July 14, 2016
I awake still feeling like crap. Eyes are still swollen but less so than yesterday. Legs are still tired and not looking forward to climbing another 4 miles. Overall, this sucks!
For the past 25 years I have always spent at least a full week in the wilderness during the summer. Most summers there were multiple outings that added up to 3-4 weeks of overall outdoor time. Each trip always creates an excited anxiety during the planning phase which in turn makes me want to leave that day. Each trip always fulfills my desire and need for solitude; a complete check out of work, bills, phone calls/emails. My mind clears, my stress wains, my life is simple. There is a very spiritual connection I have during these trips. I always feel content and reborn when I walk out of the woods before walking back into the daily grind. Unfortunately, that feeling goes away pretty quickly due to the stresses that ‘civilized’ life puts on me. So, I start planning the next adventure to take my mind away.
So far, this hike is not anything close to providing that feeling. It’s a chore and not keeping my interest. It’s just one foot in front of the other, grinding it out mile by mile. I am looking forward to getting up top and getting into the Marbles. Beautiful section of trail coming up and am hoping it will provide so well need attitude adjustment.
The morning started out with climbing in and out of a burned forest. Trail signs were either polished metal from the incineration of the paint or brand new wooden signs that look like they have been replaced within past few weeks. This fire was a very hot fire. The only thing left on the ground was sterilized gravel soil. All the duff layer that would have covered the ground was completely burn off. It will be interesting to see how long it takes for the succession species to re-establish and a new forest to grow.
Once on the ridge a few limited views pop up to the distant mountains as the trail passes in and out of burn areas. I stop at Buckhorn Spring to top off my water and have a morning snack. An awesome campsite sits under a large multi-trunked fir. I wish I could have made it here last night as it would have beat my gravel parking lot site.
Then the trail really opened up and offered great views of King’s Castle, Black Marble, the Trinity’s Shasta and back to the north at Devils Peak and yesterday’s hike. I know I have said this before, but one of the most fulfilling aspects of this trail is when you can look forward or back and see the miles you are about to cover or where you came from. It is amazing how many miles one can walk in a day an event more amazing when you can take in a view retracing those steps from afar.
I stop for lunch at Paradise Lake. A group of 8 backpackers had hiked in from the trail head a couple miles downhill. Their camp was well set up with a lot of amenities…I noticed the cast iron skillet and had to chuckle. Paradise lake is a beautiful spot with King’s Castle looming above. The landscape is lush and filled with green. I took a longer lunch, layout my pad, air out my feet, eat a simple lunch and bask in the shade within sight of the lake and the peak rising above. I wanted a nap, but wasn’t quite tired enough to actually fall asleep. I did feel good to just relax and take it all in.
At 3pm I am back on the trail heading south. The next few miles offer a very beautiful section that cannot be missed. The trail skirts around the east side of the Marble Mountain in and out of lush green valleys. I take a short break at the Forest Service Cabin in Marble Meadow and manage to make it a full 20 miles today. The afternoon was feeling much better with 10 miles in after lunch. The scenery seems to have made a positive change in my disposition.
I pass the 600 mile mark north of Sonora Pass and 100 miles since Siskiyou pass. I make my own little trail marker out of rocks and sticks.
I reach a camp site around 8pm to find that a NOBO hiker had jus
t set up his cowboy camp. I back track a hundred feet, find a level area set up my space. I had dinner on a rock ledge overlooking summit lake/ Shackleford drainage – the forest was washed in brilliant orange light from the setting sun.
I am now 8 miles behind my pre-planned schedule. I am going to have to start making up some of those miles in the next few days. I make a mental note to not be as aggressive on the miles for next year’s planning and try and give myself a little wiggle room.
17 thru hikers, 1 section hiker, 8 weekend campers