A Limb with Tusks, Plus More Impressive Rocks and Trees along the PCT near Ebbett’s Pass

I didn’t spot the tusks on this tree limb until I checked out my photos. There’s no doubt which is the dominant creature here! Or maybe they are just snuggling.

Peggy and I had lunch yesterday with Barbara and Carl, the couple that dropped us off at Mt. Ashland for the beginning of our trek south down the PCT. It was the first time I had seen them since the beginning of the adventure. There was a lot to tell.

Naturally, I talked about both the challenges and the rewards of backpacking for 700 miles over difficult terrain at 75. I also discussed how 50 years of backpacking had prepared me for the trip, and threw in a few of my more humorous adventures from those years. They will be in my book.

“Knowing what you know now, would you do the PCT hike again?” Carl asked.

“Absolutely,” I replied. This doesn’t mean I will forget just how hard it was. It’s an important part of the story. But the beauty and the nature of the adventure are what will stick in my mind. I once had a woman who had been on one of my hundred mile treks tell me it was one of the most difficult tasks she had ever undertaken. But in the end, she said, it was an incredible, life-changing experience. The pain faded; the experience remained. “The only thing I can equate it with, Curt,” she had related, “was having my first baby.” Ouch, and then ‘Oh my!’

For the first 25 years or so of my backpacking, I hadn’t carried a camera. Those were the days before you could expect to obtain quality photos from a small camera, and I didn’t want to add the extra weight to the 60 pounds I was already carrying. I was also reluctant to spend the time that good photography required. And often I was leading groups that demanded my full attention.

I am sorry now. “I can’t believe you go to all of these beautiful places and don’t carry a camera,” my father had told me time and time again. He was right. I wish I had those photos now to remind me of where I had been and what I had seen. But there is more. Photography helps you see the world in different ways. It encourages you to focus in on details you might miss, it helps you notice the differences that light and varying perspectives make, and it forces you to stop and look around.

Today’s photos pick up where my last post left off, hiking down the PCT from Carson Pass on Highway 88 to Ebbetts Pass on Highway 4. The first four illustrate the value of stopping and looking around. They are all of the same scene from different perspectives.

Once again, there were towering cliffs to admire. These were framed by hemlocks.
A closer look showed junipers growing beneath the cliffs. A tiny moon appears in the upper left.
And my telephoto brought the moon into perspective with the cliffs.
While another photo featured one of the junipers standing tall against the cliff.
One of the magical things about following a trail is that you never know what you will see next. It’s a thought that forever pulls me on. The PCT made its way around a large snag here and disappeared into the woods.
I was assured that the views would just keep coming.
The smoke did more than hassle my lungs; it also provided some interesting photos as it filtered the sun. This juniper is an example.
And another smoke filtered scene.
As might be expected from my last post on the PCT through the Mokelumne Wilderness, there was no end to magnificent rocks.
Rounding a bend I came on a new view with a juniper, rock and open area leading to a distant peak.
This perspective had the intensity of surrealism. I could see Dali carefully painting the rocks in the foreground and adding a melting clock.
The contrast between a juniper and rock guaranteed that my camera came out.
And then I was treated to my first view of Mt. Reynolds.
I’ll conclude today with this view. I loved the contrast.

NEXT POST: Variety, being the spice of life, it’s back to Mexico.

30 thoughts on “A Limb with Tusks, Plus More Impressive Rocks and Trees along the PCT near Ebbett’s Pass

  1. With your pictures, our imaginations can run wild. We all see these images with different eyes. Like the one you thought Dali would add a melted clock, I saw a natural Stonehedge and the mountain you captioned as ‘Wow’, I saw a frozen Oriental temple.
    Your book is going to be huge!

  2. Wonderful photos as always Curt.
    When I read travel blogs, I console myself that we can’t see everything. But your PCT hikes make fighting off the green devil envy more difficult.

  3. I find such aliveness in the trees, their bare branches stretching out like arms to the infinite. The rock formations are so unique and striking. It’s as if each one of these elements has its own personality.

  4. Perhaps it’s for the good you didn’t have a camera the first time(s) around. You got a fresh experience each time, and this time you could look with new eyes, seasoned with the old experiences.

    And we get to enjoy it too.

  5. There aren’t words for how awesome, truly, these photos are. I understand your father’s point in expressing a desire to “document” the places you had been, but another way to look at it is that you were FULLY present. And I agree with what you’ve said about photography, but you got to have an experience that became engraved into your soul with or without photos.

    • Arguments I’ve had with myself, for sure, Sylvia. There was a time I would have argued that photography takes away from the experience of being here now. My mind has changed, obviously. I have a sense now that photography keeps me more focused on my surroundings. Anyway, regardless, I’ve come to enjoy photography and working with the photos to capture the beauty of an area. Thanks. –Curt

  6. I like that story about the woman who did the 100 mile trek. It really sums up what happens when we step out of our comfort zone and live life.
    Incredible scenery and fabulous photos.

    • It’s a story I’ve heard over and over, Alison— not about the baby, but about how the trek could be a life-changing experience. And thanks on the photos. The scenic beauty certainly helps. 🙂 –Curt

  7. With the smorgasbord of never-ending mouth-watering photos of your travels, Curt,. I almost feel like a travelling tourist on a cut price trip. You are most generous sharing your experiences making them part of ours.

  8. Curt, my first reaction to your lack of camera in the early years echoed your father’s words of ‘“I can’t believe you go to all of these beautiful places and don’t carry a camera,” But then I realised you’ve more than made up for it with all the fantastic images since!! The one with the moon and the rocks here is truly awe-inspiring.

    • Thanks, Annika. And considering that I have some 80,000 on my computer now, It’s probably a good thing I wasn’t taking photos. 🙂 The 80,000 have depended on the digital age, however. In the old days of film and processing, the costs would have exceeded my budget by several times, I am sure! –Curt

  9. I cannot get enough rocks and trees. More gorgeous photos here. You already answered my question, which was going to be “Isn’t that a moon in the first photo?” Nicely done here. All of them. I’m glad you are writing another book. It will be a lot of work for you to sort through all of it. All the photos, all the memories.

    I love your new look here, btw. What’s driving me crazy is that I can’t find a “next post” link. So for people like me, who are many posts behind, but want to read, then like, then comment; I have to click your main blog, then scroooolllllll down to the post, click it, and read it. Then when I want to go to the very next post, I have to go back to your main blog, then scrooolllll down to the post and click it. I haven’t checked, but is there a place in settings where one can turn on and off the option to display a link to the previous post/next post? (or maybe just tell me where it is, if I’m not seeing it)

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