We recently hiked the Rae Lakes Loop in King’s Canyon National Park. This area is known for its stunning scenery, and it didn’t disappoint. What we saw looked a lot like Yosemite, but without the roads and people. Massive granite cliffs, lovely chilly glacial lakes, alpine meadows with wildflowers, sweet waterfalls, the whole deal. There’s nothing better than being immersed in these things for a few days.
Especially exciting for us, the 48-mile loop included a section of the PCT. It felt great to be walking on a piece of the trail we’ll be encountering in 2012 when we walk the full PCT — although when we walk this section as thru hikers in June, snow will blanket most if not all of the trail. Then, instead of walking down the trail, we’ll glissade (slide on our butts) to the bottom!
On this five-day trip we continued the process of fine-tuning our PCT gear. We learned that Hypafix tape works better than duct tape to cover hot spots on feet, because it stays in place. Half Mile’s printed maps and GPS waypoints were accurate and informative. And we debuted our 1 oz pocket kite! It was great fun to fly, and we intend to grace many mountain passes with its lovely colors in the future!
On this trip, we used the Sawyer Squeeze water filter for the first time. It only weighs 4.75 oz., which is much lighter (smaller too) than our old Katadyn filter. Filtering water using the Sawyer Squeeze is a two-step process. First, fill up the dirty water pouch and screw onto the filter. Then, squeeze the pouch to force the water through the filter and into your clean drinking container. The surprising hiccup was the time and effort needed to fill the dirty water pouch, especially if you’re in slow-moving water such as a lake. The pouch has a small opening and is made out of a thick material that doesn’t expand easily so we found that most of our time “filtering” was spent trying to fill up the pouch, rather than actually filtering. Overall, we think the Sawyer Squeeze is a pretty good lightweight filtering system, but we are still looking for a better solution. We might try Sawyer inline water filters for our next trip.
Speaking of water, this trip was full of beautiful water vistas.
And if the scenery wasn’t enough, one morning while eating breakfast, a mother bear and her cub suddenly walked out from behind a tree, a few feet away from us. The mother was a small black bear, and the cub was quite tiny and cute. We were able to scare them off by standing up, waving our arms, and yelling. The mother made some harrumphing noises and sauntered off with cub in tow. It was great the bears moved on so quickly, because bears who become habituated to humans and their food often become dangerous and must be relocated or put down. Later that day, we encountered the same pair happily munching on berries, a much healthier food gathering technique than stealing food from humans.
This was a wonderful trip in so many ways. Thanks Becky for joining us on another adventure. Can’t wait for the next trip!
More photos from the Rae Lakes loop are posted on Chris’ Flickr page.
“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” – John Muir