We made it out of the never ending forest and it’s awesome! Today we got excellent views and that made me feel great, plus we started the day with a sleep in till 7am and a breakfast burrito and 1/2 a buckwheat waffle. Pretty deluxe. I (Quiz) was glad about the sleep in as it has been so hot recently that sleeping at all has been tricky, I don’t think i cooled down to a comfortable level till midnight last night.
We took out time with breakfast and downloading podcasts with the Ranch’s wifi, so it wasn’t till 10 that we set off into sparse forest that we knew would turn into the infamous Hat Creek Rim mini desert. But surprise surprise we walked past a lush lake full of fishermen and of course Pinecone and I had a swim (even though we’re only 2 miles from camp)! It was warm enough for Mushy to wade and that means it’s actually really hot. We met Pitstop and Yeti, our pals from Kennedy Meadows by the river, it’s was nice to catch up and we hope to meet up with this bubble of our friends in Oregon.
Collecting 4L of water for the coming dry stretch we loaded our heavy packs onto our back and set out to see what this desert was all about. We made it 4 miles before the heat beat us and we conked out by a big shady tree next to a small water cache. We had been walking steadily uphill on a gentle gradient through huge volcanic plains scattered with lava rocks and broken occasionally by huge banks of lava, purplish black. Our path all day would alternate between dusty or rocks intent on tripping you up.
After a 2.5hr verge out, we congratulated ourselves at how good we were at hiking in the desert and hit the trail. Of course our break was strategic as 2pm is the hottest part of the day, 36.C. Unfortunately when we left at 4pm it was still 35.C, and the sweat dripped off our faces like we were in a shower. There were trees about and the patchy shade did make things better.
After a few miles we arrived at the rim and after a steep climb through undiluted lava rocks we hit the crest and cruised along with beautiful views and a cool breeze. We could see for miles and it made me so happy. Lassen in one direction and Shasta in the other and a huge flat plain of pines and yellow grass in between. The edge of the rim dropped off suddenly so you really felt so removed from valley below.
We met 2 hikers in the afternoon, which by PCT standards is no one. We had just missed trail magic but a day after town we didn’t really mind. We passed some dams and a gate and entered a paddock full of cattle, who where plump shy and curious, coming up to us then running away. The dust they caused on the trail looked very dramatic in the long evening sunlight.
After a final climb we made it to camp at Cache 66, a play on words but I haven’t read the book. A trail angle very kindly keeps a 500 gallon tank in the middle of this dry stretch. We cooked dinner in the dying light and got into bed, tonight we’re cowboy camping in the cow paddock. It’s cooler than it’s been for a while and we are all hoping for good sleeps, goodnight xx