Marble Mountain Wilderness Backpacking Trip
June 15 - 26, 2020

Bob and Reenie: 11 Nights, 12 Days, 25 Miles Backpacking, 18 Miles Day Hiking.

See Favorite Photos/Videos, Day by Day Narrative and Photos, Backpacking Trail Map

Favorite Photos/Videos

For any of the following Favorite photos, click on the image to bring up the full resolution version. Day by day photos and narrative follow these.

The first photo is of the Marble Mountains themselves, while the next photo was taken at the saddle of a ridge above Cliff Lake that shows Mount Shasta in the far background. We had climbed up the cliff behind Cliff Lake to get to the ridge top, where the Pacific Crest Trail was only a few feet behind the ridge. The next two photos are at our other high point, on the rock overlooking the Marble Mountains. The rock is in the first photo to the far left.


Video suggestion: All videos shown below are very short and HD (1080p). I find best YouTube settings (for all but the few with Bob, Reenie, or animals) are HD (1080p), slow motion (0.25 or 0.50), and full screen. Actually, watching Bob and Reenie in slo mo can be amusing.

Highlights/Memorable Events

Day 1, Monday, June 15, 2020

Began driving to the trailhead from Oakmont at 6:45, arrived at trailhead parking by 3 PM, and had a nice campsite at the trailhead with no other people in the area. The forest road for the last few miles was mostly dirt with some gravel and ruts, but an easy drive.

Lunch: Sandwiches Reenie had prepared.
Dinner: Subway all-veggie sandwiches.

Diary:

Drove first to Yreka to stop at Subway sandwich, but first store was out of all breads except flatbread, so we drove to Walmart Subway, stopping first to fill up gas tank. Ate Reenie's sandwiches in car, saving Subways for dinner. Missed the turn to Shackelford Rd, but found it ok. Several cars at trailhead, but no people. There was a campsite next to the stream with a picnic table and not too far away a toilet (we refer to such places as staying at the Hilton). We set up our tents, walked up the trail as far as the sign at the Marble Mountain Wilderness border (about a quarter mile), visited a campsite along the way we might use on our return, but decided it was too difficult to get down to the stream, got back to our campsite and had a Subway sandwich dinner.

Day 2, Tuesday, June 16

We backpacked from the trailhead to Cliff Lake, a little over 5 miles with a more than 1,700' elevation climb and found a wonderful campsite next to the lake. No one else was at the lake.


Dinner: Spinach Paneer with naan bread and white rice (so good!)

Diary:

We started backpacking around 9 AM. First 3 miles was a gradual uphill through forest and meadows next to Shackelford Creek, occasionally crossing small streams feeding the main creek.


During the rest of the hike we did three 400' elevation rises with a total rise of just over 1,700'. First 400' was to Log Lake which in fact did have many logs in it. Just before that climb we checked out an alternative that crossed Shackelford creek but found it too difficult. After Log Lake we passed a big green meadow with flowers. We then crossed the 3 creeks into which Shackelford had split, getting feet wet once. Then climbed 400' up to Campbell Lake with occasional sprinkles.

At Campbell met a guy who went on about how incredible Cliff Lake was - he said a "religious" experience. We then went up another 400' elevation to Cliff which is truly beautiful in a cirque with snow on crags. However, it was cold and wet and we were very tired, but we did find an excellent campsite and we had the lake to ourselves.

Reenie prepared her spinach paneer with naan bread and rice which she had dehydrated before the trip and it was so good. That night we heard and then saw a large buck with antlers walking through our campsite. Very cold night.

Day 3, Wednesday, June 17

Hiked along Cliff Lake, then up through forest above the lake to see Angel Lake.


Videos:

Dinner: Madras lentils with white rice.

Diary:

In the morning two fishermen came by, one quite talkative, who had camped down at Campbell Lake. Also saw a newt in water near camp.

We hiked along trail near lake until it ended at last campsite (actually, shortly after starting Reenie went back for her hiking poles while Bob took pictures of flowers in a meadow).

