My Adventure Story
Our group of 5 met at Subway in Yreka. From there we travelled via Fort Jones to Indian Scotty Campground then up the hill to the Lovers Camp Trailhead. The Canyon Creek trail is mostly shaded and well travelled. I put out a bear about 15 yards from the trail near the Red Rock Canyon junction. Soon after that I put out a grouse. Lots of action on this trip. The Marble Staircase always does a good job taking your breath away (literally) as you rise up closer to the Marble Valley. There were no campers at the sites near the old Forest Service Guard Station. We rested here then turned North on the Pacific Crest Trail toward what we thought would be our camp for the night (Big Rock Camp). Upon our arrival we were greeted by Bubba, Jethro and the Band (a herd of cattle with cowbells). They totally ignored us as they continued to graze in the valley. We pulled watter down the hill at the spring and continued North until we got to the Box Camp Jumpoff. The tent campers setup on the ridge looking down into Elk Valley and I tied up my hammock at a nice little camp sheltered in the trees. It was a bit windy in the night but temps were good. On Friday morning, Sept. 2nd I woke at first light and climbed up peak 7200 for pictures as the Sun started to paint the new day on Black Marble Mountain and the surrounding Ridges. The views from the peak are tremendous. The drop off into Elk Valley is near vertical for 1800 feet. It is so interesting to see the mix of White Marble and Brown Shist making up these mountains. From here I could see Southwest toward our camp a few days from now above Sky High Lakes.
During a trip up the ridge that morning I stopped for a break on a black rock thrust up on the ridge. When I took my hat off for a moment I inadvertently dropped my headlamp that I had used earlier in less light. I didn't notice this had fallen and it made camp navigation a bugger the next night.
After breakfast we broke camp and continued North on the Pacific Crest Trail. The wild flowers in the meadows were outrageous. They were everywhere and huge. In a short time we arrived at Paradise Lake and setup at horse camp near the outlet. There was one other group at the Northeast campsite. Paradise Lake is not a good swimming lake and difficult to fish as it shallow. The shore neaest the headwall is brushy and very marshy. Yes! I tried to fish it but ended up in mud to me knees a few times. No fish for me.
We were quite tired from our journey and decided not to climb up to Kings Castle. The vertical ascent was very big, there was no trail and it was all through some very thick wildflowers. Several dayhiked over to Bear Lake and found some nice springs to pull water from. The lake was not very appealing for filtering water.
Soon after Dinner I realized I had lost my headlamp. Fumbling around camp with a cell phone for light is almost useless but it was good enough to get me from the campfire back to my hammock.
Saturday morning, September 3rd we broke camp and backtracked to the Marble Valley by traveling South on the PCT. At the Box Camp Junction I realized my actions on Friday morning and scrambled back up that ridge (ugh) to find the light laying on the ground. Its a good thing because I would definitely need it in the night at the next camp.
Back in the Marble Valley we took a break again and a firm decision was made to carry our packs to Shadow Lake overlooking the Sky High Lakes and Valley. It was a very stiff climb up to Four Corners but the views of the Marble Rim / Gap and Black Marble Mountain were tremendous. We found the way trail to Shadow Lake and found the way very steep. The rocky basin had a very pleasant lake that was swimmable and I did find a few Brook Trout that wanted to be caught (and released). The far end of the lake was subject to a forest fire several years ago. I suspect it will come back just fine. Otherwise the rest of the lake was very appealing. I think we had the best campsites and had the lake to ourselves.
On Sunday morning I broke camp from the group to head back to the trailhead and home. There is another trail from the opposite end (burn side) of the lake that ascends steeply but I think is better than the one we came in on. It reaches the PCT in short order and I continue South until I reach the Red Rock Canyon trail. Immediately head the Cowbell band in the valley below. Red Rock Canyon has long been used by Ranchers outside of the Marble Mountain Wilderness to graze their cattle in the Summer. No doubt they looked very well fed. The trail was hammered pretty hard by the cattle which did take away some of the beauty directly in front of you but the surrounding hills and ridges were very pleasing. Can you believe we were crossing snow in some places on the trail. This is all from last Winter!
I arrived back at Lovers Camp Trailhead at 11:00 AM which was completely full of cars now. A young couple had just arrived. They were very excited to hike the loop to the Marble Valley and Sky High Lakes. I'm sure they will create lifetime memories as I have during each visit. This was my third trip the the Marbles and I estimate about 32 miles on my hiking boots. I'll be back!