Day: Friday, August 5th 2016
Miles: 1388.2 – 1408.1
Hat Creek Rim Comms Tower Remote Camp – Burney Mountain Guest Ranch 1408.1
After an interesting nights cowboy camping, with some visits by little and not so little critters, I enjoyed my coffee with a glorious cloud specked sunset over a largely featureless landscape, treeless, waterless and virtually devoid of features on the eastern side. At this point, such a barren landscape is quite the novelty and interesting in itself. Areas one might dismiss as ugly, boring or desolate are strangely captivating after the abundance of mountainous riches we’ve enjoyed. Maybe that’s a lesson in itself from the Pacific Crest Trail. Contentment and happiness from the simple things.
In trying to beat the Suns advance into the sky, I decamped quickly, another advantage of cowboy camping. Hitting the trail aiming for the funnily named Cache 22 at forest road 22 for a small refill. The trail further followed the very edge of hat creek rim and provided amazing views down to the valley below as well as the mighty Shasta ahead. The moods of the landscape changed rapidly as the sun rose with rich golden colors fading as the heat haze advanced. I reached the cache after a short and effortless downhill section, and given how little water I had consumed last night I really didn’t need the cache at all, but welcomed an opportunity to add a half liter to my reserves. This had all of the marks of a Devilfish cache with his little box of helpful pills and wipes, sanitizers and chargers for use whilst people tested during the day.
Once I finished with the cache, the next target was a dam quite a few miles further on, with a descent to the valley floor and some potential for magic if I was truly lucky around one of the highway break offs for the town of Burney. I was fully suppling through a mailed box at Burney Falls ahead, so I had no need to go to Burney itself, but I knew of many hikers taking the hitch for a zero day or a quick replenishment of their food to get them thru to the Mt.Shasta area. The heat during the morning increased to a level that was certainly challenging, and the terrain of rough volcanic rock in places underfoot seemed to intensify the temperature. The views back to the moauntains and ahead however helped keep my momentum with a constantly changing landscape.
Enjoying some sheltered terrain closing in on the dam, I was maintaining a good speed this morning and realized I might make it to Burney Falls much earlier than expected today. As a result I decided to drop into the Burney Falls Guest Ranch where I met some other hikers and enjoyed a pleasant afternoon with shower and laundry, so pleasant in fact that I decided to have a big burrito dinner and rest for the evening given the high mileage I had covered recently had not been matched with a proper feet-up rest day. The ranch was hugely welcoming and I shared the stay with another Irish hiker called RealIrish (controversial name!) as well as Sabre and AnMei. The rest was really good as the facilities were excellent and Linda was really doing her best to cater for the needs of Thruhikers in a very thoughtful and welcoming manner. Saving some dollars for another night, I camped in the area beside the ranch and enjoyed a nice starry sky surrounded by the mountains rested and refreshed.