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.
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:
Red Mountain Heather.
Close up of poppies…
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.