Day 2: Rae Lakes Loop, Kings Canyon National Park

Added on by taylor reilly.

The next morning we awoke to the river having rose about 6 inches from the rain, and appeared murkier than from the day before.  The cold river water called us to jump in for a morning refresher, so we each took turns holding our breath and submersing ourselves. After rising out of the freezing water laughing and reenergized we packed up, crossed the river, and hit the trail towards the junction with the John Muir Trail (JMT) and Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) that share the same route.  At this junction we would turn south and head towards Dollar Lake below Rae Lakes, where we had a permit to camp that night.  Along the way to the junction we passed under towering walls and domes of granite like the Castle Domes.  The Castle Domes were an amazing site to see, and I daydreamed of a long epic big wall climb up one of them some day in the future.  Getting to these big walls while hauling heavy big wall climbing packs would be quite the undertaking.  Not like stepping off the shuttle in Yosemite.  A climber would have to fully commit just to approach these big walls in the backcountry of Kings Canyon over a two-day uphill hike. Then make their ascent and descent.  Backcountry Sierra Nevada big walls are no joke, seemed to be serious business, and I loved the idea of making an epic ascent there.

When Danielle and I arrived at the junction of the John Muir Trail and Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), we couldn’t have been more excited to step foot on the two famous trails, especially along this part in Kings Canyon.  This was important to both of us and we felt that we had made an accomplishment just getting to them.  We turned south on the JMT/PCT and quickly arrived to a classic style, hanging footbridge that crossed the South Fork of the Kings River.  The bridge design and its construction were very cool to me and took me back to scenes from movies like “Indiana Jones” and “White Water Summer”.  After taking photos we crossed the bridge, and headed south towards Dollar Lake where we would camp that night. 

Exhausted, hungry, and ready for bed we setup camp at Dollar Lake.  I had eaten too much sweet food and not enough salty snacks during the day, so my blood sugar level and electrolytes were off balanced.  The day was hot and humid from the recent low-pressure weather we were having, so I had sweated a ton and was dehydrated also. We thought by packing lightweight organic fruit, granola, and nut bars that we were making the right choice on our food selection, though we hadn’t brought enough savory salty snacks. I lied down next to the lake in the dark feeling nauseous, sick, and without energy while Danielle made us dinner.  I started vomiting profusely into the lake, and then I heard Danielle scream in frustration and start crying, because she had knocked over the stove and pot of food.  Instantly giant black ants that were covering the ground overtook the food on the ground and Danielle salvaged what she could in the pot.  I was sick and she was upset about losing half our dinner.  I crawled up to her and let her know everything was cool and to not worry about the food. She looked at my pathetic face and we both started laughing about the situation, and realized that everything was going to be ok.  We started to eat the mac and cheese and black bean dinner, and as soon as I took the first bite I felt better and energized just enough to crawl to bed and call it a night.  I needed to pay more attention to snacking on the trail the next day and needed to lay off the sweet snacks.  A better balance of salt and sugar, and a lot more water was what I needed.  Sometimes even experienced backpackers such as us could be humbled by nature and the toll backpacking takes on the body.