July 15, 2016
I was up early and on the trail by 6:30. My neighbor was up and out before sunrise as I am noticing a trend with these leading group of thru hikers. My eyes are pretty much cleared up and now covered in dry flakey skin. The itchiness swelling is gone…thank god!
The highlight of the morning was passing above Man Eaten Lake and through the narrow rocky pass in the heart of the Marble Mountains. Very picturesque. I take a quick snack break at the pass when I notice a backpack sitting on the side of the trail, but the owner nowhere in sight. After about 10 minutes 2 young hikers come back up the trail. They are looking for their friend who must have taken the wrong trail a mile back. After another 5-10 minutes the friend comes scurrying up off trail happy to meet up with his buddies and joking around about how he was not looking forward to being lost.
Once again the scenery did not disappoint as I passed by a few emerald lakes. Great views southeast towards Shasta, and looking back to the north of the pass I just walked through. I got into a groove and plugged away towards Etna Summit.
Two things were on my mind. One was a bear can filled with food sitting under a log at Etna Summit and Two being a couple beers my parents stashed with it. I was looking forward to a beer but not looking forward to the bear can. I still had a few days worth of food in my pack and was going to add to that plus the weight of a bear can. I was not eating as much as I thought. I thought I learned my lesson from a couple years ago when last year’s food planning was perfect ending with one extra meal and an ending weight of 18 pounds. I easily had a 25 pound pack right now and was going to add 10 more pounds of food in a few more miles.
I pass an older section hiker who asked if I had seen ‘Turtle’, which I did two days ago on Girder Creek. She was hiking in to meet him and hike back to Etna Summit with him. She let me know she had just dropped off a case of beer under a tree at Etna and it may still be cool by the time I get there.
At 5pm I am at Etna Summit. A northbound section hiker had just reached the road at the same time I did. She popped out onto the road and did not pass the beer stash. I give her the info and she was delighted to drink a beer. We stood there and chatted over a semi cold can of Bud. She caught a ride down to Etna and I found food stash and 2 more beers. I sat next to the radio tower bunker and repacked my pack with the extra weight. A nice 90 minute break and 3 beers later, I kinda just wanted to stay here and continue on up the next climb. I grabbed 1 more beer for the road and used it like a carrot. I had to push on a few more miles and the incentive was this beer that I was going to drink once I get a camp set up.
The climb went fast, I had an awesome view back towards the days progress at sundown. The Marble Mountains in silhouette with a perfect view through the pass I squeezed through early in the morning. I take a short break at the top of the climb by sitting on top of a rocky cliff above Smith Lake to watch the shadows of the mountains I was sitting on stretch out over the Scott Valley. Mt Shasta looming off in the distance glowing orange as it was one of the last pieces of land that still had sunlight reaching it.
A near full moon was shining bright and I pushed myself to do the last 3 miles as a short night hike into Payne’s Lake. The lake was fairly crowded with multiple tents on the northwest side of the lake. I found a level space on the east side and made a quick set up. I made some dinner and savored my road beer.
I managed to make my mileage goal today, but am still 8 miles behind schedule. I slept well, I think the night cap helped in that department.
12 thru hikers, 9 section hikers