Day 77: Escaping Etna…

Day: Sunday, August 14th 2016
Miles: 1597.2 – 1621.2

1597.2 Etna summit – Marble Valley Tentsite 1621.2 (24)

Of course the biggest problem with escaping a rest-stop is the preponderance of reasons for not leaving. The Hiker Hut was very inviting, Dave and Vibeke made very sure of it. Add to that the allure of a solid breakfast at Bobs Ranchhouse and I was stuck to the couch at the hiker hut, happy to let anyone get a ride up-mountain before me. Since there was a bunch of hikers in that position, I had a pleasant and low key morning hanging out in Etna, enjoying breakfast with Scratch (a Southbounder) and Hobbit, from Texas. I was very excited later to see that Handsome and Moonshine along with their dog from WV arrived, hikers I met from way back when I was in scissors crossing, a cool and unexpected catchup!

After the first run of hikers to Etna Pass, I got ride up with Dave Harrison from the hiker hut to the peak, thankfully avoiding hitching and the commensurate wait. It was interesting to hear some local information about their crude ski rope-pull (created by taking a wheel off a pickup truck and afixing the rope to the exposed drive train) as well as local views on the national forest, always of course anointed with some local conjecture and hearsay! I started hiking at noon and immediately the trail recommenced its alignment as a ridge traverse, happily for me providing great views in all directions. After a short time I lunched with Smiles and Skippy whom I hung out with back in Etna, as well as Flint and iRobot.

I then kept walking alone with some nice jagged peaks and undulations on the trail to keep me company. After some intense elevation gain. I met hobbit at a series of tiny lakes and springs and we talked about mileage for the day along with the accommodation options. Over the course of undulating peaks and troughts, I had some interesting views to the west da magnificent sunset (at this stage a daily occurance). I eventually continued through 9pm where the trail followed an intensely vegetated valley so overhung and ominously dark that I was uncomfortable at the prospect that mountain lions or some other critter may be around any corner. I was very happy as a result to make it to a sheltered tent spot by an abandoned ranger shack at Marble Valley. After a dinner of wraps and Spanish flavor rice, I cowboy camped with some nice stars and the company of a doe who munched grass around my camp late into the night!

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