Sunday, December 28, 2014

Marble Mountains

Mr. Green, Freebird, and Celery at Etna Summit.
Mr. Green gave us some soda and we took in the views... what we could see through the smoke anyway. He refused our money and told us that he hasn't accepted payment from anyone. There were a few that tried to hide some cash in Mr. Green's car but failed, like Monkey Wrench, the thru-hiker who gave us lots of food in Sierra City. Mr. Green found the money and returned it to him.

Mr. Green went off ahead of us on a short hike, as far as he could go. Now was the perfect time, and he would just have to accept some cash for once! Freebird slipped some money in the cooler once Mr. Green left, then we began the trail, trying to walk some distance away from the car. We passed Mr. Green as he was returning, thanked him, and grinned as he made his way back to the road.

8/3-4/2014 Started in Etna, finished at Fisher Lake in the Marble Mountains. Title: "Freebird."

We witnessed a glorious sunset that evening, just before finding a campsite near a spring. Afterwards, Freebird set up his tent and I "cowboy camped" on a ridge with an incredible view to the west. We ate dinner and were about to go to bed.... and then we heard thunder in the distance. 

Soon the gentle north-easterly breezes rapidly shifted westward and increased in strength. I panicked. Every weather source had told us prior to setting out in the Marble Mountains that the winds weren't forecast to blow in this direction. Now the Log Fire, which we were told wasn't going to be a threat, was due east of us, and I imagined the flames spreading toward us. It's understandable that there can be error in human predictions, but I was really doubting our divine intuitions that led us here as well.

I broke camp and wrapped all my belongings in my poncho tarp, then climbed in the tent with Freebird. He had no fear through all of this, speaking words of comfort to me based on what 
we've been reading in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. I was still too afraid to comprehend any of this at the moment. Then he added, "Just pray about it." I could barely do
that even. Though still dwelling in fear, I somehow managed to drift off to sleep...

Within a few hours, I woke up to hear the sound of gently-falling rain against the tent. 
Relieved that the wind calmed and blew to the northeast again, and that we 
were not burned to a crisp, I fell back asleep.

In the morning, I was haunted by the previous night and had doubts about continuing. Returning to Etna was still an option at this point. But after praying about it, intuitively we felt that we would make it to Seiad Valley safely and that we were meant to be here at this moment.

So after breakfast, we kept hiking northward.

A sign that a black bear is nearby.

Freebird went for a swim in beautiful Fisher Lake, while I sat on the grassy 
shore in the sunshine, making a design out of dogwood leaf prints.

We made a few friends at the water's edge!

Being at Fisher Lake all afternoon was paradise. We were considering camping there, but when some thru-hikers arrived, we hadn't set up anything yet. They kindly asked first before they claimed some spots. So with nowhere left around the lake, we moved on, looking for another sufficient campsite.

A baby bird along the trail. We waited at a distance to make sure the parents returned, and they did.

As we walked higher up in elevation, the wind picked up, the temperature cooled, and we began to see "cloud falls," clouds rising up and plunging over ridges. The only campsite we saw for miles was completely exposed and windy. There were a few more-sheltered exceptions, but they came with some presents from horses that we didn't really want. It was a bit discouraging, wondering how long it would take to find another suitable location. We thought Fisher Lake would've been perfect. 
But again... we didn't camp there for a reason, which we would realize soon.

We switch-backed up a ridge to become completely immersed in the cloud falls. It was cold and very windy, but I was so in awe of the whole spectacle that it didn't bother me. Now it mattered not to me when we would even get to a campsite. Any traces of fatigue vanished as I approached the situation with joy. It's amazing what happens when our perspective shifts to one of gratitude.

Once we reached the top of that ridge, this view was on the other side. A beautiful blue lake 
visible just below the cloud cover. I was already jumping up and down for joy because of 
cloud falls, but upon seeing this I was ecstatic! The views would continue to be like fireworks 
as we walked the whole evening.

To the west as the sun went down, a blanket of clouds covered the whole valley.

That blanket rose over the mountains and descended down through the conifer forests.

