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Re: Kearsarge Pass/Glen Pass/60 Lakes (pics)

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avatar Kearsarge Pass/Glen Pass/60 Lakes (pics)
August 09, 2015 09:45AM
The last week of July I did two eastern Sierra backpack trips, this is the first one, a four-night trip from Onion Valley over Kearsarge Pass, to Charlotte Lake, then over Glen Pass into the Rae Lakes, and westward over the ridge to 60 Lakes Basin.

This was during a dry spell between monsoon pushes, giving excellent weather except for the day I left (Thursday) when at least I got back to Onion Valley before any water started falling. So, mostly it was the Sierra's normal awesome summer weather. There were a few flowers out but they were mostly past their "peak". There were very few mosquitoes to bother with on the trip, though the flies were a little annoying between Onion Valley and Kearsarge.

Gilbert Lake, on the east side (pictured on the way in). It made for a nice swimming stop on the way out, though it was the coldest of the lakes I swam in (lots of water flowing from upstream, I guess).

Eastward view from Kearsarge Pass, with Big Pothole Lake in the foreground, the Owens Valley, and the Inyo Mountains beyond.

Westward view from Kearsarge, with the Kearsarge Lakes and Pinnacles, and Bullfrog Lake:

I spent the first night at Charlotte Lake, which is a bit crowded, but the trees and ground seem to provide a decent number of campsites without looking at your neighbor.

Just before Glen Pass on the south is a pretty little unnamed lake:

Small pond, and Painted Lady Peak, from the beginning of the 60 Lakes trail:

Looking into the 60 Lakes Basin:

60 Lakes Basin, Mt. Cotter on the left, Mt. Clarence King on the right:

Another of the "60 Lakes", with the 60 Lakes/Gardiner saddle:

The 60 Lakes Basin was much less crowded than the other areas I hiked. However, I also managed to get an area to myself at the Rae Lakes by camping on the opposite side of the lakes from the trail. With no T-Storm chances I camped on top of some granite on the west side of the middle lake and had great views:


and Southeastward. Mid-afternoon, one can see how Dragon Peak got its name:

Returning, back to Glen Pass and the view of the Rae Lakes:

View of Charlotte Dome:

Looking up the upper Bubbs Creek valley towards Forester Pass:

Bullfrog Lake. No camping here, but if its not on your way (I was hiking to Kearsarge Lakes so it was), and the weather's good, its worth a detour:

Kearsarge Lakes:

avatar Re: Kearsarge Pass/Glen Pass/60 Lakes (pics)
August 10, 2015 10:32AM
I've been to Kearsarge Pass, but I really need to go through to the other side one of these days. Thanks for posting.
avatar Re: Kearsarge Pass/Glen Pass/60 Lakes (pics)
August 10, 2015 10:54AM
Very nice...and it does look like you nailed the weather!

Wondering why Charlotte was so crowded? When the wife and I were there a couple of years ago it was just us and the rangers. JMT folks?
avatar Re: Kearsarge Pass/Glen Pass/60 Lakes (pics)
August 10, 2015 11:03AM
I'd been once before a few years ago and the Rae Lakes Loop is pretty popular. In addition there did seem to be a lot of JMT hikers.
Re: Kearsarge Pass/Glen Pass/60 Lakes (pics)
August 10, 2015 12:29PM
Very nice trip report. I love the Kearsarge Pass area, and the Rae Lakes- though I do not love Glen Pass....
Charlotte, the Rae Lakes and everything close to the JMT will get crowded this time of year, but Charlotte is big enough
that there is always space. Come back after Labor Day for quiet- and frost.

Looks like a good trip. Thanks for the pictures and the report.
avatar Re: Kearsarge Pass/Glen Pass/60 Lakes (pics)
August 10, 2015 06:40PM
Thanks. As I mentioned, I also found a non-crowded site at Rae Lakes - just camped on the opposite side of the lake from the trail. But yeah, if you're through-hiking the JMT and trying to cover miles, you likely won't walk 1/2 mile around a Rae Lake when there's a serviceable site close to the trail.
Re: Kearsarge Pass/Glen Pass/60 Lakes (pics)
August 11, 2015 02:33AM
Just curious.
Are there bears there? Do you use a bear canister?
Kearsarge Pass/Charlotte/Rae Lakes was my first backpacking trip 40+ years ago when I was 13.
We didn't hang or otherwise protect our food. Drank directly from rivers/streams.
avatar Re: Kearsarge Pass/Glen Pass/60 Lakes (pics)
August 11, 2015 06:09AM
Bear canisters are required along the entire Rae Lakes loop, as well as the Inyo NF side of the Kearsarge Pass trail.
Re: Kearsarge Pass/Glen Pass/60 Lakes (pics)
August 14, 2015 05:10AM
There are definitely bears there, and a times the Kearsarge Lakes have had an aggressive bear.
I have a scratched up bear canister to show for it- but the canister held up and I still had my food the next day.
I would treat the water too.
Re: Kearsarge Pass/Glen Pass/60 Lakes (pics)
August 14, 2015 10:46AM
I remember we ran into a group that had some of their packs ripped up by bears. When did bear canister become prevalent?

I definitely treat/filter the water now. I wonder if back then we didn't know as much about giardia, or that people just shrugged it off.
Re: Kearsarge Pass/Glen Pass/60 Lakes (pics)
August 17, 2015 11:27AM
I first saw bear cannisters in about 1993, and bought one right away.
They have made, in my estimation, a huge impact. In the 90's I used to
be hassled by bears at night, routinely. Now I seldom see a bear in the backcountry.
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