Swimming with Salamanders and Dining with Deers
Beginning Elevation = 6,300
Ending Elevation = 5,700
Elevation Range = 5,700 – 7,100
Weather: Sunny, high 70’s/low 80’s ish
Pretty nice view to wake up to!
My hike began around 6:30am and about 10 minutes later I entered into the Marble Mountain Wilderness, which I’d stay in the rest of the day.
At first, I wasn’t sure how I felt about the place. I didn’t get the best first impression when I nearly stepped on this lethargic devil creature.
I’m pretty sure it’s a Californian Mud Brown Snake, which can grow to a length of 40 feet long, weigh over a ton, and reach around 3 feet at it’s thickest part of it’s body. Ok, maybe not, maybe that’s the prehistoric Titanaboa!
Truthfully, it didn’t take long into my walk to realize I was going to like this stretch just as much as the Trinity Alps and Russian Wilderness’. It has the same feel for the size and scope of the mountains and topography, but the main difference I noticed was here I was continually going in and out of burned areas. So often that the view looking out had a mix of brown and deep green.
You see those crazy mushrooms growing on the burned trees? Lots of flowers still too. At this point I’m claiming that my fav combo is the bright yellow and bright violet!
I took it a little slower today, taking more short breaks and not just bombing up hills and such. I could still feel the weird pain in my shin, but it didn’t really hurt. I did notice last night it seems to be slightly swollen. Anyway, during my lunch break, I figured now was the time to finally go for a swim in one of these lakes! Fischer Lake is the name of the lovely little pond I went for. Of course, I documented this experience…
I know, I know, I’ve been working on my beach bod whilst out here. Definitely got that tan going. And the boxer briefs hiked up real high is a good look as well I thought. This quick dip felt great! The lake wasn’t too cold, it was clear, there were little trouts jumping, and there were salamanders. What else could you want for a swimming hole?
Yes folks, you read that correctly, salamanders. I actually didn’t realize it at first for this lake that I swam in. I’d seen something swimming out in the water and assumed it was a fish. But then, when I stopped to look at the next pond down the trail I saw about a dozen all at once, and realized that what I’d seen earlier was the same. Look at these things…
Now I called it a salamander, but do they even swim? Could it be a newt? or possibly a gecko?
Post-lunch were more beautiful views and flowers and a section where there were several small cascading streams across the trail from above. Along one of these, I found a butterfly party. As the Ancient Mongolian’s used to say, “A butterfly picture a day keeps the doctor away.” Must be true, because my diet certainly isn’t what has been keeping me healthy. There were also some super glistening mountain lakes too!
Just before reaching my intended tent site I believe I came across the marble of Marble Mountain. I should know more about marble, being a geologist and all, but nada. I have in my head that it’s limestone that’s been altered metamorphically, but this stuff I was seeing was a bit rough/course feeling and would expect marble to be more smooth. It did have clear, distinguishable layers though. My fellow geologists out there will have to confirm or flatten my theories.
I set up camp in Marble Valley (according to Guthook’s). There was a small little stream where I was able to get water and a bunch of flat spots. I set up with a view of a nice flowery meadow and then cooked dinner looking out over it waiting for the deers to show up. It just looked very deery to me. That, and there were comments in Guthook’s about overly friendly deer being present at this site.
Sure enough, they came. And they stayed til dark and beyond. And then more came. Three other hikers joined as well and together we spent our normal fall-asleep time “fighting” off the onslaught of deers. It’s a bit strange, but they seem to be big fans of salty things such as sweat and urine. And being not afraid of us, they came right up to our tents. Then, I’d shoo them away, and five minutes later they’d return. There were three different bucks attacking me. This big one with 9 antlers, one with four, and another little guy with two pencil-like points sticking up.
Eventually, I fell asleep. I’m not sure how late the deer kept coming or how close they got. I did at one point get out my headlamp, which was set on the red light setting, and look out to see the glaring eyes of the big buck 10 feet away. A bit frightening. It’s possible they were hanging out licking my sweaty backpack all night!