Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Rae Lakes Loop Part 1: Road's End to Middle Paradise Valley

Road's End to Middle Paradise Valley: 8 miles - 1,596 feet of elevation gain

The trail starts with a very sandy stretch of a trail. Too excited of what lay ahead of us to be aware of how annoying it was, as it keeps sucking down every step we'd make. We would, however, notice it on our way out though!

It is about 2 miles until we hit the "Y" section (the end of the "stick" part of the lollipop, per se) , taking the left fork to Woods Creek Trail and leaving the left fork leading to a metal bridge towards Bubbs Creek Trail, for us to come back to. And from here it's a 2 mile climb up for our first real break at Mist Falls, where we'll also loose most of the hiking crowd doing their day hike to the waterfalls.

Mist Falls wasn't very "misty" July of 2012

More climbing had to be done before getting to our first camp site of the week, at Middle Paradise Valley. Past Mist Falls, the trail continues to climb up for about 1.5 miles before it evens out, giving a brief moment of respite before continuing on climbing up again.

Lower Paradise Valley, 2 miles from Mist Falls, is also an option to camp with a few sites and a bear box, but after arriving there in the afternoon without any sun shining through and it's thick with trees (and mosquitoes!), the place looks forlorn. A push for a couple of miles more along a flat terrain, the Middle Paradise was a better choice.

Ultimately though, Upper Paradise Valley was more ideal. It's a bit more open, has more than one bear box and 2 more miles closer to the next destination!

But we didn't want to shock our bodies for our first day and settled for midway through the valley. The camp site has one food lockers for everyone to use. A pit toilet is also tucked away somewhere to the west of the trail (north side). There was a sign pointing to its direction by the first camp site but we never got to check it out. And I didn't find (nor did I look for it) on our second trip.

Bears are also very active in this area. Bear proof your camp site and you should be fine! We got a visit from one who was much too busy rummaging the logs in quest for food, to give us much more than a glance. Probably helped that we were making too much noise and he deemed us more of an ear ache than food bringers. But in the midst of all the noise making we did, lots of photo-taking had to happen, of course!

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