Looked for trail leading up towards Angel Lake, but found only an unmaintained use trail that eventually disappeared as we climbed through forest. Went up and up headed back along Cliff Lake below. Saw deer, lots of different pretty flowers and what appeared at one point to be bear paw prints, finally reaching what we thought might be Angel Lake, which was very small and with snow packs around.

We ate lunch (gouda cheese, Triscuits, dehydrated fruit, a package of "Antioxident Power Up Trail Mix"). Rather than go back the way we had come, we decided to basically go straight down to the lake, which was very steep, lots of logs and branches. Took 2 1/2 hours to go up, one hour to go down.

As we approached camp, we saw a buck leaving, presumably the same one I saw last night. For dinner Reenie prepared the Madras lentils with white rice she had cooked and dehydrated before our trip and it was very good. After dinner we took a nice walk, some on trail, some off, with lots more pretty flowers.

Day 4, Thursday, June 18

Hiked up steep cliff beside Cliff Lake, reached top of ridge, saw Mount Shasta, walked on the Pacific Crest Trail, then returned to camp.


Videos:

Dinner: Jaipur vegetables with cashews and pineapple with lemon rice and quinoa.

Diary:

We saw newts, including some mating, in Cliff Lake next to our campsite. There were several newts including one tiny baby one. We had perfect weather.

Before starting a hike, it is important to have clean hair, as Reenie demonstrates below:

We hiked to south end of lake next to snow pack, passing streams, small water falls, and two campsites.

Then came back a bit and started up use path leading to ridge above lake. Path often disappeared. It was a very steep, strenuous climb:

However, there were beautiful flowers of all types, even a small marshy meadow covered with them.

Also, lots of butterflies, a couple of which landed on Bob.

Near top, as we approached ridge, suddenly got amazing view of Mount Shasta - spectacular.

As we topped the ridge (very, very steep) we saw the Pacific Crest Trail immediately on other side. Views of mountain ranges in all directions. Huge forests of burned trees coming right up to the PCT side of ridge - no fire remnants on Cliff Lake side of ridge.

We followed PCT a bit until it started to descend, then we kept going up ridge to high point where we had lunch of gouda cheese, salmon, Triscuits, dehydrated (by Reenie) apples. A simply wonderful time. While on the ridge, Bob pushed a couple of small stones and they "avalanched" on and on and on.

We then went back down - very, very steep and at some points so steep it was easier to sit and slide down a bit. However, as before, so many flowers of so many colors.

We also saw chipmunks along the way and a deer.

When we got to lake trail we headed back to camp and it felt so easy.

After resting at camp, Reenie prepared Jaipur vegetables with cashews and pineapple with lemon rice with quinoa which Reenie had made and dehydrated before the trip. So good!

Day 5, Friday, June 19

We backpacked from Cliff Lake to Summit Lake.

Video:

Dinner: Cajun rice with mushrooms, onions, and red bell peppers plus corn, pinto beans and Paneer cheese. Dessert was dried (by Reenie) fruit.

Diary:

Packed our tents and gear, said goodbye to Cliff Lake (and newts),

and backpacked down trail almost to Campbell Lake, then began hiking up and down ridge leading to Summit Lake. Met wife, daughter, and husband who told us Summit Lake had no one there when they left it earlier. On way down from Cliff Lake a deer came running up trail towards us, then turned back and ran the other way before finding a way to get off trail. We saw hikers with dog right after that.

Going up ridge above Summit Lake was hot. We passed various meadows, streams, and small waterfalls. Overall a fairly easy day. No one was at Summit Lake, then two guys passed our campsite and asked about bears. Not sure if they camped at Summit Lake or went on.


Butterflies at camp big time. They were amazing, so many. They encircled Bob's tent and somehow got inside it, so Bob had to catch them and throw them back out. At one point we counted 8 butterflies on tent with others flying around outside. A butterfly also landed on Reenie.

We had another tasty meal provided by Reenie of Cajun rice with mushrooms, onions, and red bell pepper plus corn and pinto bean and Paneer cheese, followed by a dessert of fruit Reenie had dehydrated before trip.

When Bob was next to stream filling bottle with water, he dropped the bottle and chased it down stream, getting it, so he could then Steripen a liter for the evening.

