Hiking from Seiad to Etna Summit on the PCT: Part 2— I Photograph Bigfoot, and Peter Pan… The Thousand Mile Trek

Marble Mountain. This may not be the type of marble that excited Renaissance Sculptures, but it obviously caught the attention of the people who named the Marble Mountain Wilderness as it does people who hike the area today.

I am stuffing myself. Today is my last day to cram in the calories before I hit the PCT again and I am bone-showing skinny, skinnier than I have been in about a thousand years, give or take a few. “Eat!” Peggy commands, and I eat. Bring on the half pound hamburger.

Today I am focusing on the second half of my trek from Seiad to Etna Summit, Section Q as it is defined on the PCT. I’ve just left Paradise (as in Lake), and what the heck is left after Heaven. How about meeting up with Bigfoot and his partner Peter Pan. Once again, I’ll be using the photograph format for my post.

I meet Truckee near Big Rock. “My trail name is Truckee,” he informs me, “because I live in Truckee.” Good reason. Truckee was raised in the California Central Valley city of Stockton but returned to the mountain town of Truckee so often he moved there. Having lived in Stockton’s sister city of Sacramento, I was forever escaping to the mountains.

Following Truckee south as he disappears into the distance, I come on Black Mountain, the partner to Marble Mountain, as dark as it is light.

My next landmark is Big Rock , a huge chunk of Marble that resides near the PCT giving both a creek and campsite its name. I wonder if it rolled down from a nearby mountain or was deposited here by a glacier.

I meet up with a snowpack and see Truckee’s trail racing across it. I follow in his footsteps.

I work my way around a marble rock face…

And find this hole. Water dissolves marble as it does the rock it derived from, lime, often leaving caves and holes in the ground such as this.

I catch up with Truckee again filling his water bottles at this small stream…

He introduces me to Uphill. “You need to talk with this man,” Truckee announces. Like me, Uphill (Mark Bowden) is blogging about his PCT experience. “Back home,” he explains to me, “I blog about hikes along the Appalachian Trail.” He is out of Atlanta, Georgia. “I retired one day and was on an airplane west the next.” Two days after his retirement he was on the PCT. His blog is http://www.uphillhike.com. “Be sure to say hi to Dirt and Rye when you meet them,” he admonishes me.

I thought Christmas when I saw these firs and then apologized to them about my evil thoughts of turning them into Christmas trees.

I’ve rendered the Marble Valley Guard Station in black and white given its historic status. Years before I had hiked through here and even then it seemed old.

There was nothing old about Dirt and Rye who came into the meadow as I was eating lunch. I had to ask about the names. Dirt had Dirt tattooed on her knee. There had to be a story, which I didn’t hear. Rye was a baker, so rye bread was the answer. The girls were sisters hailing from Southern California.

The Guard Station also had a great view of Marble Mountain.

Another perspective.

A creek, running close to the ranger cabin, was filled with butterflies on its moist sides.

A close up of one of the butterflies.

There’s great water down here,” I heard piping up from below the trail after I had just finished a long climb. “Come on down,” they urged. “You must be the 75-year old blogger.” (They’d run into Truckee.) And thus it was that I met Bigfoot after searching for him for years. He wasn’t nearly as hairy as I expected. And what was he doing running around with Peter Pan? And since when was Peter Pan a girl? It was all more than I could grasp. “I tried to persuade him to take the name Tinker Bell, ” Peter Pan told me with a laugh. No deal. Turns out that this delightful couple is from Palmer, Alaska. They had worked for the National Outdoor Leadership School for decades and are dedicated outdoor adventurers.

I detoured off the trail that night to camp at Cold Springs, which I shared with a frog.He didn’t drink much.

The view from the springs the next morning.

The trail to Etna Summit continues on, providing stunning vistas:


Welcome water…

Colorful flowers…

Red Mountain Heather.

Marsh Mallows…


Close up of poppies…

These beauties…

A member of the composite family…

And this strange fellow.

Closing with Spirea.

I continued to meet through-trekkers hurrying on their way north. Very few travel north to south, the direction I am traveling. Some pass by with barely a grunt of recognition as they run their unending marathon. But most have a smile and a hello, and many stop to chat. Hiking the PCT is much more of a social experience than I ever imagined.

The PCT has become a major attraction for hikers from all over the world. This is Oscar from Birmingham, England.

Caveman from Austria stopped to chat. “This trail is incredible,” he told me. “We have nothing like it in Austria or Europe.” It is a refrain I have heard over and over again. I flashed on the Sound of Music, however, and broke out with a not so stirring rendition of “Climb Every Mountain”. He laughed. “I guess I need to see the movie again.” I apologized for my breaking out in song. “It happens all the time,” he assured me. My girlfriend is an opera singer.”

Ridge Route and Short Cut were from closer to home: San Diego. Ridge Route explained to me that Short Cut got her name because she was just over five-feet tall. It didn’t seem to slow her down.

There are times when the trail seems to go forever on, like it will never end…

But eventually, through trekkers come to another trail head, another opportunity to resupply, another opportunity for a cold beer, hot shower and good food. For me it’s the view of Peggy waving excitedly, and our van. I am ever so lucky.

The cold beer comes next.

41 thoughts on “Hiking from Seiad to Etna Summit on the PCT: Part 2— I Photograph Bigfoot, and Peter Pan… The Thousand Mile Trek

    • The air is quite refreshing— except when there is smoke from forest fires. Ah, well, it comes with living in the West now. Of course we are sharing the beer. Hop on out here. 🙂 –Curt

  1. Hello dear friend. Just a note to say that the photos are excellent, I enjoy meeting the folks you are meeting along the way, had a tear for the beauty of the fir trees, and I laughed at loud at the “75 year old blogger” designation. My best to you always.

