JMT Day 21: Rae Lakes Swim & Climbing Glen Pass

Sunday 9/12  7:44 PM DAY 21  12.39 miles  📍 Vidette Meadow

Journal entry: What a day. What a day. Charlotte Ranger station saved my JMT trip! I didn’t have to hike an extra 15 miles + climb Kearsarge Pass-twice, just to get more food lol! Their hiker box was stocked with ramen and instant potatoes! Perfect. Can’t believe I made it all the way here tonight. Probably the latest I’ve set up/stopped. I jumped in Rae Lake before climbing Glen Pass this afternoon. That was pretty amazing. Glen Pass- Idk I wish I could- no, wait- I don’t wish, I’m happy to say that Glen wasn’t all that bad. Something happened when I reached the pass. It was windy, but I really enjoyed my time up there. Of course, I was the only one hiking up from Rae Lakes. When I got halfway down I saw a group of 4, then 2 heading up. I believe they’re just doing the Rae Lake loop. Which GOOD for them! I didn’t realize Glen Pass would be a part of the loop. I saw the most people today. 5 already before getting to Rae Lakes. 6 heading up after I left. A group of 5 camping nearby up like 2 miles. Total like 15 ppl today. Pretty sure cause of Kearsarge Pass. It’s a popular entrance. The weather was beautiful today. Pretty hazy once I got up and over Glen Pass. Camping Vidette Meadow tonight. Right by the creek. Peaceful + tired. Maybe tomorrow will be shorter.

Story: Officially on the trail where JMT meets with Rae Lakes loop, and just as I thought- the trail is getting busy. I have seen maybe 5 people before 10 AM this morning, and I’m sure they are all headed towards Rae Lakes. It was a climb to Rae Lakes, but for the first time, I decided to just take it slow. There is no reason to rush. I will make it when I make it. And by doing so, I’m having a really great time. Sure, the climb sucks- but it is what it is, and there is no way around it.

Dollar Lake was beautiful from what I remember. There was a big group of 5 hanging out, so I didn’t care to stick around for too long. From a mile away, I could smell their sunscreen and perfumes- they couldn’t have been on the trail more than a day. I said hello and continued, and I could feel the stares on my back as I walked away. I’m sure I wasn’t the prettiest sight to see, and I definitely wasn’t the cleanest, but I guarantee you there were 5 sets of eyes on me as I passed them by.

Middle Rae Lake was way bigger than I imagined. I’ve always wanted to hike the Rae Lakes Loop in Sequoia National Park, but haven’t gotten around to planning it, so to be here as a JMT hiker- well, that was something special. It was early September, and the fall colors hadn’t started to turn, but there were signs the seasons were changing. It was a beautiful time to hike this area, and I couldn’t have been more grateful. I wanted so badly to stay a night here but knew I needed to get up and over Glen Pass to see if Charlotte Ranger Station had enough food for me to continue my journey.

I saw my first glimpse of Glen Pass from Upper Rae Lake, where I decided to stop and go for a quick swim before tackling the pass. Upper Rae Lake was just as amazing as Middle Rae Lake, but the view of the Painted Lady from Upper Rae Lake was something else. I had to stop and soak in the moment, go for a swim, and have some lunch before the climb. From what I was told, and what I remember from NOBO Tracey by Tuolumne Meadows- Glen Pass was not fun. It’s a long drag to the top with several false summits, but you’ll know when you make it to the top.

My dive into Rae Lake needs work, and you can be the judge of that, but I’m no professional diver- I just live my life. I felt good about my climb up Glen Pass. I believe it was this day that I decided to not pay any attention to my GPS map, and that really helped. Taking my time and soaking in the views and the journey. It was windy, and as I made my way up I could see hazy skies. It was very windy as I continued to climb, so I was hoping that the last lightning storm plus these strong winds didn’t start any new fires.

Glen Pass wasn’t too difficult. I actually enjoyed my climb. It was, however, very exposed- which made it a little scary. Ok, I was a lot scared. LOL. And the wind didn’t help much either. The final push to the top and the steps were half my size. Views from the top of Glen Pass were amazing, and of course- I was the only person there. Just under 12k feet, and very proud of myself.

Of course, making it up is only half the battle. What goes up, must come down. And it was down to Charlotte Lake Ranger Station. When I finally reached the junction for Charlotte Lake, I came across a sign from the ranger that as of yesterday, there was still plenty of food left in the bear box. That was great news and made me so very happy. It was around 4:40 PM when I reached the lake, so I decided to grab some food and try to make it down to Vidette Meadow. Charlotte Lake was absolutely beautiful, and if I didn’t feel like such a burden taking food from the bear box, I probably would have camped a night there.

As I hiked to the bear box I couldn’t help but think that I was on a treasure hunt for this food. I first have to go locate this treasure box (bear box) and then I don’t know what treasures are inside. So I had a little fun with this and I made my way to the ranger station and discovered the bear box. I nearly cried when I finally got it open. Instant ramen, mashed potatoes, mac & cheese…peanut butter, trail mix- and the list continues. My JMT journey was saved. I no longer had to hike 15 miles, plus climb Kearsarge Pass (twice) just to resupply more food. Thanks, Ranger Sam. Thank you Charlotte Lake Ranger Station.

The hike down to Vidette Meadow seemed a little longer than it should. I came across a junction to Bullfrog Lake and thought that would be a nice place to camp until I came across another sign not too far from the junction saying that there was no camping at Bullfrog Lake. Just my luck. Vidette Meadow, here I come. The views were something else as I made my way down. East and West Vidette mountains were lit up with sunset colors, making it a magical evening. I stopped many times to soak in the views only to realize that it was getting darker quicker than I liked, and I needed to make it down to camp before it got too dark.

Vidette Meadow must be a popular camping area since it is equipped with bear boxes. Or, Vidette Meadow just must be a very active bear area. Either way- Vidette Meadow is a very large, flat, and open camping area near Bubbs Creek, and sure enough- I was the only one camping there that night. It was the latest I had arrived at any camping spot, around 7 PM, but I was grateful to have found a decent spot, near the creek and to have actually made it to Vidette Meadow that day, logging in just under 12.4 miles.


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