I heard several hikers pass me in the night and early morning, but I managed to drag myself out of bed at 4:45 and get hiking by 5:15. The hiker hobble was worse than normal since I only got five hours of rest, but it eventually warmed up and I was on my way to the desert again.
The morning was a continuation of the evening walk along the bluff overlooking the desert floor. But the difference now was that you could see how wide it was and how hot it looked. Up on the bluff there was a nice cool breeze, but who knows what it would be like down there. The photo shows the mountains on the other side of the desert floor that I must get to before I fry.
I got to the water cache by 10:30 and loaded up one more liter just in case. I had three liters, but now had 13.3 miles to go to next water. You can’t trust that the caches will still have water when you get there, and this one was getting low. It had a food cache as well, but every morsel had long been consumed. I found out later that the caretaker restocked it a few hours after I left.
I looked on down the bluff and when I got to the point where it was time to climb down from the bluff onto the desert floor, I looked around for places to hide from the sun. There were a few that were good now, but by 3 PM the shade would be in the wrong place. It was 12:00 so I decided to go for it and hopefully the last 8 miles across the desert would be finished by 2:30.
I wasn’t even thirty minutes into the desert when I got sleepy and wanted to rest. I found a pair of pine trees that offered good shade, so I rolled out the mat right on top of the bushes and crashed. I rested for about an hour then thought about getting up and going on. I was hungry, so I ate instead. I stayed long enough that it made sense just to stay there until at least 4 PM.
While I lounged there, four other hikers passed me in the heat of the day. Two of them I knew, but two I did not know, but had seen one in Old Station at the restaurant. If they could brave it, then so could I. I managed to get hiking again by 4:15, but staying under that pine tree got sap all over my gear, including in my hair. I’ll deal with that later.
It was hot, but the hiking was not bad except for the rough lava rock. It took me a full two hours To make the last five and a half miles, but I finally made the creek. The water was not cold, but it was cool, and I dumped my last four ounces and loaded up with fresh cool water. I drank at least a liter and a half on the spot as well. I figured I only needed to carry two liters, so I topped up and headed out. My feet were killing me from the rocks,.but I had to go on.
I passed the dam and saw several fishermen all fishing the outlet of the dam. Seems an odd place to fish, but for four guys to fish the same spot, there must be something to it. I passed the fish hatchery next. That was pretty cool. Their breeding tanks were covered with nets I am assuming to keep birds from eating all the young fish. The whole thing was fed by fresh flow from the lake and they had a neat contraption to filter the water with a screen and a mechanism to keep the screen clean as well.
I had three options ahead of me. I have boxes at Burney falls state park, so I have to stop there at some point to pick up my packages. It is about ten miles away. They have tent sites for a fee, showers, and laundry. It’s too far to make tonight. Option two is to hitch into the town of Burney and get a hotel which would cost about $90 and they have laundry, too. The road is four miles away and the hitch seven miles. Option three is Burney Mountain Resort which has bunk rooms or tentsites plus meals, showers, and laundry for $100 and it’s two miles away, but I won’t get there until 7:30, which means I would miss dinner. I decide on a modified option one which is camp before the road and just go into the park in the morning and just do everything there.
There is a campsite up ahead but the register comments say there are red ants everywhere. I check it out and there are lots of flat spots, so I pick one and there are ants, but not more than normal. I set up the tent, then go off to cook dinner. The mosquitoes and yellow jackets are out, but I manage to cook and eat without going insane.
When I return to the tent, I find the ground cloth and everything that was on it is overrun with ants. Great. I spend the next twenty minutes removing ants and hanging everything in the trees. Nothing is left on the ground, and the ants slowly disappear. I am sure they will reappear, but I’ll just make sure there is nothing of interest to them. Well, not thirty minutes after settling in, I have discovered that they have made a trail up the side of the tent to go after my sweaty shirt, which is hanging in the vestibule. Super. They are not getting inside the tent, but there are a few in here, so I spend ten minutes squashing ants.
I get settled in and start to blog when I hear a crashing noise in the woods. It doesn’t sound like a bear or anything, but I saw a cougar about a mile back walking down the trail. I left the tarp off the tent because it is hot as blazes and I see a skunk heading right for my tent. I shine the light in his eyes, but it does not phase him, he is headed right at me. When I turn the light out, he notices the light from the phone and he freezes. Great, he is going to spray me and the phone inside the tent with no tarp on it. He will destroy everything I own except clothes and food which are hanging in the trees. Luckily, he turns around and runs straight away into the woods. I wonder what else is lurking in these woods to eat me tonight. Tune in tomorrow to find out. Or maybe there will not be a post tomorrow.