9/24/14 We arrived at Rae Lakes early on the third day, setup camp, and then took a side trip to Sixty Lake Basin. A great way to extend the trip and add about 5 miles and 1,500' of gain.
1 First sun on Fin Dome. We woke up to 38 degree temps inside the tent. It was probably low 30s outside and the tent had frost and fully frozen ice droplets on it. Definitely a cold night.
2 Morning sun on Arrowhead Lake.
3 A little too much breeze for a perfect mirror, but still pretty close.
4 One last look at Arrowhead Lake from our breakfast spot, then we break down camp and head out. It's another perfect, cloudless day. The temperature easily rose 20 degrees as soon as the sun hit the lake.
5 Looking back at Arrowhead Lake as the trail continues up the canyon. We did not see a single human at the lake the entire time we were there yesterday and this morning.
6 Great views of Fin Dome throughout the morning.
7 The next lake along the trail, this one unnamed.
8 Our first marmot sighting.
9 Walking along the Eastern edge of the lake.
10 The lake at the base of Fin Dome. The peak is almost 1,200' above the lake.
11 Dustin skipping stones on the lake. Turns out he is quite the stone skipper. Here he gets in four hops.
For best performance, you can view the video on YouTube.
12 Great lake views everywhere.
13 First of the Rae Lakes. The larger, Northern lake. Just off the trail, you can get to a cliff hanging right above the lake for a gorgeous view.
14 We sat for a while and enjoyed the view.
15 Panorama of Rae Lake.
16 Hiking down to lake level along the Eastern shore.
17 Looking back along the lake at Fin Dome, now well behind us after having watched it get slowly closer for the last day.
18 Approaching the second half of the Rae Lakes, the smaller, Southern lake. The trail walks across the isthmus between the two halves of the lake.
19 There are awesome little islands in the lake.
20 The islands defintiely make this one of my favorite alpine lakes.
21 The large island in the middle would get stuck in Dustin's mind and become a prominent part of our afternoon.
22 Panorama of upper Rae Lake.
23 Dustin crossing the stream that joins the two halves of Rae Lake.
24 Looking at upper Rae Lake flowing into the lower half.
25 One lake flowing into the very beginning of the other. We had been looking for a campsite for a while now. We wanted to be on the upper Rae Lake so we were close to the junction of the Sixty Lake Basin trail and would have less mileage for the big climb up Glen Pass in the morning. There were very few possible sites in the area, but we found a spot right here. Was it too close to the trail? We didn't want to be those obnoxious guys setting-up our tent in plain view. But it was clearly an established site, and the spot was so amazing!
26 So we decided to go for it! Really close to the trail, but we only ever saw a couple people go by. Definitely an epic spot. We opted for the rainfly this time to stay a little warmer and help keep frost off the tent.
27 After setting-up camp, we left our packs behind, grabbed a couple bars and a water bottle, and then took a day trip out to Sixty Lake Basin.
28 Climbing above Rae Lakes on our way to Sixty Lake Basin. The pattern of lakes is almost surreal, seems like something out of a movie or video game. If you look really close, you can see our tent!
29 The perfectly framed backside of Fin Dome. Looks like some sort of High Sierra wedding chapel.
30 We make it to the ridge at around 11,200' and find the next lake in a small basin along the divide.
31 Over the divide and now dropping into Sixty Lake Basin. Another valley of beautiful interconnected lakes with amazingly clear, turquoise water.
32 Down to lake level.
33 The trail follows the lake to the outlet as the water flows out and down to the next lake below.
34 The trail fades out somewhere in this area, but we decide to scramble down to the next big lake.
35 Hanging out on the lake with noone around. There were little floats on the lake, which we learned later from a Ranger are part of an ongoing restoration program to kill off non-native fish.
36 On our way back now. We stop at the previous lakes and decide to go off-trail and walk across the narrow isthmus between the lakes.
37 Crossing the point in the isthmus where one lake just barely flows into the other.
38 Dustin decided to go a little further and scramble up a rock pile where he found another epic lake view (you can't see this lake at all from the other side). Proof again that a little extra effort and exploration usually pays off.
39 Now out of Sixty Lake Basin and heading back down to Rae Lakes. We're fascinated again by the pattern of lakes. Also a good a view again of that island in upper Rae Lake (on the right).
40 So about that island... Dustin had made it a goal to swim out to it and had been talking about it all afternoon. It's now almost 5:00pm and it's starting to get cold and really windy. The water temperature is REALLY cold. I doubt it was much out of the 40s. Probably not the smartest thing to do, but he was determined. And I was determined to only sit and take pictures! Here he is getting ready to start...
41 And he's on his way...
42 And he makes it! He scrambles up to the peak (in bare feet) and conquers the island! The return trip wasn't quite as smooth though. About half way back, the cold and fatigue really started to hit him. After a bit of struggle though, he was able to gather himself and make it the rest of the way. But he didn't look to good when he got out, and hypothermia was a real concern.
43 Video of Dustin returning from the island. I stop the video as he starts to slow down from the cold and fatigue.
For best performance, you can view the video on YouTube.
44 Back to our tent site as the sun is getting low. Dustin was shivering bad and looking pretty blue. I was more than a little worried. He put on every layer of clothes he had (including his down jacket) and stayed inside his sleeping bag for about and hour. Eventually he got out, jumped around a little to finish warming-up, and then was fine again. End to a very memorable day!