August 23, 2014
John Muir Trail (JMT)
Day 20 – Twin Lakes (10,890ft) to Rae Lakes (10,560ft) via Woods Creek junction (8,510ft),
Camped near Sixty Lake Basin junction.
Woke to calm blue skies. As we eat breakfast the sun rises over the facing peak lighting the campsite and taking the chill off the cold morning air. Glowing peaks reflect in the still lake waters. The skies were to remain clear blue for the rest of the day without a thought of a cloud.
From the ridge where we were camped the trail descends rapidly past Twin Lakes and Sawmill Pass junction. Still descending we emerge from the forest on the cliff above Woods Creek.
The shallow waters tumble down rugged slabs then wide smooth slabs interspersed with deep clear pools. For once we are walking with the sun behind us and towards the beautifully lit landscape.
After passing by the valley we assume from the map that will next climb, the trail suddenly switches back to make the final descent to Wood Creek junction (8,510ft), the low point of the day. “Crazy bridge”, as one passing hiker calls it, is a one person suspension bridge that crosses the creek at the junction. From here it’s all uphill to Glenn Pass.
The first four miles, now walking into the sun, is hot and dry through open forest and brush land with the best peak views behind us. Here we gain most of the day’s 2000ft elevation change.
Near the end of this section with just clear blue skies in front of us it looks as if we will run out of mountains. Suddenly we climb up and over one last ridge and enter Rae Lakes Basin with picturesque lakes framed by rugged peaks.
A magical landscape, the gentle, uphill trail contours a couple of lakes starting with Dollar Lake and ending at Rae Lakes where we look for a campsite.
We find a sandy spot with great lake views just past the Sixty Lake Basin Trail junction at the end of Upper Rae Lake, saving the final steep two mile push to Glen Pass for tomorrow morning. The wind picks up as we are setting up camp but dies long before dark.