September 7th, 2017
Fauna seen: 1 marmot, Wilsons Warblers, Grey Mocking birds, Red tailed hawks, chips/squirrels, fresh bear scat on the trail by camp but no bear sighting…
We decide to sleep in a little this morning (well… what we consider sleeping in) and set our alarms for 6:30am. We are planning on getting up hella early tomorrow for Forester Pass, so it feels luxurious to lay around a little more in my sleeping bag right now. It is chilly in the valley, especially from all the rain yesterday, and the meadow is covered with frost and rising mist. Our tents are soaking wet too.
When I finally force myself to unscrew the cap on my sleeping pad, it’s really time to get up, all the air rushes out as my body slowly melts into the ground, and then I crawl out of my warm cocoon into the morning light. Gray Gardens is boiling water for us, so I slide on my dorky crocs and crunch through the frosted grass to the creek to get more water to filter. The water is freezing and my hands quickly become painfully numb, along with my wet feet. I hurry back to camp to put dry socks on, along with my shoes, and wiggle my toes around to push away the cold pins and needles. My feet thaw out while I chug my hot coffee and throw Bel Vitas into my hip belt pocket for walking breakfast. There is no sign of any bear visitors last night, which is just fine with us. Gray Gardens chokes down the last of her oatmeal, tosses her spoon in her bag, and we get hiking around 8am. We climb in the shade along Bubb’s creek most of the morning, moving upwards with an occasional sneaky down thrown in. Bubb’s is lovely, it’s a serious of waterfalls cascading over granite, and we cross a few small tributaries, luckily keeping our feet dry.
As we ascend towards the mountains and closer to the bottom of Forester Pass, we come out of the trees, away from the creek, and the valley starts to open up behind us. It seems impossible to imagine all the space out there, all the small things in this one vast valley. I try to picture all the little nooks of wildflowers in the sun, deer munching on leaves on a hidden slope, bears gliding through unseen meadows, all the water seeping into streams, into waterfalls, into lakes and rivers. I keep turning around every few feet for another look.
One on such occasion, as I bring my head back around, I catch movement and there’s a Marmot eating snacks right near the trail. It gives zero fucks about me and just keeps mowing the grass beneath it’s adorable body as I explode with joy. I love you Marmot I think, I love you mountains and rivers, I love you trees and boulders, and most of all I love you body for bringing me here.
I realize Grays pulled ahead and I can’t see her, so I tear myself away from the Marmot and climb up the next rise, where she’s there waiting for me. Such a good hiking friend. We come to the flat bench where we plan to camp for the night to set up for Forester tomorrow.
There’s a big campsite to our right below the trail but I decide to scout around a bit more and find a perfect site tucked in some trees across the creek instead. The views here are ah-maz-ing and stretch around us in all directions. Behind us tower the granite mountains, with waterfalls streaking down their sides, and patches of snow lingering in the shadows. There is a big plateau that stretches out into the abyss before us and it just seems to hover above the valley we climbed up this morning. We settle in, doing all the camp chores like laundry, while eating a few handfuls of things, and then decide to explore a bit.
I climb towards the mountains onto a ridge, while Gray heads in the other direction onto the plateau. She’s soon a tiny dot below me and I can only keep track of her by the maroon color of her puffy sticking out in a natural colored world.
The suns been holding off the chill but as the afternoon wanes the wind comes and we retreat back to camp for more layers.
A few hikers pass by in the late afternoon and I wonder if they are just camping at the tarn higher up or trying to go over the pass this late in the day. Sounds unpleasant to me personally but then again I like getting up early to hike and that’s not most peoples idea of pleasant either. The dark clouds visit us again but the rain never comes so we stay outside, chasing the sunny spots with our bodies and damp laundry. It’s a weird dance but kinda fun, and we chat and laugh, moving from one warm piece of granite to another. Time passes, like it do, and then it’s dinner and quickly bed time, for Forester Pass awaits tomorrow.