After having such an incredible experience with my brother at Yosemite’s Merced Lake High Sierra Camp last summer, I really wanted to return with Stephanie. We entered the lottery last September, but didn’t get picked, so in February I pieced together a partial loop for Labor Day Weekend from among the dates that were still available. We chose the “Meals Only” option, which meant we got to enjoy the same amazing, homemade meals as all the other guests (while saving us from having to carry food and cooking supplies), but we had to bring our own tent and sleeping bags (instead of staying in the tent cabins).
Originally this was the only backpacking trip we’d planned for the summer, but of course the PCT happened, and then we managed to squeeze Rae Lakes into the July 4th weekend. I’ve been calling it “The Summer of Backpacking”. Along with our trip to Oaxaca in May, it’s the first summer in a long time that’s actually felt like a summer.
Once again, we drove to Tuolumne Meadows (Stephanie’s third time this summer), where we’d begin our hike to Glen Aulin—on same section of the PCT that I had hiked with my dad back in June. Since we drove for 5 hours and then hiked for 6 miles that first day, we had smartly decided in advance to spend two nights in Glen Aulin. We used our “rest” day in between to hike out and back to Waterwheel Falls on the Tuolumne River. On day three we hiked to May Lake and spent a night, on day four we hiked to Sunrise and spent a night, and then on day five we hiked the John Muir Trail back to Tuolumne Meadows, spending a night there in a tent cabin, and availing ourselves of their glorious showers! All told, we hiked roughly 39 miles, almost the same distance we covered at Rae Lakes, but split over five days instead of four.