Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Rae Lakes Loop Part 2: Middle Paradise Valley to Woods Creek Crossing

Middle Paradise Valley to Woods Creek Crossing: 9 miles - 1,584 feet elevation gain

Passing through Upper Paradise Valley, you'll come upon a bridge. If you're with someone, let them go ahead and take a picture of you on the bridge below the steps. It's an awesome photo op with spires of granite as your backdrop! After coming down from the bridge, the trail will continue on your right. If you didn't fill up with water before leaving camp, best to fill up now, it'll be a while before the next water source.

The trail continues on through and we enter again into the thicket of trees. As the trees started to get sparse, a series of switchback came into our view.

We came across a fence made of wire and wood while climbing up a switch back and questioned if we were trespassing on something, but there was no gate, just an open part of the fence for us to go through. Guessing, it was to mark park boundaries. Maybe. Since we came across another of the same fence not too long after. I felt we entered and exited someone's property. And if it was, what an awesome place to live! I imagined. The valley before us now came into view and camp should just be past the meadow. But the trail seem to go on forever.

Castle Dome Meadow was pretty. If only there was enough shade to rest under in! On our 2013 trip, most of the trees and brushes around were singed. Remnants of a previous fire, maybe or lightning strikes. The Castle Domes stand as granite walls to our left as we trudge along the trail to Woods Creek Crossing.

One of the best thing I loved about this hike was its abundance of bridges! Small, big and ones you can't stop marveling at. And by far, my favorite of all wilderness bridges was this hanging bridge at Woods Creek crossing. Turning right at junction to head south, where Woods Creek Trail meets with the JMT/PCT, we were to cross the hanging bridge to our camp site. The bridge was a bit trippy and hella fun to walk on, especially during our first time!

After crossing the bridge, camp sites abound and bear lockers. One bear locker can easily be found just on the left side of the trail and one or two more can be found off the trail to the right. Though one of those two stank of horse manure and I've come across a horse post not too far from it.

This is where we started meeting several thru-hikers since our route now has met up with the John Muir and Pacific Crest Trails, so there is a lot of access to this area coming from the west and the east side of the sierra. The area gets pretty busy. Folks hiking through, some setting up camps, others taking their breaks waiting for hiking friends and hikers helping hikers take their photos with the beautiful bridge.

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