We didn’t leave camp this morning until 8, which means we didn’t wake up until 7, which meant that we didn’t breakfast until after 10. Even with being conscious of the miles we needed to get done and the heat of the day we seemed to walk slowly. I wish I had had more time through this section. It is so captivating and beautiful. The marble mountains lay before us, the Trinity Alps behind. Fields of wildflowers are strung out between rocky cliffs in which the trail snakes past. We breakfasted at a pond and before this for about half a mile where small, run away waterfalls cascading down the steep rocky faces and onto our path. The trail looked down into the tree line below and sometimes you could catch a glimpse of Mt Shasta. I had been feeling quite grumpy when we got to breakfast as per usual I had some foot pain and was ready for coffee. Ollie picked up on it and humoured me, enduring my snappy comments before we got to the place we where to stop. Sorry Bruce, sometimes Sheila’s get grumpy too. We kept walking after breakfast and happened upon the snow that everyone’s been talking about. It must have melted a lot because it was very small and we quickly joined back up with the trail. We climbed up and up and up. Short switch backs turned into longer ones and the ridge line opened out delighting us in a view of the surrounding mountain ranges.
The vista was hues of earthy oranges, blues and grey. As I walk the trail I am in wonder of natures aesthetic. Small, fragile wildflowers grow delicately between boulders and along the paths edge. They are growing in such a way as if it looks that they have been planted. Delicate Daisy’s of yellow and violet, white, and then other stranger flowers of brilliant orange or red and dark purple weave themselves together. They are only made more beautiful contrasted against the grey sedimentary rocks from which they are forever blooming out of. Butterfly’s of all varieties flutter in and out of the plants, across our path and rest beside the trail as we pass. There are tiny organge one, huge black and yellow ones, some with ragged wings and other medium sized one which are bluish. Bees humm past us, sometimes getting in our business and there is an endless chatter chatter of birds. I truly understand where that image of the birds and bees in spring time and summer has been conjoured from.
The climb down to the stream we would lunch at was on the wetter side of the range. Here flowers of grew up to our shoulders, as did green lush grass and a number of ferns. It was like walking down through a green cattle run. Narrow, with little vision either side and the impulsive was to keep moving forward. On the way we passed a dozen trail workers all dressed in uniform, working away at the encroaching lushness. We stopped under the shade of a huge pine to eat and rest. Taking my shoes off and washing them in the cool water was a welcome relief. We chatted and ate until Gary arrived on Mercedes. Gary is a horse rider completing the PCT, his wife Jeneane gave the girls and I a lift from Paradise Valley Cafe way back. They have a dog, Rose who I think featured on the blog. Gary rides Mercedes and Bege. Both Tenassee Walker mares trained by Gary. After chatting for a little bit he said did I want to have a quick ride. Yes, I said, of course. I mounted and had a little walk around. Mercedes is lovely and comfortable. She is responsive and soft. These horse are bred to walk. A mix of throughbred and pacer types they can walk up to 14, or 20 miles per hour. I can’t remember which one. I was aware we still had some miles to get done so dismounted, thanked Gary and we headed out. The ride had lifted my spirits, I walked along wishing I was horse riding and having a new eye for how a horse and rider might navigate all the fallen logs, snow and other hazards of the trail us hikers just skirt around. Gary caught me up at some snow and we were after rewarded with an incredible view. A huge rock slab allows us to stand on the edge of the ridge and look down to the valley below. Behind us, in the afternoon light a huge Rocky Mountain was illuminated. If you’re interested Gary has a website and blog http://www.garypegg.com
Ollie had fallen behind. Not only had he eaten too much at lunch and felt unwell, but his funky cord shirt was giving him back rub. He swapped it out for his old hiking shirt and caught up to me. We got over the snow and enjoyed the rest of the trail for the next 5 miles. It was very beautiful. More lush green corridors of ferns and flowers, more snaking trail along the edges of cliffs and more lovely views up into the range above and valley below. We decided by a stream to dry camp for the night. It was getting late and I felt that an extra hours sleep was better than walking an extra 2.5 miles so we cut our day at 25 miles. The last 3 to camp were easy and fast. We are camped among pines. In the distance I can see the sky turning orange and there is a buck deer hanging around lapping up Ollie’s piss. They like to lick that and also sweaty clothes.