Saturday, September 1, 2018

Backpacking 2018: Marble Mountains Wilderness, Cliff Lake

It was time to go, so we packed up and went.

The Marble Mountains Wilderness is in far, far northern California.

If you get to Oregon, well, you just missed it; turn around, and go back 20 miles.

This is old wilderness; it was one of the first "primitive areas" established by the 1929 Forest Service L-20 regulations:

The L-20 Regulation provided a policy to designate Natural Areas, for scientific and educational purposes; Experimental Forests and Ranges, for long-term research unfettered by other management objectives; and Primitive Areas "to maintain primitive conditions of transportation, subsistence, habitation, and environment to the fullest degree compatible with their highest public use."

Well, really, that's not what made it old wilderness.

But, at least, it's what helped us understand that, in fact, it is Old Wilderness.

To get to the Marbles, from the south, you Head North.

If you get to Oregon, you've gone (just a little) too far.

Anyway, did I say? It was time to go, so we packed up and went.

The most natural way into the Marble Mountains is from the Scott Valley, and so that's what we did. We rested overnight in Yreka, partially acclimatizing ourselves to the higher elevations, then out we went, past Fort Jones, through Greenview, and then up. Up. Up!

Before you know it, you're in the wilderness.

Our hike was, essentially, the one described here: Cliff Lake in the Marble Wilderness – July 2010

Things we did:

  • Climbed up to the intersection with the Pacific Crest Trail to see Shackleford Canyon from above, as well as to catch a glimpse of White Marble Mountain to the west
  • Swam in lakes
  • Tried out various new gear (tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, chairs, etc.) -- even a camp boat!
  • Enjoyed the near-perfect weather (clear skies, no rain, mid-day highs in the high 70's, overnight lows in the high 40's)

Things we saw:

  • Smoke
  • Cows!
  • Bats eating bugs
  • A California Vole
  • Beautiful Shackleford Creek
  • A cowboy, on a horse, leading a saddled pony, accompanied by a herding dog
  • A brilliant full moon
  • Lots of fish
  • A dense and healthy incense cedar and mountain hemlock forest in the canyon; burned trees on the other side of the Pacific Crest

Things we heard:

  • Two owls
  • Cowbells
  • No airplanes or cars or trains

It was a very good trip.

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