Parker Creek to Marie Lakes
(16.5 miles, +3,500/-3,500 feet).
Today was two truly spectacular hikes that sandwiched a relatively miserable one. I guess it’s not a coincidence that my emotional energy mirrored the topographical profile of today’s trip….
We awoke energized and ready to tackle the switchbacks headed up Parker Peak.
The climb wasn’t bad at all. It was nice and cool, and we took short breaks every other switchback to catch our breath. And the views were definitely inspirational.
Above the switchbacks, the trail flattened out, winding its way up to the pass.
We took a nice long break at the top.
We then headed down to Alger Lakes. The trail was mostly clear, but there were a couple of minor snow fields to contend with.
As we neared , I wanted to get a closer look at Lake 10917, so I told MixMaster and BarnFinder I would meet them down at Alger Lakes. On the way I saw a bunny.
After my brief solo excursion, I found BarnFinder and MixMaster again and we continued down the trail.
Past Alger Lakes we started a descent to Gem Lake that was truly awful. I was bitten twice by horseflies, and the trail was full of horseshit, attracting a variety of other insects. I was cursing horses the whole way down the trail. Why don’t horse riders clean up after their animals? I have to dig a freaking half foot hole every time I want to poop, but apparently they are exempt.
When we finally got through the madness and down to Gem Lake, we were relieved to find a spot on the lakeshore that was windy enough to keep the bugs at bay.
We also used the break to eat some lunch and swim.
After lunch we continued up the buggy Rush Creek trail towards Waugh Lake. Someone had left trail art that seemed appropriate for JimmyJam.
Eventually we made it to Waugh Lake, which was really weird because it is man-made. There is a dam at the eastern end (not shown) and the trunks of trees that died when it was made are still visible near the shore. So strange.
We found a place near Waugh Lake with a breeze and took a break from the bugs.
We pressed on towards the JMT/PCT, crossing some streams along the way.
Finally, we made it to the PCT. Sadly, it was the buggiest of all our hiking for the day.
At least the trail was in great shape. We called it the “Rolls Royce” of trails!
In less than a mile, we turned off the PCT to Marie Lakes.
The climb up got us out of the bugs, and it was really pretty.
Finally, around 5:30pm we made it to Marie Lakes.
We quickly set up camp and then I went to explore.
None of us were too hungry for dinner, but we ate what we could. A marmot approached while we were eating.
I know these guys are bad news, attracted to our food and any equipment with salt on it, so I threw a rock at it. But I missed. MixMaster picked up a rock and threw it short of the marmot, but it bounced and caromed right into his cheek. I thought he’d be gone in a flash, but he budged not at all! What a tough little bastard. I got up to scare him off and he finally sauntered off.
After dinner we all got in our tents pretty early. It was a big day (some hikers we met expressed surprise when we told them how far we were going) and we were ready for some shut eye.