Day 94: Drakesbad Guest Ranch (Mile 1353.5)-Badger Mountain (Mile 1371); 17.5 miles
After a hearty breakfast at the Drakesbad Guest Ranch, we set out northward on the Pacific Crest Trail. The trail was mostly flat and the weather pleasant, with a few puffy clouds forming over Lower Twin Lake.
We walked through a spacious pine forest. Wildflowers and small clusters of grass grew where gaps in the tree canopy allowed light to reach the ground.
This forest was perfect for camping, and at night we easily found a flat campsite amidst the trees, well cushioned by pine needles.
Day 95: Badger Mountain (Mile 1371)-Hat Creek Rim (Mile 1392.5); 21.5 miles
The morning walk was flat and easy going.
We took an extended lunch break at the Subway Cave campground because we were about to enter a hot 30 mile waterless stretch. We planned to hike as far as we could today between 4 PM and dark, then rise with the sun the following morning to minimize our time walking in the heat.
Even though we began walking at 4 PM, it was still hot. We sweated profusely as we walked along Hat Creek Rim, which was 1000 nearly vertical feet above Hat Creek. The views were wonderful, but there was little shade, since sections of the forest on the rim were burned and logged.
As we crested a ridge, it was exciting to view Mt. Shasta for the first time. Shasta was huge and beautiful, and it represented for us the boundary between California and Oregon.
We walked until about 9 PM when the scattered rocks in the trail became hard to see. Then, by headlamp, we quickly set up camp.
Day 96: Hat Creek Rim (Mile 1392.5)-Above Baum Lake (Mile 1414.5); 22 miles
We rose before the sun to walk in the cool morning air. We passed through muted green sagebrush and dry grass.
Behind us, the rim above Hat Creek stretched back for miles and Mt. Lassen filled out the landscape.
As the day heated up, we reached a water cache called Cache 22. We could have made the full 30 mile stretch without the cache, but it was good to replenish our water even so. After the cache we saw a rabbit and some birds drinking from the stagnant pool pictured at the beginning of this post. We were very happy we didn’t need to join them!
Black lava rocks were strewn about much of the terrain, and the entire area was marked on our map as “lava”.
In the afternoon, we heard thunder and could see heavy rain dropping from the clouds on our left. The wind was quickly blowing the storm in our direction. The sky in front of us remained blue and clear, though, so we scurried along and were able to outpace the storm. Only a refreshing sprinkle fell on us.
Near the end of the day we filled our water containers at an inlet to Baum Lake. There we saw many waterfowl, in stark contrast to the trail we’d walked earlier.
Day 97: Above Baum Lake (Mile 1414.5)-Near Rock Creek (Mile 1430); 15.5 miles
In the morning, we walked nine flat dry miles through short pines. This flat walking, and that of the past few days, helped North Star’s shins continue to heal.
At Burney Falls State Park, we picked up a resupply food package and a lighter bear canister.
Before we left, we checked out Burney Falls, the park’s main attraction. The falls were large and impressive in the variety of paths the water took to reach the bottom. In fact, this was one of the most beautiful waterfalls we had seen anywhere.
Hiking on for a few miles, we reached Rock Creek, which flowed through a steep, rocky canyon. After filling our water containers, we set up camp a mile down the trail.