What a spectacular evening! We found a campsite on a section of old Pacific Crest Trail and decided that we would wake up early to watch sunrise. Something told us it would be very worth it...

We just didn't realize how memorable and unique it would be!

We woke up before the sun rose and climbed up the ridge to find the perfect seat to watch 
the show unfold. Looking to the east, the Log Fire smoke filled all the valleys. 
Smoke and sun would mix to create a show that most people never witness.

Continuing our walk for the day after a perfect morning...

Freebird playing with a butterfly.

This mother grouse jumped out on the path in front of us and tried to distract us 
from her babies. They weren't very good at hiding themselves though!

One of her children.

The baby tried to follow her and exposed itself completely! The mother wasn't too thrilled about this.
Marble Mountain in the background, made out of granite and marble.
We walked downhill for awhile and met a camp of teenage boys in a meadow. They had been exploring Marble Mountain Wilderness for a few weeks and spelunking in caves. The counselors, Bird and Benton, told us that we just passed one along the trail and offered to show us where it was.

We returned to the meadow and thanked everyone for showing us the cave. Who would've thought we'd go spelunking on the trail? What a fun experience! The boys then said farewell and began parading down the PCT to another campsite, Bird playing a ukulele at the end of the train.

Marble Valley Cabin.

More caves!

Another incredible sunset! We kept walking into the night, the trail softly 
illuminated by the moon, until we reached a lake and found a campsite.

The beauty of this lake would be a pleasant surprise in the morning...

Doing laundry near the shore.

A lush spring.

Ants carrying off a piece of tortilla we dropped during lunch. One of them decided to go for a ride!

Doing more laundry, throwing clothes in the "dryer."

There was so much diversity in Marble Mountains that I was amazed. We walked through an old forest fire burn alive with new growth and vibrant fireweed, and then we reached a lush forest of conifers, deciduous trees, ferns, and waterfalls.

At some point I was walking by myself, immersed in the silence other than hearing a few bird songs. I was looking around the forest in deep gratitude to not only be experiencing this surrounding beauty, but also that of the entire Marble Mountains Wilderness... and really the entire journey so far. I remembered when I was bed-ridden two years before and could barely even stand up. Now I was backpacking hundreds of miles through the west, something I never believed I would do. I skipped and ran down the trail, singing, laughing, and praising God for everything. I felt such child-like innocence, like I was looking at everything for the first time. I can't recall the last time I felt like this. 

As I continued to run downhill, winding back and forth through lush ferns and waterfalls, I cried tears of gratitude. What a blessing to be here, to be experiencing such peace and love in my heart! 
I experienced a surrender to God that I can't explain in words. Nothing mattered to me anymore other than doing His will and loving others. Right then I truly wished that everyone could experience happiness like this, wherever they may be.

I sat in reflection at this waterfall while waiting on Freebird.

Grider Creek. We took a swimming break here.

A Stellar Jay feather on the bridge. We found another one at our campsite just along Grider Creek.

The following morning, we began our last day of walking this section. 
We would make it to Seiad Valley that evening.

Big Leaf Maple.

One of Freebird's favorite trees from this section.

Upon reaching the edge of the wilderness, we went swimming under a bridge one more time. There was a comb resting there, the third and final one I've seen since I bought that comb back in Quincy. Thanks for to God for another reminder that He provides, and a good laugh!

After cooling down, we got back on the PCT, which became a road walk.

Blackberries and green apples everywhere!

Along the road was a hat, with a cute surprise waiting inside! I exchanged hats and wore this one into Seiad Valley. I would only wear it for a few hours until we found its owner in town.

A bald eagle flying above the Klamath River!

The eagle, while searching for a meal in the river, sent the geese into a panic!

As we walked along, houses began to appear. They soon became closer and closer to each other. Signs of "civilization." This donkey was grazing in a nearby pasture.

Crossing the Klamath River.
In a few miles we would be walking into the town of Seiad Valley.

1 comment:

  1. Another great blog, with AHMAZING PHOTOS, TY!!!!!