It was a good day to hike. Bright sunshine but not too hot and the trail was relatively flat for the first ten miles to the spring. In a little while the terrain became steeper and we stayed close to the crest for quite a way. Traversing across past Marten and Fisher Lakes (which as Yogi says were far too ‘organic’ to get water from) the trail goes through a profusion of wildflowers beyond anything I’ve seen so far. The most common ones were the pale purple daisies. The Most Exotic Award would be shared by the orange flower whose petals curled so much it was almost inside-out and the red one which looks like a spikey pine cone just opening up. Off to the right there was room for a very small meadow before it dramatically plunges off into the valley below. I hope my photos do it justice, if not you’ll all have to make the trek in from the road to see for yourself.
From there it is up steeply to a tiny saddle for lunch. It reminded me a lot of Fenêtre d’Arpette on the Tour du Mont Blanc, except for the trees below. I remember how much of an effort that was and how worried I got about it. Now I’ve crossed that sort of thing dozens of times without a care, still huffing and puffing though.
On the way down the guide book points out Man Eaten Lake (near Kleaver Lake, I think it must have been a Who not a What that did the eating) and calls it ’stark’. I’d have called it pristine. You could see where the granite rock slides had fallen into the cool water. It was deep blue and so inviting and if I’d not been 400ft up the hill I’d have totally gone for a swim.
Hiking with Blue Sky is working well. We have very similar speeds, but that makes it hard to catch up if one drops back for something. A couple of times I went past trail junctions and then waited to make sure she made the same choice. She always did so I really shouldn’t worry. We’re at Marble Valley Guard Station now where the local deer seem unafraid and have walked within a dozen feet of our camp spot.
Rocket Cop and Tiki have just turned up too and I know Troll and Oblivious won’t be far away. Tiki has kindly given me some replacement hiking pole tips. I had mine replaced at the Kick Off and have since worn them to stubs. I couldn’t do this hike without them. On the ups they take some effort from my legs, on the flats they increase my speed, on the downs they save my knees.
More photos of this day’s journey can be found at Etna to AshlandDistance today: 23.1 miles. Total distance: 1629.4 miles