Step out of the history that is holding you back. Step into the new story you are willing to create. – Oprah Winfrey
I sleep in a wee bit because I am so cozy comfy warm and I’m letting the sun dry things. Of course, in this deep canyon that will take an eternity, so I brace myself and put on my wet pants.
It’s actually not too bad because the temperature is not cold, or maybe I’m getting used to being uncomfortable on a regular basis. Both Jay and G-Punk saunter by as I eat breakfast and pack. I ask Jay if it’s just me, but I hear conversation and music in rushing water. He says he’s not sure about anyone else, but he only hears water – and says it put him right to sleep last night.
It’s a long climb out of here, and the hope is that the overgrown plants are below me. I hear Beethoven again as I move up what is at first a gentle ramp. I meet a man walking down brushing his teeth. The sun is coming out and it appears the rain is over.
I reach sections where the plants are indeed overgrown, needing some attention by a trail crew for sure. But I’ll use the term ‘panty waist’ for a second time to describe hikers who complain about this section for its ‘bushwhacking.’ It’s hardly that. The trail isn’t obscured, it’s just bushy. I invite these hikers to give New Zealand tramping and ‘bush bashing’ a try and I’ll bet they’ll feel mighty lucky with the PCT standard.
Speaking of lucky, the rain was steady for several hours and has saturated the ground. The temperature is mild with a cool breeze. Perhaps this will keep any wildfires at bay. At the least it’s fabulous hiking weather. A pileated woodpecker loudly laughs somewhere in the forest.
The mountains are blanketed in white cloud, thimbleberries are damp against my pants, which are now clean. In fact, everything feels fresh, tiny droplets hang like jewels on every leaf. I enter the Marble Mountain Wilderness and remember Kate’s trail name is ‘Bar None’ because of her determined spirit. Sadly, millennials don’t know the expression and think instead she’s a party girl, a bar nun. Sigh.
I’m up around 6,500 feet but feel so high here because I’m now walking on exposed ridges with few trees. There’s a tiny piped spring just below the trail and I drink up before a few more climbs. The views ahead into the wilderness show at first, a very dry and rocky area followed by green meadows.
I sit under a huge Jeffrey Pine on a rock high above a saddle I’ll soon cross. I feel like a mountain lion surveying all. A woman slowly walks towards me and I see it’s ‘Colleen the Machine’ a woman I met in Oregon. We walk together through this rocky section of rust tones where crews have built stairs and talk our way to a stream for lunch.
Colleen is the second person I’ve met going to Antarctica to work. It’s actually her second time and she drives a bus, twelve hours a day, five days a week. It sounds grueling and the pay isn’t great but she gets to experience a place like no other in the world. Because the season is October to April, many people work there, save up, then return to thru-hike.
She tells me she might be through with thru-hiking because she can’t stand how rude people have become. I have met so many wonderful people, but, like Colleen, there are those so focused on their hike, no one else matters, they feel entitled, with awful, inconsiderate behavior.
It all makes me kind of sad, so I head on so I can camp near water which is a long way ahead. The water locations are a bit inconvenient and will have me either stopping too early, carrying water to a dry site or a walking all day. I opt to try and get to the little stream still about fifteen miles from here. It does amaze me how far I walk in a day, but everyone seems to manage long distances on these ramps. It still takes me my entire day. Walking is a full time job right now.
And that’s not to say I don’t enjoy it. The trail moves in and around huge cirques with the trail mostly sidling on a balcony walk looking out on mountain vistas. It does go up and down, too, and can tire me out. I come closer to Marble Mountain. Weird gray rock appears to be melting and also like someone is using it to sharpen their knives.
I climb up and away and see mountains ahead with lots of snow. Marble itself is a bulbous pile of gray rock, huge and regal, like a ship’s prow. As I come out on the ridge, a man approaches and I ask if he’ll take my picture. “No.” Well, I tell him, it will cost him in chocolate to proceed. We banter a bit – and he does take many photos of me being silly with the Marble behind. He is stunned I have no trail name because, he tells me, I have so much personality. His is ‘Monarch’ and I sure wish we were hiking in the same direction.
I have still a long way to go, so say goodbye to this cool guy and press on, Spectacular views open up of mountains set up like cards to be shuffled. Even dead trees are stunningly beautiful against an azure sky. I can’t trust my sense of time and the hike seems to go on and on, but still so lovely. Though, even at this altitude, I hear the tinkle of bells and spy four black cows in a meadow. From here, I need to climb up steeply on loose rock. At the top, Shasta makes another appearance.
But I can’t pass over here, so the trail sidles a ways, then goes up a very steep ramp to another view into glacial lakes surrounded by boulder fields. It’s looking a lot like the Sierras here, granite swooping steeply down. But again my trail can’t pass over so heads down on switchbacks – way down until practically meeting the lake before it sidles again around this giant cirque of pointy crags and finds a wee opening to push through on switchbacks.
Once over, it’s down into crumble granite and meadows – and, at last, a wee stream. I get water to drink right away, then decide to set my tent right nearby as the sky is turning pink. I wash my dusty toes in the ice cold water and make dinner. The stars are bright, the milky way too, and I am curled in for a well deserved sleep.