July 18, 2017
Warner Valley Campground – Mile 1373.98 (1347.78-1373.98)
We actually had to listen to our 5am alarm for the first time in a while this morning. We were a bit slower getting ready than we maybe should have been, but we were still the first hikers up and out of camp, which felt kind of good after days of being lazy assholes. The morning was actually pretty cold, which is another thing we haven’t experienced in a while. Luckily the day started with a climb to get us nice and warmed up.
We spent most of the morning in the forest again, stopping in a sunny open area for breakfast to avoid the mosquito swarms. After a while, we wound around a couple of beautiful lakes, the sun glistening over their wind rippled surfaces. We passed a ton of different people today, including a boy scout troop who were eager to question us, and a couple who were being stalked by a deer. We saw them approaching us, and then noticed the deer running along the trail behind them. We motioned for them to turn around and they responded with, “Oh, the deer? Yeah, we know.” Turns out she had been following them for about a mile, getting scared off the trail every time they crossed paths with another hiker, only to resume chasing after them after the other person had moved on. We watched this happen after they had passed us. It was definitely bizarre.
We spent a large portion of the day walking though a large burn area, which is another thing we haven’t seen in a while. There were miles and miles of dead, white trees standing in grassy fields. Some parts of it were quite beautiful, as wildflowers had filled in the open areas and coloured the ground with purples, yellows, and whites. We stopped for lunch in an area where we got great views of Mount Lassen, looming ever closer. Shortly after lunch, we crossed the park boundary, thus leaving the land of aggressive bears.
The elevation profile for the day was great. We had a couple of small climbs in the morning, but the rest of the day was either flat or gradually descending, so we were making great time. When we got to Hat Creek, I stuck my head right in the creek and washed the filth off my legs and arms. It felt so good. It’s starting to feel like the desert again, hot and dusty, which I guess makes sense since we are approaching what is known to be one of the driest sections of the trail. When we left the creek, I put on some music and was just cruising along for a while, but soon my body started to slow. The last few miles of the day were tough. My feet were starting to hurt, and I was just tired. We eventually decided to stop when we hit the distance of a marathon, 26.2 miles, making this the longest mile day I’ve ever hiked in my life. It was exhausting.
Tonight’s dinner: vomit (aka Spanish rice + mayo) burrito with cheese. Delicious.
When we got to camp, we had a good long stretch, which felt incredible, and after sitting for a while and eating, our energy started to return. Tomorrow, we’ll be hitting a side trail almost right away that will take us to a lava tube cave, which should be really cool. Then we’ll tackle Hat Creek Rim, the notoriously long dry stretch. I’m definitely happy with the miles we made today, especially considering we haven’t even done a 20 mile day since the day before Kennedy Meadows. I just hope my body doesn’t hate me too much tomorrow.