Day 15 – Rae Lakes

8/4/2015 Lake Marjorie to Rae Lakes
15.2 miles with Pinchot Pass at 12,130′

We probably did 3,000′ of up and 3,000′ of down today. It was really exhausting and I had to concentrate hard on pushing forward. Pinchot was only 1,000′ or so vertical feet up from where we camped. We were probably the last ones to leave camp as I had some clean up to do.  Thanks flow if you know what I mean. Ah the joys of camping.

Something amazing happened on our way up to Pinchot Pass. A very large, rather fat, white-tailed Jackrabbit (Lepus townsendii)  bounded into the middle of the trail and just looked at us.  He twitched his nose and bounded up the trail a bit and then looked back at us again.  Kevin claims this was magic trail bunny (MTB) and he was telling us that we could “do it”. Kevin even went so far as to say MTB was my spirit guide. Thanks MTB for believing in me. I sure believe in you.

Mt. Pinchot
Morning light behind Mt. Pinchot
Mt. Pinchot
Mt. Pinchot

I think we summited Pinchot Pass before 10 am.  We had the pass all to ourselves.  We split a snickers bar, took a bunch of pictures and started our way down. The basin to the south looked like a moon scape. Really incredible.  This basin drained to the Woods Creek.

Pinchot Pass
Looking north from Pinchot Pass. Lake Marjorie Down Below.
Pinchot Pass
Looking south from Pinchot Pass.
Pinchot Pass
Looking north from Pinchot Pass


Pinchot Pass
Giant Basin
Pinchot Pass
Looking back on Pinchot Pass.
Mount Cedric Wright
Mount Cedric Wright,12,362′

On our way down from Pinchot Pass we encountered a group of guys that hiked this loop every summer. They were from Texas, seemed a long way to come but they just loved the Sierras and said they wouldn’t miss it. At this point we have 60 miles left on our trip and only 4 days left.  I’m starting to feel sad that the adventure is almost over. Though the hardest part is yet to come!

On the way down we met up with Elizabeth who is section hiking the PCT by herself and meeting up with her boyfriend in a couple days.  She asked us if we had heard about “Bear Man” to which we replied “no”.  She then recounted a story for us that a crazy man was hanging out out around the Woods Creek Suspension bridge scaring hikers and stealing food. Apparently he even jumped a mule train, frightening the lead horse to throw the rider and he broke his leg. She was scared to hike alone (rightfully so) and asked if she would hike with us all day. Of course we let her.  The thought of bear man really crept into my head today. I was worried he was around every corner or tree. We had about 3,500 feet of down to hike to the bridge and we did it nearly in silence.  Sadly, Elizabeth slipped on a wet rock and landed hard on her hand.  She was bloodied up. I don’t think she broke anything but she was pretty shaken up. I blame bear man for this incident. I helped her pull her first aid kit our of her pack and clean out the cuts on her hand and bandage her up. We continued our way down the bridge and re-connected with the rest of our group and found a ranger. Yay ranger!  He confirmed that there was indeed a possible schizophrenic man running around the woods stealing food from campers. The ranger had an ace bandage and wrapped up her wrist as I’m sure it was throbbing. Poor thing; she had been out on her own for 35 days without injury and on her last day before meeting up with her boyfriend she hurts her hand. Elizabeth decided to camp at that junction along side some other women who could help her assemble her tent. We headed on to regain the 2,500′ of elevation we lost earlier in the day to hit Rae Lakes for camp.

The whole bear man thing really threw us. I don’t think we stopped for lunch but ate snacks as we hiked to keep moving. We have no pictures of the Woods Creek Suspension bridge or our descent through some pretty amazing scenery. I swear the rocks were green and pink in some locations! Just overall an odd day.

Arrowhead Lake.
Fin dome Painted Lady
Fin dome and Painted Lady in the distance.
Rae Lakes and Painted Lady
Rae Lakes and Painted Lady

We were pretty relieved when we made it to Rae Lakes and could just hang out and enjoy the evening.  Dylan managed to catch some fish in the lake. Though he couldn’t get his stove to light so he couldn’t cook the fish :(.

Dave had a bottle of whiskey that he passed around as we ate dinner and told stories. Karl was leaving the trail the next day through Kearsarge Pass to Onion Valley for rest days in the real world. We joked that he was going to order a pizza and hide under the covers of the hotel bed.

Tomorrow is Glen Pass at 11,926′. We have less than 40 miles left on the trail. Steve, Kevin and Dick pulled out a bunch of maps and we plotted out where we would camp the next three nights. We are going to do one 14/15 mile day and then two 10 mile days. If we pushed really hard we could be out of the trail earlier but we are kinda gated in by these large passes.  We have enough food to last us another 5 days if need be which is a good spot to be in.

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Jessica Cross

Marketing Nerd. Lover of Star Trek. Eater of Blueberry Clif bars.

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