Date: Friday, 23 June 2017
Start: Camped by the trail at Hat Creek Rim Lookout at Mile 1388.2, 5121 ft
Finish: Burney Mountain Guest Ranch, 0.3 miles from Mile 1407.3, 3327 ft
Daily Miles: 19.1, + 0.3 to Ranch
Total PCT Miles: 867.0
Weather: Hot and sunny
Accommodation: Bunk in dorm (one other resident) at Burney Mountain Guest Ranch
Dinner: Brisket, potato salad, and salad, and ice cream
Aches: Right shoulder still giving me some trouble. I often have to walk with the shoulder strap loose on that side so that my left shoulder and waistbelt are taking all of the pack weight.
Highlight: Surviving the heat across the old lava fields and reaching my goal, the Burney Mountain Guest Ranch, at the relatively early hour of 4:00pm. I didn’t really realise how hot it was until I emerged from the air conditioned office back into the afternoon heat for the walk to my dorm.
Lowlight: The heat.
Pictures: Click here
Another restless night for some reason. I’m in my new tent, and not using the fly sheet so that I am sleeping under the stars, but I doubt that explains it. I think it may be more an issue of temperature, where it is still quite warm when I retire, but cools rapidly after the sun sets, meaning I am constantly adjusting my sleeping bag to compensate during the night.
Anyway, I was up at 5:45am and on the trail at 6:30am, with the goal of reaching the Burney Mountain Guest Ranch, 19 miles away, where I should be able to get a bed, meals, a shower, and do a load of laundry. The trail had no water available for the first 15 miles (though one report said there was a farm pond after 5 miles), and was to continue along the Hat Creek Rim, before crossing a relatively recent lava field. It was going to be exposed and it was going to be hot, so I knew that I was going to need to just keep plugging away and drinking plenty.
Mistakenly, I decided to trust that I would be able to get water after 5 miles, but when I reached the farm pond it looked extremely unappetizing, with green scum on top and cow tracks all around. I decided to trust that I could cover the next 11 miles on the one litre I had left, and kicked myself for not carrying more from where I was camped. The going was relatively easy, apart from the rocky/dusty surface, and I continued to stumble frequently, but didn’t fall. The trail along the escarpment continued to give good views to Mt Shasta (getting closer) and Lassen Volcano (falling away behind), and across the Hat Creek valley.
In late morning, the trail descended westward from the escarpment, and began crossing an old lava field, with little shade, and occasionally very rocky trail. With the lower elevation came warmer temperatures. But, I was a man on a mission, and despite growing thirst, just tried to keep up a good pace, and was thankful for my new slightly broader-rimmed hat. With 7 miles to go to water, I drank half a litre and decided to drink the rest after another four miles, but two miles later came across two large water containers left by a trail angel. Fantastic! They were in the sun, so the water was warm, but I still drank 1.5 litres and added a litre to my supplies, before continuing on.
With three miles to go, I reached a stream and immediately filled my hat with icy cold water and just poured it over my head and shoulders. Magic! For the last three miles, the terrain changed, and started with a walk past a small hydro power station, and then alongside Baum Lake, which was quite pleasant, apart from the mosquitoes. The last mile or so, though, was climbing away from the lake and it got very hot again. I was very glad to reach the Guest Ranch (which is very Christian-themed……the WiFi password is ‘living4Jesus’) and was welcomed by the owner with a cup of ice cream. As with the last Guest Ranch I stayed at, everything is done on an honesty system with ready access to the small store and keeping your own tab until checkout.
I have a bunk in a small comfortable dorm and have showered and laundered my clothes as well as enjoying the set-meal dinner. It’s going to be hot again tomorrow. There are about ten PCT hikers here, mostly camped in the shade of trees, but I don’t think many of them hiked today. The exception was the Canadian girl from Toronto, who I have met a number of times in the last month, who came in an hour after me.
It’s going to be hot again tomorrow.