Day 80: Meet Fluffy

Date: June 28, 2017 
Miles: 1347.8 – 1374.9 

“You Americans and your fluffy gear.” ~ Monster 

 Well, we almost did 30 miles today. We hiked from the Warner Valley Campground in to Old Station, which is a super tiny town that has an RV park, JJ’s cafe and a couple minit marts.

 Everyone is pretty friendly there…the food isn’t that great at the cafe, but the people that work there are awesome, and the minit mart offers free camping behind the building and water fill ups at the soda fountain. What else do we really need? We thought about going a few more miles out of town, but after a meal we all just wanted to stop walking. It had been a long day, especially for Roi, who had to get up early so he could get to the post office by 3 pm. It wasn’t the most exciting hike as the majority of the day was spent walking on flat, occasionally soggy ground through burned trees with hardly any wildlife to speak of, save one deer, a toad, some chipmunks and a lot of crows. 

 There were a couple water crossings early in the day that gave some variety to the morning. I lost my footing on one slippery log and ended up in a creek so I had to hike with wet feet for a while. Matthew got a new trail name – Fluffy – because of his love of ultralight gear and low base weight. We decided that Fluffy was too short so we kept coming up with names to add to it, like Fluffy the Wise, Fluffy Hasselhoff, Fluffy Von Beaverhausen, and Fluffy Von Beaverhausen Hasselhoff. I predict that the future possibilities will be endless. 

Some hitches are easier than others.

Day 79: Best Intentions

Date: June 27, 2017 
Miles: 1332.3 – 1347.8 

We entered Lassen Volcanic National Park today, which I’ve been looking forward to mainly because it is a dark sky area and I love seeing an abundance of stars in the sky when I go to bed. 

This year the park service is requiring backcountry campers to carry bear cans in the park because a certain ‘problem bear’ has been stealing packs and learned to climb trees and bite through hanging rope. We all sent our bear cans home in Sierra City so we planned to hike the 30 miles necessary to get all the way through the park so that we could avoid the requirement. 

Getting the problem bear scoop from a ranger.

However, 15 miles in we reached Drakesbad Guest Ranch, which offers showers, laundry and use of the hot springs pool with the purchase of a meal. The catch with the deal, though, is that hikers have to wait until the ranch’s regular guests have finished eating before they get their turn, presumably to avoid offending the guests with our appearance and also to make sure they don’t run out of food. So we grumbled a bit about it and then loitered outside the dining room, staring at everyone while they ate. Finally, they let us in to have at the leftovers, and halfway through our lunch, our plan to hike another 15 miles had morphed into laying by the pool trying to even out our weird tan lines. A bunch of other hikers apparently came up with the same plan. 

 Around 5 pm, we finally decided to leave, and one of the workers sent us off with a plate of cookies. We headed up the road a bit to camp at the Warner Valley Campground. We were joined by Aloha, who was hiking southbound from Ashland, and we had a fun dinner with lots of laughs. We went to bed early, with the promise to actually do 30 miles tomorrow. I didn’t notice any more stars than usual as I was falling asleep, but the sky was as expansive as always, and just as beautiful. 

A bit of trail magic.

Terminal Geyser.

Boiling Springs Lake, one of the hottest lakes in the world.

Day 78: I’m Not Homeless, I’m A Lawyer

Date: June 26, 2017 
Miles: 1320.6 – 1332.3 with nearo in Chester. 

I practically ran eight miles this morning so I could make it to the highway early and hitch a ride in to Chester to meet Matthew for pancakes. 

Nice, flat morning hike.

When I got to the highway, Roi and Monster were trying to get a ride but it was difficult since the trailhead was right in the middle of a construction zone. After waiting a few minutes for a pilot car to go by in the right direction, I stuck my thumb out and a truck pulled over. I think those boys’ hitches just needed a woman’s touch. 

Pancakes…one of the things we think about a LOT on trail.

The rest of the day was spent on resupply chores and mailing some things home (I’ve apologized to the boyfriend a hundred times for mailing home unwashed socks. He wasn’t fazed. That’s a keeper.) 

 I had a temporary crisis of identity in the Dollar General as I was standing in one of the aisles looking emaciated, covered in dirt, stinking to high heaven and scratching the mosquito bites on my legs with the grocery basket I was holding. I noticed a lady looking at me out of the corner of her eye, likely trying to figure out whether I was homeless or just choosing to be offensive, and my first impulse was to turn toward her and yell, ‘I’m a lawyer, ok?!?’  but my next thought was that yelling at a stranger in my condition would probably just make everyone there think I’m homeless and also crazy so I kept my mouth shut, grabbed some tuna packets and left.  As minor as that incident was, however, it left me thinking that I sure don’t feel like a lawyer anymore. I’m not sure what or who I feel like sometimes, other than tired, dirty and hungry. Although for now, that’s enough. 

The trail passes through a patchwork of public and private lands.

Keeping hikers from escaping and roaming wild.

Unexploded ordnance, shooting ranges and falling trees…some of our hazards don’t come from Mother Nature.

A church that lets hikers camp on their lawn and recharge devices, which is greatly appreciated.