Monday, May 27, 2013

60 Lake Basin

Frost blanketed the outside of our tent, and a thin layer of frozen condensation lined the inside. With no schedule or obligations for the day, we decided to stay cocooned in our warm sleeping bags until the first warming rays of the sun crested the eastern ridge and touched our tent. "Beautiful doesn't seem to capture it," remarked Sierra when we finally crawled out of the tent to enjoy the view of rugged granite peaks and the thumb-shaped Finn Dome bathed in soft, golden sunlight and reflected in the still, clear waters of Rae Lakes.

After a leisurely, hot breakfast, we decided to pack up to explore 60 Lake Basin, just over the next ridge. The trail to 60 Lake Basin traversed around the far side of Rae Lakes, then climbed past several seasonal streams and across a few large slushy snowfields before cresting the ridge. From there we descended to the first lake in the 60 Lake Basin.

Numerous lakes dot the rocky granite basin, with hardy grass encircling each one. Short, scrubby pines are scattered throughout. We crossed a rock bridge to a small island surrounded by clear waters that revealed the lakes tan, sandy shoreline quickly transitioning to deep greenish blue depths. The imposing pyramid of Mount Clarence King was reflected in the lake.

A bullfrog croaked a serenade as we ate our lunch. Then we retraced our steps back up the ridge and down to Rae Lakes. A lone coyote stretched by the lakeshore, loping away up the ridge as we approached.

After a relaxing lunch in 60 Lake Basin, we decided we wanted to climb Glen Pass to avoid climbing it early the next morning, when it would be icy.  We quickly scrambled up the soft snow, carefully following the tracks of those who had gone before to avoid postholing.  Once we reached the pass, the trail briefly followed the snow-free ridge before descending the other side. 

We hiked another mile before finding camp on a sandy, snow-free ledge overlooking Charlotte Lake and the surrounding basin.  After another frosty night, we woke Monday morning and headed for home.

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