CA – Marble Mountains – How Deep is Deep? (07/16)

There is no better way to test your fitness level and gear than to go out for a hike, better yet an overnight trip, in challenging terrain, and in less than ideal conditions. This is known as a shake-down trip. I jumped at the chance to join my friend, Catherine, in her final preparations for another long section hike in the high Sierra. 

Catherine is no slouch. She knows how to select challenging trails. 

We departed from the Lovers Camp Trailhead on the Red Rock Trail.

Had we gone right instead of left, we’d have had an up close and personal view of White and Black Marble Mountains as seen in this photo. Red Rock Mountain is in the foreground.

First destination was Little Elk Lake (6 acres, 5 feet deep), about 6 miles from the trailhead with 2,000 feet of climbing before descending 600+ feet down to the lake.

Found this old sign. Road? Trail? 

Our primary destination was Deep Lake (16 acres, 68 feet deep), about 10 miles from the trailhead with 3,300′ of climbing and 1,100′ of descending.

Our objective the next day was to hike off trail to the top of these bluffs to find what are known as the ABCD or Alphabet Lakes of Aspen, Buckhorn, Chinquapin, and Dogwood.

But Mother Nature had other plans. My starry starry sky went dark about 4am. I added my rain fly and sure enough at 6am, I heard that all too familiar gentle pitter-patter sound. By 7am, intensity increased. For the next 24 hours we endured strong gusty winds and heavy winds. My tent location was not great for weathering a storm, but with the wind and rain I elected to stay put rather than attempt relocation. It did great, I only had to contend with occasional blowing debris. 

Between gusts, I’d peek out thinking the storm might be moving on, or at least taking a break long enough for me to grab some water or visit the bushes. 

After spending most of the day in my tent (so thankful for my phone e-books), I was more than ready to leave the next day. We knew it wouldn’t be safe to attempt our off-trail adventure in such conditions, so it was time to pack up our wet gear and head down the trail. 

From white caps to calming waters as the storm started to clear. 

Did the blue skies tempt us to stay? No, we checked the forecast on our InReach devices and found 30-40% chance of continued rain for next couple of days. Lesson: DUH, why didn’t we check forecast before we left? You’d think we were amateurs; but no, with the great weather we’d been having, we just got complacent. 

Goodbye Deep Lake . . . you can see the trail junction sign in the foreground. We’d be exiting via the Boulder Creek Trailhead. 

Hiking through soaked foliage is a good way to test gear. The flowers were dripping. 

Goodbye White and Black Marble Mountains. 

A special treat was viewing Second Valley and Boulder Peak, places I need to visit in the future. 

As my readers know, I LOVE wildflowers. During my first visit to the Marble Mountains I was stunned with the density and enormity of the blooms. In fact, it was the first time I ever said ENOUGH. After walking though meadows with flowers taller than me, crowding the trail, alive with buzzing bees, and thick with humidity, I truly was ready for a break. The flowers weren’t at peak yet, so I did not have such an experience this time, instead it was easy to appreciate single blooms. 

Dates Hiked: July 7-9, 2016

Jan’s Tips:

Marble Mountain Wilderness Resources:



Wilderness Permits are NOT required for overnight trips

Campfire permits are needed for the operation of a backpacking or camp stove. Online Permit Link

Bear canisters are NOT required

One thought on “CA – Marble Mountains – How Deep is Deep? (07/16)

  1. Pingback: CA – Marble Mountains – Show Me the Box (07/16) – Jan's Jaunts and Jabberings

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