Sierras Continued – Pt 2 & 3 Onion Valley to Woods Creek via Glen Pass and Rae Lakes

Oh adventure we have had. I’ve inherited one of my fathers faults and got our group not lost but misplaced. We are a mile down creek and on the wrong side. I thought we could stay on the right of Woods creek to avoid not only crossing a lake but multiple tributaries but I misread the map and we don’t even have to cross this raging, freezing wall of water. So, tomorrow morning we will walk back (bush bash back) to a large snow bridge to continue on with our journey as it should have been. Oppsie. 


Yesterday we climbed back over Kersarge Pass, it was gruelling and arduous. I went to high and came upon a number of exposed rocks. This meant having to take my crampons on and off again. By the time we reached the pass I was feeling pretty uninspired and over the day. However, we continued on down into the valley. Jamie proposed a huge day, apart from Sushi it didn’t really suit us and so our group has split. The fast boys speeding off, while Justin, Bruce, Perk and I made our way to a cute campsite and were settled down by 1.30 pm. Perk at one point had slipped and slid down the slope. He has cut the underside of his arm and elbow quite badly. 

Lunching


After lunching in the sun Justin and Perk soon fell asleep so Bruce and I went on an adventure which consisted mainly of washing at a water fall, and watching a mountain lion and bear fight….for real. It was nice to have the afternoon free as the snow had become a slush bucket. 


We woke up this morning warm, it had not been cold. I could hardly swallow. My throats was on fire. The raspy, chalked up sensation and a body which felt lifeless. I seriously considered on asking that we zero but as I began to move and roll out the morning routine I found some energy. The snow had not frozen and we discussed our option. Continue on as planned, zero and then turn back, or head to Sawmill pass and leave the trail earlier than expected. We pushed on, and up. Up, up, up to Glen Pass. The trail would gain elevation very steeply then open into a widening still steep but not vertical. Round a frozen lake we went then vertical up again to some exposed switch backs and up to the pass. My body found itself slowly. At first I was listless and breathless but by the Pass I had my energy levels back, this is further helped by a coffee Perk made me atop the pass. 

Atop Glenn Pass


And then down, down, down we went. We crossed to high and had to scramble down some rocks to a lower trail along the very very very steep backside of Glen. Bruce, at one stage slipped and fell. He yelled out and had self arrested a flash. 

Both photos coming off Glenn Pass


Led by Justin we very carefully walked down the mountain. Switch backing, ice axes digging into the snow, edging our way off the steepest drop I’ve ever walked across. The snowy drop keeping us on edge. Eventually we got to some rocks. Justin scrambled down, Bruce and I did a very steep and fun bumslide to the tracks below and Perk did a little of both. 

Looking back up Glenn Pass


Elated we regrouped at the bottom only to walk over the opening to another very steep drop down to Rae Lakes. Again this was a hair raising drop down. The soft snow catching our boots and our ice axes anchoring us to the mountain side. 


We had one more fast, steep buttslide which landed us pretty much at our first water crossing for the day. There were a number of hikers backed up along the Lakes edge. Some just went straight into the lake shoes and clothes still on. I had to repack my things to water proof them, mainly consisted of getting my bear box out of the middle of my pack and putting it on top of my pack, replacing its spot with my camera (it’s triple waterproofed) and undressing down to my undies. We crossed the slow moving but deep water easily. You went off a snow bank, crossed the water on rocks, pulled yourself onto a log, walked across it and scrambled up a muddy, snowy bank. It was covered in mud because at some point an avalanche had come through smattering Island we were now on with soil and trees. We walked for a while in our river shoes and undies until we realised there was a snow bridge for the next crossing. After a little bit we stopped and ate lunch, the place where I came up with the great plan. 


Instead of once again cutting across the lakes we skirted behind them trending across a large snow drift to a tree line. From here we followed solid soil down the river until we came to a large creek running into Woods creek. It was raging and difficult to bush bash along due to a lot of thickly growing dead silver birch. Their branches reaching out like tendrils grabbing at our packs. Luckily there is a snow bridge over this creek, it won’t last long and for our safety I hope it’s there tomorrow morning we crossed it with baited breath and pressed on. Not far though. As I took out the map again I realised my mistake. Strangely just as I did this we came upon a campsite. There is a fire pit and a bench seat. It seems odd and out of place on the wrong side of such a wildly running creek. By wildly running I mean endless white water gushing down stream like wild horses galloping break neck into a distant valley. It’s impassable, we will have to retrace our steps in the morning. We have also seen our first sign of Bears today. I saw a big, hairy patch in the snow where something had had a little itch, and Bruce saw paw prints. He is a little. It scared but I told him I’ve frightened off Bulls before so it should be fine. I feel ashamed and silly about my obvious mistake, but everyone has been very forgiving and in the end it’s all part of the adventure. 

Justin making himself a nest for the night

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