Saturday, July 16, 2016

Day 77 : Lost Creek Trail Junction

28 miles today
1267 miles to go

I retrieve my food unmolested by bear, deer, or any other creature for that matter. I sit in my tent before the dawn and eat my breakfast. I finish and am packed by the time the sun peeks through the trees. I'm off! Right after the lake is a burned section. No shade from trees, but I'm early enough that it's still shaded by an entire mountain. On and on it goes. The only redeeming feature is that I can see Mt Lassen rather than just trees. Camped in the burn is BFG. I chat for a few minutes and then move on. There are no dramatic climbs or descents. Eventually I get through the burn and find myself back in the trees. BFG catches up and passes me. We both have a plan to eat at JJ’s cafe in Old Station. I arrive at JJ’s around lunch time after traveling twenty miles in a little under six hours. That's a little over three miles per hour. My goal is to maintain that pace for the rest of the hike. BFG invites me to come back to the table he's sitting at. I meet a few Thru-hikers I have not met before. I already forgot their names. I order a bacon cheeseburger and a root beer. I've taken up drinking soda because it has calories. Free refills equals free calories. The service is slow but friendly and helpful. I'm not in a hurry so I didn't mind the wait. I was able to charge my phone and my external battery and use their free wifi. I sat in there long after my food was eaten and they didn't kick me out. There is a twenty nine mile waterless stretch from here going north. Well it's not really waterless. About eight miles in there is a new trail cut down to Lost Creek. It's about a third of a mile and supposed to be really steep. This section can be really hot and there isn't much shade. People are loading up on water, six or seven liters. I don't want to carry that much. Eventually I'm the only Thru-hiker left, still charging my battery and phone. I decide ninety-eight percent on my phone is close enough. I don't know how much charge my external battery got, but it's more than it had. I pay my bill and head over to the Fill Up gas station / convienence store. I'm looking for ice cream. A pint would be nice. The friendly cashier directs back to the ice cream cooler but alas, no pints. Too bad. I settle for a coffee crunch ice cream bar. Taste good but not enough. I sit outside in front in the shade with BFG. He's planning on night hiking all the way through the dry section. I look at the thermometer, eighty degrees. That's not very hot. I go into the store and ask if I can fill my water container. “Sure,” the friendly cashier says. I fill up about two and a half liters plus another three quarter liters in my water bottle. That should be plenty to get me eight miles in to the Lost Creek trail no matter how hot it is. I decide I will hike to there and camp. Then I only have to walk a twenty one mile dry section tomorrow. If I do that in the morning I can do it on two liters of water like I did today. 

Hiking the Hat Creek Rim, the dry section, is really fun in spite of the potential heat. It's not really that hot today and there is a pleasant breeze keeping it pretty comfortable. The views are amazing, but dangerous. The trail is really rocky and if I want to look at the view I have to stop walking or risk stubbing my toes on rocks. I do this a couple of times before I learn to ignore the view and look at the trail. After my three hour rest at JJ’s I feel great and the miles fly by. I get to the trail junction to Lost Creek and find XT, Lid, and Next Time sitting and eating in the shade. They plan on night hiking too. Before they leave XT and Lid want to go down to Lost Creek and get more water. I setup my tent and grab my water container, water bottle, and microfilter. I drink the entire three quarter liters in my water bottle on the way down. The trail is super steep and dusty. At the bottom is Lost Creek pouring out from under the rocks in the lava flow. Ice cold clear clean water. This is why I brought my microfilter. A fresh cold bottle of water. I drink some and then fill my water container with two liters. I have a liter and a half left in my tent, plus this two leaves my three and a half after I finish my ice cold bottle of water. I need about one and a half liters for dinner and breakfast. That should leave me with two liters for hiking which should be enough if I leave at my normal early hour and tomorrow isn't significantly hotter than today. Sounds complicated but really I'm calculating that I don't have to carry more than two liters of water through the dry section. I cook dinner and visit with the others while they eat their dinner. XT and Lid are studdly trail Angels. They both carried an empty gallon jug with them down to the water, filled it in addition to their own water and carried the extra water back up to the junction for use by whomever might be in need of it. I think that's really cool. Exercising there power to dispense grace on someone they don't even know. Trail Magic!

Everybody moves on leaving me alone on the Hat Creek Rim. It's pretty up here and I'm betting the breeze dies down tonight making it a great place to sleep. I take some pictures in the sunset light then climb into my tent after completing my evening chores. The air cools down and I climb into my bag and nestle under the cozy goose down. A great day of hiking and I am finally feeling healthy and strong. My legs and feet are not giving me any kind of unusual or abnormal pains beyond the normal pain of walking for twenty plus miles. Yay! This is really starting to be more fun than work.

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