Trail Update #8: Goodbyes and New Adventures

Day 88, 6:30 AM / Burney, CA

Hey everyone – I’m gonna try to keep it short today because I want to get back to the trail, but we’ll see how that goes.

Since I last wrote we’ve been hiking through one of the least-liked sections of trail. It’s hot, hot, hot again and water on the trail is in some places scarce. We haven’t been in wilderness areas for the most part lately, instead going through stretches of forest that have been heavily logged or burned and crossing lots of dusty gravel roads as we go.

There were a couple notably nice stops on the last stretch, though… Lassen was awesome. I’d been before years ago and liked it just as much this time around. The trail goes right through Lassen National Park and almost right by some of its main attractions, so we were able to see some of the geothermal activity of the area in the form of a sulfurous, steaming vat called the Terminal Geyser as well as a big hot greenish pool of near-boiling water.

Me living on the edge at Lassen

Another notable stretch was the Hat Creek Rim, a 29-mile exposed dry stretch on a high plateau overlooking the Hat Creek valley. The ground on the rim is made of porous volcanic rock, so all water seeps through it to a hidden creek way underneath. We started at 4:30 pm, climbing up onto the rim while it was still really hot but continuing through the cool evening hours and through the sunset. We slept from 10pm to 4pm and finished at 10:45am, mercifully avoiding the worst of the heat. It was beautiful up there; we had views of Mt. Lassen behind us and Mt.Shasta 70 miles ahead of us. As the sun was setting we could only see Shasta’s silhouette, but in the early morning as the sky became pink, Shasta came to life. Tall and imposing and covered in snow, Shasta in the pink light of the sunrise was something impressive.

It was two days ago that we finished hiking the rim, and we ended that day’s hike at Burney Falls State Park, capping out at 28 miles for Ben and Mathew’s last day on the trail. Yesterday morning we went to the falls, which really were amazing, and then hitched into town for a last day together.

Oh, we also passed the PCT midpoint marker in the last week, so for the first time since being on this trail I’m closer to Canada than to Mexico! I guess that’s something to feel proud about, but it also just means I still have 1325 (or about 1235 from where I am now) more miles to hike.

I just said goodbye to Emily, Ben, and Mathew. They got on a bus to Redding a bit ago and will soon be boarding flights out of here. Emily is going to visit family in Maryland for a week and a half (we’ll meet back up in Ashland), and Ben and Mathew are off to get ready for P-Wild and the beginning of their senior year. It was really hard to say goodbye to Mathew, though not as hard as other goodbyes have been. Long distance is not nearly as scary when you’ve done it before.

From here, I’m going solo for a while. It’s kind of exciting! Such a big shift makes it feel like I’m setting out on a whole new trip from here. I think it will be really good for me to set my own schedule for a while, and I’m looking forward to being sort of forced to expand my social life on the trail. The only thing I’m not so much looking forward to is cooking dinner and setting up camp by myself… it’s really nice to be with people when you’re settling down for the night. I’m also not sure what to expect from hiking all day every day with nothing but my thoughts, but I’ll be avoiding that circumstance by listening to audiobooks and podcasts. Speaking of things to listen to, I’m happily accepting music recommendations since I don’t really have the time to find new music on my own… anything that you think would be helpful while hiking or that will make me want to dance!

Alright folks I’ll call that good for now! Sorry to be so brief, but I’ve got 300 miles left of California and better get started. Thanks for tuning in! Big hugs!

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