It almost seems like we are on a short vacation. Yesterday couldn't have been more mellow and today it is only a short hike to where we will spend the night. The terrain continues to be flat which make for easy hiking.
We hear a familiar bird sound and soon see the Osprey with a nest perched high on a dead tree. Reminds us of our home in Alaska.
By mid morning we have arrived to the Guest Ranch which has been hosting PCT hikers for the last several years. We had dropped off our food resupply here several weeks earlier so picked it up and repacked our food bags. We also took showers and did our laundry. It is like a fresh start every time we get a new food resupply. The next section that we will be hiking thru is called the hat rim and is known for the potential of being quite hot. There is no shade and the trail is made up of volcanic rocks. It is best to hike this early in the morning so we will spend the rest of the day here and prepare for an early morning departure. As the day progresses more hikers pass thru. Most will spend the night while others pick up some food and continue hiking. We meet Out of the Blue once again. He is not sure that he is going to continue. He really wants to see the Sierras, but turned around this year due to the snow condition. This is his second attempt as he did not make it thru them last year either. Other hikers are Wendy of the Lost Boys, Rabid Rabbit, Lady Bruce, Cribbage, Hobbit, Gandolf ,Four Eyes and Riva. Since my name is Peter Pan it is fun to talk to Wendy of the Lost Boys from Australia. Don and I had seen her name on the trail registers so it is fun to finally meet her. The guest ranch has a meal plan and most of us opt for having our dinner cooked for us. It is great to sit around the table and hear the adventures of other hikers, since we have hiked most of the same trail, we can relate to their stories.
The owners are both retired and have been working on getting the ranch into good shape. Seems like there will be a lot of hikers using the facility this summer. After a hot day of hiking, one is greeted by a bowl of ice cream.
Miles hiked 4
Knowing that we wanted to get as much of today's hike done early, we were up at 4 and actually started hiking with the headlamps. Out of the Blue also was up and left right before we did. It seems like we may not see him again as he was on the edge of leaving the trail. Before we actually climbed up to the rim the trail was flat and quite green. In another month or so the grass will have died and the fire danger will be quite high. We passed by a fish hatchery which made sense why the Osprey was there yesterday.
We are feeling fortunate that there is a lot of cloud cover today, making the temperature stay lower.
The climb up to the rim began and we were soon looking over the valley below.
An interesting collection of satellite dishes are set up in the middle of the valley. There are a lot of them listening in on something?
Our focus, however, is on the trail and its close surroundings. Pine cones are always interesting.
We have been warned about the mountain lions in the area. There is a lot of scat on the trail and when we saw butterflies attracted by the moisture in the scat, we knew it was relatively fresh.
There are a lot of butterflies today and I feel fortunate when I am able to get a photo of one on a flower.
A colorful insect is also enjoying the nectar of the flower.
This stretch of trail is 30 miles of no natural water. The last couple of years though a water tank has been installed half way thru. Near Burney Falls State Park, we met a man who was doing some trail work and he assured us that he had just checked the tank and we should be good. We still carried a good amount of water, but were able to top our bottles with the water found there. A sign there also recommended getting water at Lost Creek so one should only take some water from the cache. We followed those directions and made Lost Creek our destination for the night. There was a good tent site near the creek.
Miles hiked 24
We woke up about 5 and felt fortunate that we had hiked Hat Rim yesterday during a cool overcast day. It appears that today is going to be beautiful, but hot as no clouds are in the sky.
Today we should be hiking closer to Mt. Lassen. It is the white mountain in the distance. We have disturbed a nesting pair of swallows. They dive bomb us and we move quickly by the tree.
A hummingbird bird takes a short break.
We see a sign that points to a trail going to Subway Cave. We decide to go check it out. We are now near Mt. Lassen national park and there are quite a few informational signs. One tells of the volcano exploding in 1914 and the devastation that occurred from the lava flow. The cave is a lava tube and one can imagine the forces that took place for it to occur. We need our flashlights to walk thru the cave.
A lizard matches its surroundings.
We get a good view of Mt Lassen.
