27 July 2016
My Rae Lakes Loop Adventure - Day 3
In my zeal to get through Days 1 and 2, I wasn't as careful as I probably should have been with my steps, so I made a few bad ones along the way. And to prove it, I woke up on Day 3 with a very tender ankle.
I also woke up at first light, around 5:30am, since I had opted against putting the rainfly on the tent. Got a beautiful view of the stars that way, and the cool night air was really refreshing.
So I got busy preparing to start my day... and had my first cathole experience. For the uninitiated, if you're going to go to the bathroom in the wild, you have to dig a 6-inch hole, do your business, and then cover it up again with dirt. Yes, it's as gross as it sounds. But hey, backpacking isn't about luxury accommodations, it's about connecting with nature and yourself in a completely different way than when you're surrounded by modern conveniences.
The Woods Creek campsite was a much busier, friendlier place than Middle Paradise Valley, and I'd gotten to meet quite a few people there, which was great. On my way out, I dropped by one of the tents to say goodbye to a couple friends I'd made, only to be surprised with the ultimate newbie honor -- after hearing my story the night before, they had decided to give me a trail name. What is it? You'll just have to wait for the video to find out. (I know, I'm such a tease!)
Fortunately, my ankle was holding up as well as could be expected. Part of that, I think, was because I switched things up and made my left foot my lead foot. It's a subtle change, but it made a big difference. Not as big a change as, say, going from right-hand dominant to left-hand dominant, but it still took some getting used to. Just another one of my newbie trials and tribulations.
After leaving Dollar Lake, I was treated to one beautiful water vista after another. First, Arrowhead Lake, and then the Rae Lakes themselves came into view. And surrounding them, some of the hike's most magnificent rock formations, like Fin Dome.
Little did I know what would await me the next morning...
Final stats: 7.24 miles in 6:13:33, with a net elevation gain of 1,873 feet.