Pacific Crest Trail

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Day 77

I spent the early morning on finishing some chores and ordering new tips for my trekking poles. The latter was not trivial as for instance Leki’s “universal trekking pole tips” wouldn’t work with my Leki trekking poles. Anyways, after eating a lot of food at the complementary breakfast I checked out and wanted to hitch. I met a female hiker called “Hardcore” and thought she was trying to hitch in the wrong direction. Then I looked again at my map and realized that I was wrong. I hadn’t been paying attention to where we came from when hitching in. It was potentially possible to hitch as I was planning but not easy as it involved dirt roads which was not obvious from the map. Lesson learned, and I was glad that I had met Hardcore there.

I had briefly met Hardcore some weeks ago going back over Kearsarge Pass where I was relaying a somewhat cryptic message to her from a Mexican hiker that had decided to turn around and go back to town for no good reason. Hardcore now said that the Mexican girl had been hiking with her boyfriend and they had friction in their relationship which eventually led them to break up and she had gone back to Mexico. I would imagine that the PCT could be hard on relationships, kind of an ultimate test,as you were constantly with your significant other for five or six months, but it could certainly also bring people more closely together.

Anyways, Hardcore and I tried to hitch but thought it would be easier from near the other end of the town, so we started walking, but never got all the way as a middle ages lady at a gas station at the opposite side of the road shouted out if we were looking for a ride to the trail. Nice! It was “Mimi”. She had heard about the PCT and how hikers were often looking for rides from her yoga teacher, who had been hiking on the trail. Mimi had been living for a long time on Hawaii but recently moved back. She liked being back with her friends and family as well as walking in the forest and the smell of the trees. She also liked the low humidity and the lower temperatures as it was good for her rheumatoid arthritis. We thanked her very much as she dropped us off right at the trail, and we started walking on our own.

About an hour in I saw a bear, or rather: A bear saw me, started to run away and thus made some noise which made me aware of it. It was about a meter tall and medium brown. That is the first bear I have seen since the nightly encounter around mile five hundred. It made me glad that I was planning to sleep at a campground with bear boxes.

The first part of the day went smoothly and I had no pain like before, but then gradually it returned when I walked up hill and later progressed to being there all the time and it was more intense than ever. That really put a damper on my spirit. This might be what takes me off trail, and by God, I don’t want that to happen. The fact that my backpack is heavier with four days of food might be aggravating it.

Later in the day, the pain inexplicably gradually faded and completely disappeared. That was of course very nice, but this is some insidious stuff, and I don’t think I have seen the last of it.

At a point I crossed the North Fork of Feather River on a bridge. It was flowing east, which made me curious as I had been bathing in the middle fork and that was flowing west. There is probably an easy explanation when you look at a larger map, though.

About mid day I entered Lassen Volcanic National Park, which is known for it geothermal activity. First I took a short side trail to get to Terminal Geyser, which isn’t technically a geyser as it doesn’t erupt. It did however send off quite a bit of steam and I think that is what is called a fumarole. By it as well as many other places in the Park was a smell of sulfur, e.g. like rotten eggs. There was a small stream of very warm water leading away from it. Didn’t use that a a water source, though :-). The next sight was “Boiling Springs Lake”, which was lightly blue in color and had some fizzling and oozing holes in one end. There was quite a bit of sulfur and it made me cough a couple of times. Both things were nice as they were close by, and did light up the day, but are no match for what you can see in for instance Yellowstone or Iceland.

Shortly after the lake, I got to the pay campground. If you weren’t bringing a bear canister, you had to either camp here or walk all the way through the park without camping. It was okay with me that this forced me to only do nineteen miles today with all of the leg problems. I shared a lot with several other hikers, set up my tent and walked a short while to the “Drakesbad Guest Ranch”, which was a semi-luxury resort. They had a special deal for PCT hikers who could have dinner after the normal guest at a reduced price and also get access to their pool for eighteen dollars. There was kind of a segregation between us hikers and the normal guests. For instance we had to use a special outside shower and we had to sit away from the restaurant and the usual guests. I was fine with that given the difference in price we were paying, though. Before dinner I shortly went to the pool, which was fed by a nearby mineral rich hot spring. It was nearly too hot to be comfortable. Afterwards I had a shower and smelled like white tea thanks to the shampoo and body wash handed out by the resort. That is not how through hikers are supposed to smell ;-). Hope that it is not a smell that bears like. He he. Afterwards I hurriedly made it back to the restaurant and had dinner along with a bunch of other hikers. It was very fancy and quite nice. Sure beat my cold soaked mashed potatoes. As I got back to camp I had a couple of pop tarts for desert.

This days miles: 1331-1350

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