Independence to Rae Lakes (788.5 to 793.5 + 7.2 miles back to PCT from Independence)
Daily miles: 12.2
This morning I woke and felt weary. For the first time on this hike I really just wanted to lay in bed and not move. I walked to the bathroom and looked at myself in the mirror. My beard looked crazy, and I had dark circles under my eyes. I overdid the eating last night and felt pain in my abdomen and a good dose of nausea. Not my finest morning.
I pulled myself together and got everything packed, but I couldn’t bring myself to eat breakfast. I walked out into the blazing hot morning since Independence is near the desert and there’s a heat wave going on in California. A quick walk to the post office to mail some gear back that I don’t need, and then stand on the curb and stick my thumb out for a ride 15 miles back to the trailhead.
I get a hitch within a couple minutes and will myself not to throw up on the winding, steep road back to the mountains. Back up over Kearsarge, feeling better as I go, but still taking it slow.
Mid afternoon finds my appetite returning, thankfully, since I haven’t eaten all day. I sit by Bullfrog Lake and eat a bar, eventually deciding to go up and over Glen Pass today as well. So a 2 pass day to start this most rugged section.
South of the pass there’s water covering the trail, turning it to a stream. Loose rocks everywhere I try and set my feet. At the base of the pass is a lake set deep into the earth, deep blue and mostly frozen over.
The trail crosses some easy snow fields and then pitches up until I’m standing on top, the Rae Lakes shimmering below.
The way down is tricky as the trail is lost to snow and loose talus. I make my way slowly, using hands and elbows when necessary. Halfway down is a long glissade, which is when you sit down and slide down the side of the mountain. It’s fun and takes some time off the descent, but it gets everything all wet with snow.
At 6 I’m off the mountain and back among the lakes, Fin Dome rising over the lake. I talk with some John Muir Trail hikers which is a nice change of pace because the only people I ever see are PCTers. The mosquitos aren’t too bad yet and the sunset is great, so I enjoy a peaceful evening next to the water and stay up until it gets too cold to sit outside anymore and I retreat to my sleeping bag.