A whirlwind day today.  I set off early, found trail magic in the morning, strolled into a guest ranch and made a pig of myself for lunch, almost napped, climbed out of town, and strolled past a known problem bear area.  And tomorrow might be similar.

I woke up about 4:45 and put on the tunes while I awoke and ate breakfast in bed.  I was packed and on trail about 5:30 and the mosquitoes were already out, but the yellow jackets were still sleeping.  Early mornings, the Achilles tendons are stiff and sore, so the first fifteen minutes of hiking is always very slow;  To the tune of about one mile per hour.  The morning terrain was gentle ups and downs and I hit a creek in about an hour and stopped to load up on water.

That’s when I got a little scare.  The water filter I use has a four liter dirty collection bladder, then a charcoal pre filter and then a plastic particle filter.  It operates by gravity, so once its primed, i just sit back and watch it filter into my bottles.  When I store it, I sling the water out of it, so when I use it each time, you have to prime it because the surface tension around the bubbles dont like to go through the filter element. 

The standard procedure is to hang the bladder, let it start filtering until water comes out the end of the five foot tube, then invert the tube to purge the bubbles back into the bladder.  Then it will filter at full speed about two minutes to the liter.  But this morning it did not prime well.  I tried blowing the water back up the tube but there was alot of resistance.  I went back and forth three or four times with no success, so I thought the filter had finally plugged and needed replacing.  I have backup chlorine drops, but I prefer the filter.

I had forgotten about one more piece.  It also has a clamp like on an IV tube that allows you to clamp down on the tubing to stop the flow.  I checked it and it was closed.  Bonehead me.  The filter primed fine and I was back in business.  I must have left it clamped the last time I filtered water.

Back on trail, the terrain gets even flatter.  Flat terrain is fun.  I cross a road, and see a cooler under a tree.  PCT hikers is written on it.  Oh boy, trail magic.  And there is a funky cabinet hanging on the tree.  Being early in the morning, it’s probably wiped out like the last one.  But alas, it is full.  There is fruit cocktail, bananas, Capri Sun, Gatorade, water, nutrigrain bars, little Debbie’s, blowpops, and all sorts of toiletries.  The fruit cocktail catches my eye first, so I gulp one down.  It tastes fantastic.  I wish I could bring them on the trail.  I have also been looking for a tiny Gatorade bottle, so that goes in the pack pocket, a blowpops in the shirt pocket and a little Debbie gets eaten as I walk away.  And I walk away happy.  It’s about 9 am and breakfast has long worn off, so this hits the spot and picks up my pace a little.  About an hour later the blowpops falls out of my pocket.  Bonus!  I had forgotten about it, so it gets eaten as I walk.  The morning is good.

About 10 am I come to a side trail to a steam geyser.  I drop my pack and run down the trail.  It turns out to really just be a steam vent and not a geyser, but there is quite a bit of hot water outflow from the various holes in the earth.  I check the temperature, and it’s pretty hot, more than 140 at least.

Back on trail at about 11 am, there is a side trail to sulphur springs.  I guess I need to check that one out, too.  It’s only fifty yards so I keep the pack on to check that one out.  It’s a giant green lake with red and yellow soil all around it.  The color green is so unnatural it looks like industrial pollution.  There’s little steam vents and hot springs all around it.

Back on trail and right at noon I can finally see the Drakesbad resort.  I can see the hit Springs swimming pool.  It’s a green tint and fed directly from the hot springs.  It takes about a mile of pointless trail to get there and I cross a dozen small springs and streams.  I feel each one to see if they are hot or cold and about half of them are each.  This is a very interesting place.

I finally get to the guest ranch at 12:30 and see a group of hikers on picnic tables, so I go straight to them.  One of them gives me the lowdown.  We are waiting for the guests to eat, then the staff eats, then the hikers get the leftovers.  We have to wait for the cook to come get us.  It takes until nearly 1:30 but he comes and let’s us in.  Baby greens salad, tuna salad, fruit salad, pasta salad, make your own sandwiches, lasagna, and clam chowder.  I pack it in.  I need a nap.

The resort also has free laundry, free showers, the hot spring pool, another Lodge with soda, candy, and ice cream.  I’m too full to eat anything else, so I sit in a swing and rock the food away.  And I also got my package with new shoes.  They are so clean they stick out like a sore thumb.

I do manage to drink a soda just before leaving at 3:30.  I didn’t bother with the pool, shower, or laundry, but I did manage to find some oatmeal, a new jar of peanut butter, and some cliff bars from the hiker box.  That’s about half of what I needed to buy in Old Town tomorrow.  Oh yes, another lunch tomorrow.  I like this stretch of trail.  Two days after that I should be at Burney Falls and should be able to eat at their grill, too.  Life is good.

Heading out, the trail climbs, of course.  I take it slow to keep from throwing up.  I have one close call.  I have to stop every five minutes to belch very carefully.  Too much lasagna.  The complications of trail life.  I finally make the climb up and take a break to check the app and find a campsite.  The one that looks perfect distance wise is by a lake.  And the register comments from only two days ago say a nuisance bear is raiding people while they are cooking.  Great. 

I see two miles after the lake, there is flat ground, so let’s go there.  It will take me until 8:30 to get there, but that’s OK since I don’t need to cook dinner.  Lunch will make up for both lunch and dinner.  I find a good spot about 8:15, so I have plenty of time to set up, eat a cliff bar and some peanut butter, hang the bear bag, and get settled all before it gets dark.  Today is going well.  Let’s just hope Mr nuisance stays by the lake tonight.

And those new shoes, they already look months old.