JMT: Rae Lakes and Glenn Pass

The JMT section from the Woods Creek bridge to Bubbs Creek features some of the most stunning scenery on the JMT: Rae Lakes and Glenn Pass.

JMT: Rae Lakes and Glenn Pass

Day 12 – 16.3 miles, 4575ft ascent

I slept in until 6:30 and had breakfast before heading out. The day started out in deep, dark woods, but the views started opening up as I gained elevation.

A path through a dark spruce forest
Wandering through the dark forest
Granite mountain views
The view back towards the campsite

The view along the creek up towards Rae Lakes and Glen Pass was spectacular in the morning light. I noticed brook trout swimming along the shore of Dollar Lake, but I wanted to keep going a bit further before taking a break.

A creek running through a meadow. A tall granite dome behind.
Above Arrow Lake

I crossed the creek at Arrowhead Lake on a small slippery log and stopped to fish the lake’s outlet for a while. I caught several small brook trout and rainbows in the clear blue pool spilling out into the meadow.

Granite dome
Fin Dome panorama

It was only a couple of miles farther to Rae Lakes. It was one of the most amazing places along the whole JMT for me. The water was deep blue and calm, reflecting the mountain walls on the other side. The lakes were teeming with trout, swimming along the shore looking for a bite to eat.

A lake reflecting the snowy mountain peaks behind it
The lower Rae Lakes
Rae Lakes reflecting the mountains behind them
A wider look at Rae Lakes
A small island in the lake
A small islet in the lake
The upper Rae Lake
Looking south from the upper lake
Turquoise, deep, water flowing
Crossing the upper lake outlet
A mirror reflection in the lake
Surreal surroundings

I would really have liked to stay there for longer, but a ranger I met said that there would be thunderstorms in the afternoon, which meant I needed to get over Glen Pass while the weather was still good. I’ll definitely need to come back to Rae Lakes sometime.

Barren, cloudy, and snowy rock landscape
Half way up Glenn Pass
Two hikers crossing an angled snow field
The last snow field.

The trail started climbing sharply after the lakes. The switchbacks on the upper half of Glen Pass were still covered in snow, which meant that the way up was scrambling on rocks. After an exhaustive push, I finally made it to the top, catching up with Robbie, who had pushed on when I stopped to fish.

Tens of switchbacks on the way down Glenn Pass
Everyone was in a hurry to get down from the pass
A trail through a dry lake bed
The Kersarge Pass junction

Dark clouds were closing in from all sides, so continued straight down without taking a break. Halfway down the pass, it started to drizzle. I pulled on my rain jacket as the rain intensified and hail started falling. We heard a loud thunder bang from the direction of the pass. We were glad we made it down before the weather hit.

Dark clouds over mountains
Dark clouds

The plan was to get close to Forester pass and camp by the last bear box along Bubbs Creek.

A small marsh with low pines, willows and white flowers.
Every once in a while the vegetation really reminded me of being back in Finland

Just as we got our tents set up, another thunderstorm rolled by and poured rain on us. I made myself a cup of coffee in the vestibule of my tent and relaxed while I waited for the storm to pass.

jmt rae lakes glen pass 18
Making coffee while waiting for the rain to pass

The clouds parted briefly, so I had a chance to wash my hiking clothes, but soon enough, a third thunderstorm rolled in, forcing us back into our tents.

After the final storm had passed, we got to see a striking sunset reflecting off the wet mountains. We headed to bed early, planning to wake up at 5 to ensure we’d get over Forester pass before any thunderstorms.

Early sunset
Late sunset

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