NOBO Day 84/85Highway 89 trail head to Drakesbad Guest Ranch 30.5 kms

This stretch was broken into two, however the first day we only did 3 miles. 3 easy miles to ease our bodies back into hiking. “What’s that?” My shoulders said, “huh!” Said my back and legs and “ugh” went my lungs. Aside from that it was great to be back on trail, really great. Our moods lifted as the sound of cars and civilisation faded into the background.

An inquisitive deer in camp

We stopped at stover spring, set up the tent between two caravans. One, the whole Shabang complete with a generator, a wheely bin, the smell of BBQ cascading out the windows, two rat dogs and grey nomad owners to complete the picture. I counted 3 trucks, all huge. The other modest caravan was surrounded in bags of rubbish and the inhabitants didn’t arrive until after it had dark (aka after our bedtime). I slept restlessly somehow a week off trial put me on edge for bears. None came, but be warned if you plan to sleep here a logging truck comes in from 2 am every few hours to refill water from a algae filled pond which the spring feeds. We only saw the Spring this morning because it’s up trail from the camp ground. There is a sweet clean stream though you can use aswell.

We stopped after 6 miles at the Feather River to swim. It’s the same river that passes through Belden, yet at this point isn’t as swollen. What does the water that flows down the Feather see I wonder. Which beautiful, isolated places must it pass, which animals thirst does it quench. There is so much landscape unknown to us, places still a little bit wild.

Ollie and his prayer book.

The water was freezing, it sent painful chills through our feet as we attempted to submerge our bodies in the shallow river edge. I lowered my body into the water clumsily, held onto a protruding rock and let the current grab my hair and peel it down my back. The water hit my face and my chest, stealing my breath in the way that only freezing water can and i quickly resurfaced. As quickly as the jagged rocks would allow i scrambled down stream to a rock where we stood like naked penguins warming our pink bodies in the sun. 

We filtered water and Ollie read me a prayer. He took a portal prayer book from the church in Chester and ive been subject to daily readings. Lucky me. 

Today’s walking was easy, meandering up and down through the forest. We stopped by a stream just before the boundary of the national park for lunch and watched some south bound hikers pass by. There were many southies actually. It was a quick downhill to Drakesbad and we came upon a bunch of day hikers aswell. One guy was trying to hit all of California’s national parks over the summer. Drakesbad is nestled into a valley and you walk along a board walk to get there. It’s simple and unassuming with a bunch of staff Doug various jobs. 

Walking into Drakesbad Guest Ranch

There has been some confusion around Drakesbad so here is the low down. It’s very simple, no wifi, there are horses though. You can use the pool and showers – they give you towels etc. You can also pay for a meal, which occurs at the times provided by Guthooks. We had dinner it was a BBQ (it was a Wednesday) and was delish. Word on the street is that lunch is the best or breakfasts as they are always buffet, and dinner is usually a plate (we got lucky BBQ is buffet). There is no camping however, .5 of a mile up the road is Warner Valley campground. It’s $16 a site and if there’s lots of you which there is tonight and was last night it’s practically free. Our payment was a few brownies pocketed from dinner. 

Hanging out Ranch Style

We ate with a couple from San Franciso, and the husbands father, he is 98 and still works as an attorney. They had been coming here for 58 years. We had baked spuds, salad, corn on the cob, there is a choice of 4 meats (you can have all of you want), veggie patties and grilled veggies, there was fresh made lemonade, coleslaw, and brownies and cookies for desert. It’s a pretty setting and I’m sure a welcome relief from city life for many. We are spoilt out on the trail though and it was an easy goodbye to our much loved isolation. 

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