The hike downhill along Woods Creek was challenging. My legs and feet were tired from the previous day's exertions and I struggled with the uneven, rocky trail. Thankfully the first couple miles kept us in cool shade, but eventually the sun caught us as we dropped deeper into the canyon and the heat set in.
As with many previous days on trail, Dan hiked happily along and was thrilled to capture a few more unique wildflower species, including White Monkshood, White Bog Orchid and Whitestem Hedgenettle.
The next section of trail was some of the busiest we'd been on since leaving the Mammoth Lakes area. The Rae Lakes Loop is one of the more popular hikes in the Sierras. Most hikers take 5-6 days to complete the 41.4 mile loop.
As we made our way out of the Woods Creek Drainage, I made sure to turn back to look North at where we'd come from, admiring the unique colours and shapes of the peaks.
We stopped for lunch at Dollar Lake after having successfully hiked 8 miles, the most we had done in a morning. Looking across Dollar Lake we got our first view of "Fin Dome." We were also treated to some interesting clouds coming off the ridges and peaks.
We had pushed ourselves pretty hard that morning and I was feeling the efforts of our "reverse mountain." I was very glad to reach the main campground at Middle Rae Lake.
Getting to the campground by early afternoon gave us the best pick of sites, and we were able to find a beautiful south-facing spot on a rise above the lake.
Our afternoon was spent in intense relaxation. We swam in the lake, baked in the sun, fished, napped, and knit, all under the watchful eye of the Painted Lady.