Unnamed lake below Glen Pass to Middle Paradise Valley
(17.7 miles, +700/-5,300 feet).
We got up this morning and had to say goodbye to our lovely little lake.
The 700 foot climb up to Glen Pass was relatively easy on fresh legs in the crisp morning air.
We stopped at the pass to take pictures and eat some breakfast. For me it was milk (well, Nido) and cookies!
The trail down the north side of Glen Pass switch backed for a few hundred feet, then flattened out to pass through some tarns where more wildflowers were in bloom.
We then made our way down some gentler switchbacks to the southernmost of the Rae Lakes.
Wow! These lakes were even more beautiful than I thought they would be. It’s no wonder they are so popular that the Park Service only allows camping for one night in this area.
We made our way across the stream connecting the middle and south lakes and found a nice spot for a break and a snack.
We then made our way between the lakes, taking in the most spectacular mirror lake Sierra views that I have ever seen.
As if that weren’t enough beauty, there were also brilliantly colored wildflowers.
We continued our descent to Arrowhead Lake, which on any other day would have been the highlight, but I didn’t even snap a single photo of it after taking so many at Rae Lakes.
Eventually we arrived at Dollar Lake, where we lunched and swam.
After lunch the trail started dropping faster, from 10,200 feet at Dollar Lake down to 8,500 feet at Woods Creek.
At Woods Creek on the John Muir Trail there is an impressive wooden suspension bridge with a sign that warns “One person at a time!”
Shortly after the bridge we turned off the John Muir Trail to hike along Woods Creek.
Just above Castle Domes Meadow we met some hikers who said they saw a bear in the meadow. We were very excited and somewhat tentative as we continued down the trail. Once we got to the meadow we scanned all around. Some parts were in high grass with low visibility, so every now and then I called out “Yo, bear!” But we saw nothing. We passed the meadow and gave up searching, when suddenly we saw him!
An adolescent bear was napping under a tree in clear view of the trail. Half Cookie called my attention, and the bear picked up his head lazily to see what was going on. Unimpressed, he laid his head back down and dozed off.
After that, the trip was all downhill, both literally and symbolically. Although it was a nice change to walk in the verdant forest understory, as we got lower, it got hotter and buggier. We even pulled out our mosquito head nets to use towards the end. We ate a quick dinner in Upper Paradise Valley and then finished up with 1.7 miles down to Middle Paradise Valley where we set up the tent and dove inside to escape the mosquitoes.