Day: Thursday, August 4th 2016
Miles: 1374.8 – 1388.2
Old Station Fillup 1374.8 – Hat Creek Communications Tower 1388.2
Today was not so much a Hat Trick, as a cheeky ill-conceived reference to the ascent to the similar sounding Hat Creek, or Hat Creek Rim as it can properly be identified, a much loathed dry section of trail between the towns of Old Station and Burney in Northern California. This section inspires fear, hitching, thoughts of imminent death or a minimum of mild water-focused paranoia for most hikers. In my case I woke up this morning with a severe sense of lethargy which I channeled into a morning at the local cafe JJ’s, loafing, internetting and socializing, in a effort to avoid any movement towards the long-water carry and hot exposed ridge ahead of me. My strategy proved to be hugely successful as I made new friends, caught up with old friends who were behind me and sat-out a burning hot day of sun that would have done little to assist my current contentment moving through the perilous low ridges of NorCal.
Waking up in the backyard of a gas station in a dusty hamlet isn’t top of anybodies todo list but this morning it worked out well, as I made my morning commute 500ft to JJ’s. I managed to blow 8 hours in there, eating breakfast and lunch, conversing with locals, a Tasmanian cyclist on his way to Seattle and a bunch of other hikers. It was a fabulous morning and around 4PM I ventured out of there towards tonight’s goal, getting as much of Hat Creek Rim completed.
The rim is a large exposed ridge devoid of any shade thanks to a previous forest fire. With this combination and no water it’s a lengthy and challenging proposition, tempered with incredible views of the Hat Creek valley, mountains south and up through to Mt.Shasta ahead. I was particularly excited about the latter now that Mt.Lassen was all but in my rear view mirror. The first ascent to a rest area on the highway across the ridge was straightforward, and the realization that this initial climb largely represented the most difficult part of the day ensured the rest of the night could be spent admiring the view as the sun set gently in the west. As a result I made some great progress, hauling a large water load but not terribly affected by any altitude gain, it was largely a moot distraction.
Initial views back to Mt.Lassen highlighted the ridges I had just circumnavigated.
Eventually the beauty in the distasnce in the form of Shasta emerged. A worthy goal to aim for over the coming days.
As the sun fell lower, the colors changed through a wildly varying palette of pinks and oranges in all directions:
Finally looking across to the mass of Burney Mountain, I hit my goal at a forest service communications tower, electing to cowboy camp on a concrete void where a structure once stood. Not entirely sure why the rim was so infamous, I enjoyed a very contented nights sleep, only visited by some of the kangaroo mice I passed on the trail earlier, who seemed a little too inept to try their luck at my food bag, instead wandering aimlessly on the concrete hoping a crumb night have been dropped by an earlier hiker!