Day 6, Saturday, June 20

Backpacked 6 miles from Summit Lake to Frying Pan Lake in Sky High meadows, briefly attempting first to get to Shadow Lake.

Videos:

Dinner: Curry soup with broccoli and mushrooms and saifan bean threads.

Diary:

Unexpected "Challenges":

Positive events of the day:

Day 7, Sunday, June 21: Summer Solstice and Father's Day!

Moved to much better campsite at Lower Sky High Lake and day hiked in the area.

Dinner: Butter chicken with Indian spices and basmati rice with mushrooms.

Diary:

In the morning we realized we each had gotten enough sleep so we could continue our backpacking adventure and stay here at the Sky High Lakes several more nights. We looked for and found a wonderful campsite on the shore of Lower Sky High Lake that had no one nearby and looked across the lake at a huge rock wall. So we packed up our tents and gear at Frying Pan Lake and set up camp at Lower Sky High Lake.

We walked/hiked around trails in Sky High Valley, getting views of Black Marble Mountain. The Valley was not as full of people and had empty campsites by the late afternoon. We took naps in the afternoon. Sunday was our day of rest [Chillax as Gabe would say]. As elsewhere there was an abundance of butterflies at camp. Reenie prepared another very tasty dinner of butter chicken with Indian spices and basmati rice with mushrooms. Since it was Father's Day, I got a special, colorful napkin with exotic birds.


Day 8, Monday, June 22

Did a major day hike from Lower Sky High Lake back up to the PCT, then over to the Marble Rim Trail and cross country up to top of rock overlooking Marble Mountain.


Videos:

Dinner: Salmon with Cajun rice and vegetables and for dessert fruit

Diary:

We got an early start, getting to see the sun sparkling in the water, and then getting yet another great view of the mountains as we approached the PCT.

Hiked up to PCT, then took Marble Rim Trail at 4 Corner Junction. So many colors and many types of wildflowers on this warm day.


Rim Trail gives spectacular views of Rainy Valley and all wilderness to west, including some burned forest.


About a mile along Rim trail we headed up cross country to ridge where we picked up a use trail that led to a black rock outcropping above the south end of the White Marble Mountain. We climbed up rock, leaving hiking poles behind.

At top, spectacular 360 degree view of Marble Mountain and wilderness. We could even see top of Mount Shasta.


We also got pics of Shadow Lake in the far distance, not obscured by trees as our pic on Day 6.

So many bees. Given Reenie's ankle situation - 8 months after surgery - a major accomplishment. We got lots of pics, slowly descended (picking up hiking poles) and did cross country back to PCT. Not only flowers, but tiny toads in abundance along trail. Got back to PCT, then to Sky High Lakes trail. Reenie wrenched her ankle some, but she was able to walk it off (we had a mile to go). Got back to campsite and Reenie got into lake to rinse off and also to cool ankle and body.

For dinner we had salmon with Cajun rice, vegetables, and dessert of dehydrated (by Reenie) fruit. A chipmunk begged we give him food, which shocked us because it is very much against Forest Service policy for chipmunks to ask for food, but Bob relented and contributed a few peanuts.

Day 9, Tuesday, June 23

We day hiked in the Sky High Valley, heading down towards Little Marble Valley at one point.

Videos:

Dinner: Vegan Tika Masala with red bell pepper, mole mushrooms, orzo pilaf, and cumin rice.

Diary: After yesterday's pretty gruelling hike, we decided on a day of rest, so we only hiked 4 to 6 miles in the Sky High meadows and forests.

We met John and Dee, who actually later gave us a bottle (cardboard) of red wine - 1/2 liter. John is a teacher and Dee a nurse. At one point a bee got on Reenie and stung her and Dee removed the stinger.

We hiked down towards Little Marble Valley, getting as far as Gate Lake, and as always there was an abundance of colorful flowers.


On the way got pictures in the far distance of the rock we had climbed yesterday.

Later in the afternoon when we returned to our campsite at Lower Sky High Lake, Reenie got in the lake and swam.

