7.19.18. 29.6 miles.
Almost back-to-back 30 mile days! Today was extremely challenging, partly because when looking ahead I didn’t think it would be bad, and partly because of the heat. But I got trail magic TWICE today!
I slept in a little and started getting ready at 5. It was so nice to use a flush toilet. One of the worst things is digging a cathole in the morning when you really have to go. River was also ready to go at 5:45 so we hiked off together, making a detour for the Subway Cave, a super cool lava tube that’s a short half mile detour off of the PCT. It was pretty awesome and I’d love to go back and walk the whole tube.
I took off in front of River and began the short climb up to the Hat Creek Overlook, a drive-up viewpoint where you can see lots of mountains, in particular, Mt. Lassen and Mt. Shasta. The smoke was pretty bad in the distance though so I could only see the very tip of Mt. Shasta. It’s cool to see another mountain though!! I’ve always loved driving up 5 and seeing Shasta, and now I get to look at it for a while while walking! Hopefully the smoke clears up so I can actually see it.
River and I left the overlook after emptying out trash and chatting with a nice Hispanic family from Beaverton about the PCT. They were so impressed/ thought we were kind of crazy! But he knew a woman who walked some of the California Coastal and Oregon Coast trails.
The hiking this morning was not difficult, it just got hot super quickly. I passed River while he was off trail getting water. The Hat Creek Rim is a very long dry section where the only natural water is steeply off trail and the only other water is at a cache. Hot Mess & Butters told me the cache was full when they went through so I decided to wait until the cache to get water. It was 16 miles from Old Station to the cache. Near the top of the second very gradual climb, there was some trail magic in the form of coolers with partially frozen water bottles, cuties, and granola bars. I grabbed a cutie and a mostly frozen water bottle, which was amazing.
After the snack break, I had my eyes set on the top of the gradual climb where supposedly there was decent shade and AT&T service by a large communication tower. Sounded like a nice spot for a short break! Once I got there though, my world tuned upside down! I saw a neon green sign near the intersection of trail with a dirt road that said “Katie’s Senior Project”. I instantly knew something awesome was coming my way! They had canopies, camp chairs, ice cold water and Gatorade, and fed me an egg salad sandwich, baby carrots, fruit, and STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE. YUM. They even had frozen towels doused in eucalyptus oil. Ahhh like a spa. Everyone was so nice! The girl, Katie, was doing multiple rounds of trail magic, interviewing PCT hikers at the trail magic, and helping with PCT trail maintenance as her senior project for high school! She was so sweet, and her advisor is a section hiker whose son and his then-girlfriend hiked NOBO last year! They were so kind and generous and were really nice to talk to. Katie told me and River about her involvement with FFA (Future Farmers of America), which was very timely as I just listened to a podcast that mentioned how there aren’t enough young people getting into farming in America, meanwhile our farmer population is aging quickly. She agreed with this statistic and seemed happy to hear that other people knew & cared about America’s impending farmer crisis. This trail magic was just so awesome. And they picked such a prime spot. It was definitely at least 90 degrees when I came through and that magic was so clutch.
After exchanging social media, I needed to head off, as I still had at least 16 more miles to hike and it was 12:30! I put on some podcasts and started hiking again. It was even hotter than before. The next few miles to the water cache weren’t too bad. Mostly downhill. I got to the cache and River and Buns, who I briefly met in the desert, were hanging out in the shade. I filled up on water, ate a few snacks, and relaxed for a little before getting up and hiking on.
The rest of the afternoon was pretty miserable. The views were gorgeous, but the trail was pretty lava rocky at times, and it was so hot, that hiking was just not fun. At one point, about 5 miles from the next water, I needed to rest in the shade because I was just so worn out and the heat was killing me. I ended up sitting there for about 1 hour waiting for the sun to start going down, so it would cool off. It finally got below 90 so I started hiking again.
The hiking after that went pretty quick. I did the 5 miles in about 1.75 hours, getting to the next water source and tentsite at 8:30. River was already there so I pitched my tent and joined him. I’m so looking forward to getting to Burney Mountain Guest Ranch tomorrow to take a nice long nearo!