    • It is quite the experience, out here, JoHanna: the beauty, the people, and the difficult physical challenge. And the fun. You have to laugh at the situations. I got up in the middle of the night a few days ago because a deer was taking far too much interest in my clothes that were drying on a tree. I was pretty sure something would be missing in the morning. Appreciate your following along. Lots. –Curt

    • Good question! I have met several thru hikers at my resupply points while waiting for Curt. So far….Wanderer, Graybeard, and Outlaw. Not sure which one will stick! As I understand, the treckers he encounters will eventually determine the best choice…or maybe…a different name! Hmmmmm

  2. I experienced a HUGE thunder, lightening, rain storm in the middle of the night. Brilliant flashes of light, thunder that shook the van, eventually knocking out power in this RV park. I imagine Curt will have a story to tell about this one!

  3. There are more people out there than I was expecting, but frankly I’m quite relieved to see that. I had visions of you being in a wilderness alone!! And hoping your memory isn’t failing you, Curt – Peter Pan has been a girl on Broadway since Mary Martin. I wonder what she’d think of Big Foot! 🙂 Continue on safely my friend.

  4. I am delighted to be following along with you.You are looking quite trim in that last photo. I could easily give up a few pounds, but I lack the conviction to talk my aching joints into sleeping out in the wild. Love the folks you’re meeting out on the trail. We’ve run into quite a few encounters with outlanders when we hike sections of the Pacific Coast Trail. Mostly very interesting folks. Stay safe and healthy! Sending a big virtual hug to you and your trail angel.

    • Skinny, Gunta! 🙂 Peggy roars me around feeding me each time I come out. Fun to be able to eat anything I want, and as much as I want— a habit that will have to be broken as soon as this is over. (grin) Characters galore out on the trail, as you can imagine, but really nice people. Soon, most of them will be beyond where I am hiking as they scurry north. Thanks. –Curt

  5. Love all these tales about the people you meet along the trail. And their names are so cool 🙂
    The beauty is stunning. I liked to read about Truckee always escaping Stockton and the valley for Truckee and finally settling there. I’ve been to Truckee and I totally get him.
    Your photos are gorgeous, as always. You’ve an edge: nature is so photogenic!
    Cheers to that beer and your journey!

    • Nature is definitely cooperating in the beauty category, Evelyne! And I love the people. Sadly, their numbers will drop off dramatically soon. Those hiking South to North (I am going north to south) have to be beyond where I am to reach Canada before winter storms start! Thanks for following along. –Curt

      • When hiking I find it equally great to walk lost in my thoughts and nature or to bump into people and strike a conversation. Wow! I didn’t think of the time frame if you go North!
        Enjoy the beauty and be safe!

      • Thanks, Evelyne. There is lots of time for contemplation out on the trail! Conversations ten to be short since I am hurrying south while almost everyone else is hurrying north. 🙂 But conversations do happen. –Curt

  6. Curt, a real joy to be part of your journey, even if only remotely! I love the brief snippets of your fellow travellers, and even Oscar from Birmingham! Ahh…I can just imagine how your heart sang on seeing Peggy (& the beer). Fantastic photos as always … it all looks soooooo tempting!

    • So glad you are along, Annika. It is an amazing trip, hard, but filled with beauty and interesting people. PCT hikers are a unique breed. And Peggy is a true trail angel, as people who provide support to through-hikers are known. She is really enjoying the experience. Thanks! –Curt

  7. Rocks, mountains, and water – and people wonder where the idea for abstract art comes from. Beautiful – intriguing pictures.
    (I was in Truckee, but didn’t see Truckee…great find of friends along the trail …perhaps tattoo came from”how old are you little girl?” “old as dirt” which will be true eventually? Oh, Mary Martin was Peter Pan in an ancient BW version of that)
    Hope you managed the storm without problem.
    We’re waiting to see what trail name sticks to you. thanks for taking us along

    • Laughing, Phil. Another friend reminded me of Peter Pan being played by women, a fact I had totally forgotten. My trail name is now set, you will find it in my post that went up today. (Grin) Really neat people along the trail, and, as you noted, great beauty. Truckee has made it home and has already commented on my posts. Thanks for joining me along the trail. –Curt

  8. But remember Curtis, that Peter Pan has been played by a female actor for many years, usually someone small and agile. Keep on trekkin’!

    • I depend on you Leslie, for reminding me of any details that relate to plays or musicals! 🙂 Thanks. Peggy is going to be ready for that ice cream Sundae. Must say, she has turned into quite a trail angel and gaining a reputation along the PCT. –Curt

  9. Curtis!!! Great writing. Glad you are still trekking. I have been done for a week and at home in Truckee! ;). I will follow you on your hike…

    • Tyler/Truckee… Great to hear from you! Thanks. I’ll be heading into Lassen National Park tomorrow. So I am moving along. 🙂 Albeit not as fast as my younger compatriots. Fun comment from Mark Condit. Thanks for sharing and following. –Curt

  10. Beautiful countryside, once again. I’m impressed with how many older folks you seem to be running into, I always figured long distance hiking was a younger person’s game. Y’all are making me feel lazy and out of shape!

    • Laughing, Dave. There are lots of folks out here in the 50-60 category and I have run into several in their 60s. Numbers fall off quickly in the 70s although I have met four besides myself! You asked about my trail name earlier. It’s official: I am Wanderer. –Curt

  11. I’ve had to severely cut back on my blog reading and commenting, but I just could not resist a good long hiking post! Curt, this is so inspiring … hoping maybe someday I can try something like this!

    • Thanks for hanging in there with me, Lexi. Although I have backpacked for years and years, hiking the PCT is a unique experience, both from the miles travelled and the people I meet. Each trail section I will do one long post. Any others will be shorter photo essays. 🙂 –Curt

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