The Rae Lakes Loops is an insanely popular trail through Sequoia and Kings Canyon NPs, joining the John Muir Trail for about ten miles but ascending through sugar pine forests and above the treeline, up past shallow glacial lakebeds in the granite to the isolated moonscape that is Gardiner Basin. Raging Madness made it home again after more than fifty miles, seven thousand feet, and eight nights of ambition that started as reasonable adult sensible time and rapidly morphed into a more traditional perspective as we made hardcore progress in our second decade of collective existence.
Day 0 was hazy due to fires east of Fresno. RVs look more promising than they used to, especially if you can get one fitted with a stove and a semi-real bed. Diamox still an issue but soon to be discontinued group-wide. Day 1 had three snakes and a baby bear. The RM talent show individual heats of Bear-ricade (TM) packing culminated in a final televised round of champions Jin and Lindsay in a dead tie through the final sachet of coca tea that could be volumetrically forced in the available interstitials. Michael performed a multi-dimensional tent and shadow puppet show as his talent and made everyone cry from laughing so hard.
Day 2 my combined physical and emotional problem solving toolset consisted simply of moleskin and electrolytes but the physicists were confronted with explaining to Geoff the very persistent product visionary how we would solve the problem of replacing the photons that the Hamburgler caused to vanish. Marmots, lizards, chipmunks, and aggro deer.
Day 3 Scott woke up drowning in a down explosion and for symmetry I made it a point not to drown when I went swimming in Arrowhead Lake in the afternoon. The tobacco-chewing, ninth-generation Santa Rosan mule driver for Sequoia King’s Pack Train can be contracted online to resupply through-hikers of the JMT in the area near Independence, CA. Caught too many brook and rainbow trout to eat.
Day 4 todo list: Sixty Lakes Basin, repair pants, swim, watch Matt fly a big kite. RM Rule #1: Don’t Die, RM Rule #2: Look Up.
Day 5: from doubled over weeping on the floor outside my tent for an hour in the morning, to ascending more than 1700 feet and achieving the saddle point that FCC regulations prohibited me from describing over the radio to the cohort back at base camp. The photon replacement discussion continues and the iPod still has enough batteries to put me to sleep. Cleverly avoided hantavirus.
Day 6 to Charlotte Lake where we installed a camp solar system with the cooking pot as the sun, orbited by Sigg bottles of alcohol the inner planets, a comfortable thermoneutral zone of bear cans for food storage and sitting, then outer planets and bear protection from a ring of tents. A frosty morning but by this point in the trip we all know each other’s instant coffee preferences and can negotiate a hot breakfast with minimal conversation.
On Day 7 we finally found out what happens when we are together for longer than ever before: we run out of things to say, but watching Ethan et al throwing little rocks into a metal cup on the far side of the firepit is engrossing. Luckily, we had half a dozen more bears (cubs, a juvenile, two adults) invade our camp, so there was at least plenty of new material for discussion and Elisa believes in bears. Day 8, that perfect kind of High Sierra waterfall that people are always falling off because it seems so flat and serene and not a slippery churning death spire at all. Activating the mosquito defenses as we descend again to civilization where the buggers can breathe.
Back again to Fresno, where I have never in my life vacuumed up a cheeseburger as fast as I did at Swigg’s. Fueled by blueberry Red Bull, I drove Geoff and Irene back to SF and myself back to Berkeley, where I passed out for 12 hours of deep wonderful restorative fully-oxygenated sleep.