Mt. Lassen National Park requires bear canisters if you camp inside the park boundaries so our plan is to get close to the boundary tonight and then hike thru the park to a campsite tomorrow which has a bear box, since we are not carrying our bear vaults. The hike parallels a paved road which had some road construction being done. I could not believe my good fortunate when I needed to go to the bathroom and there right next to the trail was a porta potty. I made good use of it and thanked the traffic control person. Late afternoon finds us near a beautiful stream. A decision is made to take a long break and make dinner. As we are enjoying our meal, Out of the Blue walks by our campsite. He stops to talk and tells us that he decided to continue hiking, at least for a little while. We are glad to see him and make plans to meet up tomorrow. Norway also passes by and says hi. One can tell that he is enjoying this hike. They are the only hikers we have seen today.
Miles hiked 19
We are at a higher elevation and we are not surprised when the temperature drops during the night. After we had packed up and were walking towards the trail we noticed a snake that was not moving due to the cold.
The hike started out with great views of Mt. Lassen.
We have planned to meet Out of The Blue at Twin Lakes. Unfortunately Don and I took a trail to South Twin Lakes and realized our mistake about an hour into the wrong trail. When we started walking on a faint traill thru a cinder area, we knew we were not on the PCT and cut cross country to the correct trail. Meanwhile Out of the Blue met a couple going North and they stated that they had not seen us. He realized what we had done and waited for us to get back on the correct trail.
When we reconnected, it was time for lunch. The Twin Lakes offered a great setting for eating.
There was a lot of flat trail walking today.
As well as logs across streams.
Our plan for the night was to check out Drakesbad Resort. They had not opened yet, but staff were there getting ready for the summer guests. This place is hiker friendly and when not overly busy with clients will welcome hikers. We thought that it would be worth a shot to see what our chances were to get a meal.
As we hike down the trail, we see the resort in the valley.
It is our lucky day. They will indeed make us dinner and give us a towel to go shower and check out their thermal hot pool. Out of the Blue and Norway join Don and I for dinner. It comes complete with drinks and dessert. Delicious! A little later Four Eyes, Gandolf, and River hike into the resort. They have missed dinner, but will take the offer to enjoy the pool. Next week, guests will arrive and the low key atmosphere of tonight will be on a different level. Feeling well fed and clean we walk back to the nearby forest service campground, put up our tent and snuggle into our sleeping bags. The mosquitoes have come out tonight so we are glad to have a tent with netting
Miles hiked 18
We are up early and start hiking about 5:15. We plan to take a couple of side trips to see some geological features of the park. The first one is the boiling lake which indeed is boiling.
On the way to the terminal geyser, our path leads us through giant fields of sunflowers.
The terminal geyser was a mile off trail, but was worth the extra mile.
Always fun to see nature at work.
Another non chlorophyll plant catches our eye.
Mt. Lassen begins to fade to the north.
We were glad to see this water source. A spring feeds this pond.
A butterfly enjoys the moisture.
We are making good time today as the elevation gain is minimal. We decide to get to the trailhead and hitch to Chester. Tomorrow we can go to the post office and pick up our resupply. Plus tonight we can do showers and laundry. With those incentives our pace quickness and soon we hear cars traveling on the highway. We are hiking with Out Of the Blue so when we arrive to the road we quickly try our luck at hitching. Shortly an older couple makes room in their car to take us the 8 miles to Chester. Don and I head off to the Lutheran Church while Out of the Blue opts for a hotel. The church is quite friendly, letting hikers set up their tents in their back yard. They also provide snacks and power strips for charging electronics. A member of the congregation stops by to check to see if anything is needed. It is a great service that they provide! After setting up our tent, it is off to find dinner with Norway and Out of the Blue. A lot of the restaurants are closed, but we are told of a pizza restaurant just down the street, We make our way there and Don is excited not only about the food, but an opportunity to watch the Golden State Basketball players on TV. Hiker hunger has set in as we watch Norway down a large pizza that we were told can serve four. Back at the church we meet a woman from Germany that we had met the third day of our hike. Her name is now Ninja Fabric. She has a swollen ankle and is planning on taking several days of rest. We also meet Prince from England and Hollywood from the states. Hollywood is nursing a sore knee. Don and I are grateful for not having any major or minor injuries. River, Four Eyes and Gandolf arrive later in the evening. Tomorrow our plan is to have breakfast at Cravings then hitch back to the trail and resume hiking.
