I had set my alarm for half past two am today as I was going along the notoriously dry and hot Hat Creek Rim (allegedly comparable to the Mojave) as I wanted to beat the heat.
It took me a while to get going simply because I was tired but it was still very early and cold. I walked the short way back to the trail and passed by the Subway Cave, which I hadn’t planned to pay a visit. I changed my mind a few seconds after passing the side trail to it and went for it anyways. It was a volcanic tunnel that you could walk like 300 feet through, and it was actually quite cool. Although it would be completely dark inside regardless of what time of day you came, it felt weird and somewhat eerie to do alone just before four am with only the stars shining outside. Needless to say, I was the only visitor. I navigated by the light of my headlamp. At a part of the roof there were remains of molten lava that had been dripping from the ceiling. At another place there were two mini “volcanoes” where gasses had spewed into the tunnel from below.
I hiked on. Right when I got up this morning I thought about if I should have gotten up an hour earlier. Now I got the answer, which was a resounding no. I was getting very tired and my walking got sloppy. I stopped every now and then and briefly leaned against my trekking poles with closed eyes. This was not going well. I tried putting on some music but it didn’t do much. Instead I thought I’d take a power nap, so I sat on a rock leaning against my backpack and with my feet drawn near me. That was surprisingly comfortable, with a nice temperature and the freshness of the morning air. I fell asleep almost instantaneously and woke just before my alarm which had been set to twelve minutes. I don’t know how long you are supposed to power nap, but that worked exceedingly well. I did not feel sleepy again until late in the day.
There was no water on the trail from the Subway Cave to about thirty miles later. Eight miles in, I reached a side trail to “Lost Creek”. For a while I pondered whether I should go down the steep trail to not be as reliant on an upcoming water cache, Cache 22. I decided to be a good citizen and go for the water, but a third of the way down there was a very steep section of the trail that I didn’t like, especially since I had my backpack on and there were no good places to put it. So I chickened out and went back up which made me sweat. I had enough water to go back here if the cache was empty, though it would cost me a sixteen mile round trip, and I promised myself to make sure to make a donation for the water cache if that was possible.
After ascending to the namesake rim, the trail spent several miles contouring the several hundred feet near vertical drop off at a comfortable distance. Far away in the north you could see Mount Shasta looming far above anything in its vicinity. The trail was mostly flat but from time to time littered with volcanic rocks.
I got to Cache 22 just after noon and luckily there was still plenty of water. The tank was actually refilled when I was there. There are, however, some special rules for using the Cache 22: you must send a mail ahead of time stating that you want to use the cache and how much you plan to take. However, you must not depend on the cache and by mailing you signify that you are using the cache as part of your water supply plan. You are therefore considered to be planning to depend on the cache and are therefore ineligible to use the cache. I’m just kidding. I’m thinking that the name is a play on the book “Catch 22” and not just because the cache is next to “Road 22”.
Anyways, I, like many other hikers including JC that I met yesterday, had a somewhat longer lunch break there to wait out some of the midday heat. After I got going it was rather warm but still manageable. Particularly because there weren’t any ascents. Later in the afternoon, the trail eventually descended from the rim. Simultaneously my energy levels dropped, so I had a small break by the 1400 miles marker, where someone conveniently had mad a small bench out of rocks and branches in the shade. I pushed on through the last part of the day and luckily, no one were at the camp site that I was planning to take. There aren’t as many camp sites here in the volcanic area due to the many volcanic rocks and on the one there are you are facing super fine and sticky dust that gets everywhere. But that’s just how it is, and it certainly could be a lot worse. It remained warm way into the evening and my water bottles and of course the water inside them was quite warm to the touch. It hasn’t been this warm and dry since the desert.
On a related note on things that certainly could be worse: I haven’t had any real problems with my legs today. Yay!
This days miles: 1377-1403