Lost Creek(1383) to Burney Falls PCT Camp(1416) 33 Miles
When I woke up this morning I definitely didn't plan on hiking thirty three miles. I didn't really have a plan at all. Once again I overslept. I have been doing this a lot lately. I guess the late nights and long hiking days are catching up to me. I didn't get on the trail until almost seven o'clock. I was concerned that it might rain today. The sky was really cloudy, but as I began to hike the clouds began to break up. They looked like cotton floating lazily across the blue sky. It made for some awesome pictures.
The only way I know how to describe Hat Creek Rim is that it was like walking on the rim of the Grand Canyon. The edge of the rim was a sheer drop off down into the valley. I spent the first half of the day walking close to the edge. There was evidence of a volcanic eruption everywhere. It was in the rocks, the fine sand, the desolation, and the lava fields. I was amazed by the shear scope of it all. The chilly morning air quickly turned into a hot oven. After leaving camp it was a 21.6 mile dry stretch. Actually, there was water, but it was only available from cow ponds. I choose to skip those and carry enough water for 22 miles. One of the cow ponds that I passed was made famous by the book/movie Wild. It was the cow pond where the two creepy guys approached Cheryl Strayed. Eight miles into my hike I crossed forest road 22. There used to be a maintained water cache at this road, but we were told not to count on it. I was pleasantly surprised to see that someone is once again maintaining it. Because it is at FR 22, they call it cache 22. I thought that was pretty whitty. I didn't really need any water, but it was a good place to take a break.
Just before descending from Hat Creek Rim I could see a large field of lava that stretched throughout the entire valley. I had never seen anything like it before.
Walking on lava rocks really took its toll on my poor feet. Unfortunately, for my feet, I was walking on lava rocks most of the day. Around midday Lost and Found caught up to me. We hiked together for a few miles. He is a really fast hiker and I appreciated him slowing down to my pace and keeping me company. Eventually he picked up the pace and we made plans to meet for lunch at the 1,400 mile mark. I only had two miles to go before reaching it so I kept up a brisk pace. I didn't want him to have to wait too long for me. He was planning on going into town and I understand that on town days you just want to hurry up and get there.
It occurred to me today that I'm now closer to Canada than I am to Mexico. That is a comforting thought and I'm not sure why it didn't occur to me when I hit the halfway point. Sometimes I can be so dense. After lunch I said goodbye to Lost and Found. I'm not going into town. I sent a resupply box to a camp store just off of the trail at Burney Falls State Park.
After hiking a few more miles I came to a natural water source in the form of an ice cold creek. I took another long break. The fine sand in this area is really doing a number on my feet. I haven't had a single problem with blisters this entire trip and I don't want to start now. I could feel a few hot spots so as I drank some ice cold water as I taped up my feet. It was at this point that I decided to push for a really high mileage day. Burney Falls had a campground just for PCT hikers. It has picnic tables, water, and trash cans. Sounds like heaven to me. The only problem was that it was still eleven miles away and I was beat. I did something that I never do, I took a few ibuprofen. I always take one ibuprofen 800 before bed and one in the morning when I wake up. It helps keep the inflammation in my knees manageable. Once the ibuprofen kicked in I felt fantastic. I crushed the first five miles and felt great.
With only six miles to go I ran out of steam. I was walking in a daze. I probably resembled a zombie. I looked up at a dirt road crossing and I couldn't believe my eyes. There was trail magic!!! I feel like I hardly ever see or get trail magic. I always seem to just miss it. There was a picnic table with umbrellas, big jugs of ice cold tea and water, a cooler full of soda, some snacks, and a big trash can. I thought maybe I had died and gone to heaven.
I guzzled down a Mountain Dew and packed out a little iced tea to have with dinner. Thanks Randy, Kathy, and Bandit for your generosity. I wouldn't have made it to Burney Falls without your generosity. A note on the trail register asked hikers to sign their name and to leave a joke. I was rather pleased by my joke. What do you call a group of Stormtroopers playing Monopoly? A Game of Clones.
I finished out my hiking day just before eight o'clock. The camp was great. I was able to sit at a picnic table and cook my dinner. Anytime I don't have to sit on the ground is a great day for me.
"Our own worst enemy cannot harm us as much as our unwise thoughts. No one can help us as much as our own compassionate thoughts.”