if either hiker or packer is late. In this particular spot, because Sequoia Kings Pack Train has a good working relationship with Ranger George Durkee at Charlotte Lake, George allows the packer to use a steel box behind the ranger station as long as the hiker (or the packer in the event the hiker does not show up) picks up the resupply within 24 hours. Nice arrangement. Not exactly sure what George gets out of the deal. I believe they pack out trash and hopefully bring him goodies (fresh fruit??) once in a while. In any case, it is a great service for hikers, so thanks George!

I asked the packer if they could go ahead and take my resupply down to Charlotte Lake, since in addition to my resupply, I would also have to deal with Renee's resupply, and carrying both down to Charlotte Lake would have been tough. They said no problem, and so they went ahead and I hiked down to the lake and met them at the Ranger station. George was also there so we chatted a bit. It was nice to finally meet him. He is just about legendary since he has been manning the station at Charlotte Lake for so many years.

Glen Pass
Wildflowers on south side of Glen Pass
Arrowhead Lake
Between Glen Pass and Charlotte lake, looking South

I grabbed my resupply box and made sure there was a couple of buckets with Renee's name on them. She will be here tomorrow. Carrying my big box, I went searching for a campsite. The area was crowded! (Labor Day week). I finally found a spot at the extreme end of the lake. Since I knew I could return my box, and any trash, to be picked up by the Pack train, I had all kinds of stuff in my resupply box that you would not expect. Fruit cups, Pringles, stew (not freeze dried!!!), and an extra water bottle (I wanted 2 for the Whitney portion of the trail). SWEET!! I had more food in that box than I could possibly need, but that was the plan. I had no idea how hungry I would be after 15 days on the trail, so I got to choose what sounded best and I took the rest back to the ranger station, along with my trash.

Charlotte Lake
Charlotte Lake Trail junction
Charlotte Lake
Charlotte Lake

After a brisk swim in Charlotte Lake, I relaxed at camp for the rest of the afternoon. Nice! I think I will adjust my plan a bit for tomorrow. I had planned on a short day, but I think I will even the days out a little and do more than what I had planned tomorrow so the following days will have a few less miles to do. It has been nice to rest these last 2 days. At around the six mile mark today, my toes went numb and the top of my left foot had some serious pain. Not sure what that was all about...

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