Miles hiked 16
We are up at 6 and meet Out of the Blue at Cravings for breakfast. We give this restaurant a 5 star rating. Don thought that it was the best corn beef hash he had ever eaten. My Belgian waffle covered with fresh fruit and whipped cream was amazing. With our stomachs full we go back to pack up our gear, get our resupply box and head down the trail. First though it is time to stick out the thumbs, we get a ride. The driver needs some gas to fill his tank, we agree and soon are back to hiking the trail. The trail is a steady up hill, but since we started at noon, we are only hiking a 10 mile day.
We stop at the midpoint of the PCT which is between the CA./ Mexico border and Washington/Canada border. Since we are not doing the whole trail it is more just a fyi.
We camp on a beautiful ridge tonight and have a great supper of beans and rice wrapped in a tortilla.
Miles hiked 10
It is a day of hiking on ridges, dropping down into forests and being surrounded by signs of volcanic activity. We like usual are impressed by new species of wild flowers. This one is definitely in the onion family.
Always glad to see one of my favorites.
A butterfly adds color to the trail
A deer is not bothered by our presence.
Even when it sees a human with strange looking ears.
The signs of volcanic activity surround the path.
We are impressed with the flowers that take root here.
In one day we encounter many different kinds of terrain.
We also start encountering the hikers who have gone thru the Sierras when it was buried in snow. Some stop to talk and tell us tales of dealing with the snow and cold. Several of the hikers we had met in April when we were doing the desert section. One woman we had met previously is called Road Runner. She is known as a 40 mile a day hiker when the conditions are good. Her pace slowed way down in the Sierras. She is probably the first woman thru the Sierras and most likely will be one of the first to reach Canada. She pauses to chat and we catch up on some of the hikers we know. We also meet Kit who we have heard about and not met. In the desert we found a pair of sunglasses and thought they might be hers. As she was a day ahead of us, we were never able to catch her. She was hiking with Pusher in the desert who we had met. He had hurt his ankle in the Sierras and had returned to Germany to recover. They were hoping to meet up later further down the trail when he returns. She tells us that we are going to encounter some snow, but that it is melting fast. We are heading towards cold spring, a well known spring used by the locals.
Not all deadfall is removed from the trail, but a lot of work has been done to make the hiking easier. We were impressed by this tree that had been cut.
We meet up with Out of the Blue and find another spring that has a great flow. A decision is made to camp here for the night.
Miles hiked 21
After climbing mostly uphill yesterday. today is going in the opposite direction. We have a lot of descending to do to get to Belden. We head down rocky ridges crossing numerous streams. Fortunately we are able to either rock hop across them or find a log that we can use.
We meet a woman who is out for the week. We say hello and continue on our way. She turns around and comes back to us. She has seen a group of tiger lilies at a spring and she wanted to make sure that we see them. We keep a lookout for Rattlesnake spring.
More new flowers appear and we are taken back by their beauty.
We are passing going in the opposite direction NOBO hikers who were some of the first to go thru the sierras. They have mixed reactions to what they experienced. Most are relieved that they made it thru, but not sure they would want to repeat the experience. Finally we see the river that we are hiking down to.
When we arrive to Belden, we discover that it is a resort. One that has seen better days. It still offers free camping for hikers, a place to take a shower and do laundry. There is also a restaurant that we plan on getting a meal later. Out of the Blue has decided that he is going to continue on and is able to order more food to be sent to the next couple of towns. Don and I head to Quincy which is a 30 mile hitch. We make a sign and are helped by the fact that there is road construction and cars have to stop close to where we are hitching. The second car picks us up and soon we are in Quincy and picking up our food resupply at the Post office. Don meets a hiker called Peer Pressure outside of the grocery store. He is heading back to Belden as well so now there are 3 of us hitching.
The bond of PCT hikers is a strong one. Often meetings are short, but when one meets again, it is like reconnecting with a good friend!
Miles hiked 13