Smoke, fire, and mudpots
Pacific Crest Trail Quest '08 - Page 19
I slept in this morning because it's the 4th of July. I rolled out of bed at 9:00 and ate
walked through a giant ugly clear cut spider webbed with logging roads. I was very near
the fire and the smoke was thick. It burned my eyes and lungs and ash was falling from
the sky. I could hear the helicopters and chainsaws of the firefighters nearby. It was more
than a little scary being that close to the fire.
By lunch time, I was out of the worst of the smoke. I entered Lassen Volcanic Park, which
has been really interesting. I've been passing steaming vents and boiling mudpots all
afternoon. I get to explore some lava tubes tomorrow or the next day. I'm glad I didn't have
to skip Lassen. I can only hope nobody starts any new fires with their 4th of July fireworks
There were a lot more springs along the trail than showed up on the map this morning.
The mosquitoes weren't too bad, so I figured the extra water was a good thing. I walked
except that there weren't supposed to be any car campsites on my route. I double
checked my map to make sure one hadn't appeared on it overnight. There were no car
campsites on the PCT or even on the map.
I found a big map on a kiosk by the road and was able to figure out where I went wrong. I
was farther down the trail than I thought when I make camp last night. Because of that, I
made a wrong turn that led me 5 miles away from the trail. Luckily, the PCT intersected
the highway in 5 miles, so I road walked to the next trailhead and kept walking north from
there. I got lucky that time.
I hiked into the tiny town of Old Station and stopped at the gas station for some ice cream.
I'd heard there was a great trail angel in town, but I was planning on heading out and
putting a few more miles behind me. As I was walking out the door, I met a hiker who was
staying with the trail angels and told me that they were great people, and tonight was taco
night. I decided to stay.
The Heitmans are a nice retired couple who take care of hikers and let us sleep in their
yard. There are 11 other hikers here tonight. I was glad to learn they all had to do the
same fire detour as me. The tacos were great, and one of the hikers even baked us all
pie. It was a good stop.
I got a nice early start this morning. Shortly into my walk I realized I missed the side trail to
Subway Caves. These are giant lava tubes that you can walk through. I was really looking
forward to seeing them, but I would have had to backtrack several miles, so on I went. I
need to pay more attention to my map.
From there, it was a long, hot 3,000 ft. climb up to Hat Creek Brim. Hat Creek Brim is a tall
cliff next to a broad valley that runs for about 20 miles. The views are great, but it's hot,
shadeless, dry, and infested with cattle. The trail is rocky and overgrown, which led to a lot
of tripping on my part. I fell into a nice pattern. Take a few steps, trip, curse, and repeat.
Luckily, there are two water caches and a lawn chair along the way, so I didn't have to carry
the massive water loads I did in the desert, and I had a place to sit down for a while. I
walked 35 miles today so that I could get to a lake and wash the sweat and dirt off my filthy
body. I'm also only 5 miles from town, so I'll have a real breakfast in the morning.
I had an easy 5 mile walk to the highway this morning. I walked to a nice big intersection
and stuck out my thumb. There was plenty of traffic, but nobody seemed interested in
picking me up. 20 minutes into my hitching project, a motorhome pulled up to the stop
sign. He was dragging 50 feet of extension cord behind his rig, so I flagged him down
and told him about his cord problem. He returned the favor by hauling me to the grocery
store in Burney.
I went into the store hungry, which is always a bad idea. I walked out with about 5 pounds
more food than I needed. After groceries, I walked to the café next door. I ordered an
omelet. It was huge and delicious! Just what I needed. I talked with an elderly gentleman
in the next booth about the trail as I ate. He thought what I am doing is really neat and
offered me a ride back to the trailhead. I gladly accepted.
Back on the trail, it was hot. It only got hotter as the day wore on. The temp soared over
100 degrees today, and it's only supposed to get hotter through the rest of the week. I
wanted to put in some miles after dark tonight, but was too worn out and called it quits a
little after 8:00. I want to start really early tomorrow, but I'm not really a morning person. I'll
do my best. This is a bad section for hot weather. Most of the water sources are 10 or
more miles apart. I drink a ton of water when I'm hot. At least I have plenty of food.