In the evening after dinner we walked to the charming, ramshackle remains of a log cabin.

We saw beautiful clouds at sunset and watched the final glimmer of sunlight on surrounding ridges.

Day 10, Wednesday, June 24

Day hike down closer to Little Marble Valley and back.

Dinner: Salmon, Curry Soup mixed with mushrooms, corn pinto beans, pineapple, paneer cheese and red wine.

Diary:

Our last day of day hiking we spent in Sky High meadows and forests, this time hiking further towards Little Marble Valley. Not surprisingly, a butterfly wanted a free ride.

We passed Gate Lake and found a stream we could sit near and eat a picnic lunch of gouda cheese, fruit, Triscuits, and nuts. There were even more flowers in bloom.

We were passed by a group of 8 day hikers. We returned by Frying Pan Lake and once at our Lower Sky High Lake campsite had a dinner of salmon, Curry Soup mixed with mushrooms, corn pinto beans, pineapple, paneer cheese and drank our gift of red wine at what would be our final dinner at the lake.

We noticed that on the top of a high cliff in the distance, hard to see in the first picture below, there was a large, white bird, perhaps an egret, standing. So we zoomed in to get a clearer look, as can be seen in the second photo below.

After dinner we had an evening walk and stopped by John and Dee's campsite, giving them a bag of cashews, along with a note about Steripens, Ur Sacks and a medicine Reenie had. We had talked with them earlier about all of those and they had not had experience with any of them.

Day 11, Thursday, June 25

Backpacked all the way to Shackelford Trailhead where car was parked - about 11 miles.

Dinner: Remaining dry foods - nuts, fruit, cheese, Triscuits, trail mix.

Diary:

Got up at 5:30 AM, started backpacking at 7 AM, going up steep trail from Lower Sky High Lake campsite to PCT. Day became warm, then hot, very quickly. As we hiked along the PCT saw beautiful panoramas, lot of colorful flowers, burnt forests.

There were several large logs covering the trail that were difficult to get over or go around, but we made it. The two worst were just before Summit Trail junction.

Near that junction we met many people, including two women backpackers, one of whom was finishing up the last segment of the California PCT. Another guy was jogging (met him at the Cold Spring Trail junction) who was camped at Summit Lake - we would meet his wife as we headed down towards Summit Lake, leaving the PCT.

At Summit Lake there were people and we continued down until we found a nice picnic spot near a stream and had lunch (cheese, Triscuits, nuts, dried fruit) and Steripenned water.

We then continued hiking down and decided that by 3 PM we would find a campsite. We had no luck and decided to take a rest break for about 45 minutes. Then we continued on trail. Met a guy who said trailhead was 1.5 miles ahead and then another who said no one was at the trailhead campsites when he left.

We actually checked out one campsite along the trail, but decided it was too hard to get water, so we continued to the Trailhead and got the same good campsite at which we had begun our trip. We brought the car over (it started with no problems!). We were so pleased to have all the water we needed in the car, even enough for Bob to wash off with (Thank you Shirley!).

We set up tents, then had dinner of salmon, gouda cheese, Triscuits, nuts, dried fruit.

We were too tired to cook and clean up a hot meal. In order to get her first night of good sleep since losing her air mattress, Reenie took the spare clothes Shirley had put in the car and layered them under her sleeping bag (thank you Shirley!). Perfect end to a wonderful backpacking trip!

Day 12, Friday, June 26

Drove home with no problems, stopping at Walmart Subway and eating in the car. And getting great views of Mt. Shasta.

Maps

This map displays the routes we took on days that we backpacked.
Photos and narrative were contributed by both of us: Reenie and Bob
Reenie: "This backpack was made possible by Bob carrying a heavier pack than I, including both tents, in order to accommodate my healing ankle. Thank you, Bob! I have sent your name to the Community of International Sherpas Assn. with a strong recommendation. (truly preferable to future reciprocation)"
Here are all of the backpacking trips Reenie and Bob have taken

Other Websites
By Bob:

Bob Phillips [phillips bob 27 at yahoo dot com - no spaces]
Santa Rosa, CA
June, 2020