Friday, July 13, 2012

Day 83-Lucifer's Caul De Sac: It smells...different

Mile 1376 to mile 1398

The late night caught up with me in the morning.  I didn't wake up until six and that was just in time. Lassen was light up with golden morning light and I dragged myself out of bed to take a look and a few photos. Because of the late wake up I didn't leave camp until 7:30, not the best saying the day ahead was a long hot one.

It was one mile to the Old Station RV store and got there just before 8. The store was open but somehow nothing inside struck my fancy. I guess I was only interested in their outlets.  And their recycel bin. We pawed through it looking for a good bottle so I could carry more water for the 34 mile dry stretch of trail. There were no good liter bottles so I took two 20 once bottles.   Portrait and I stayed for about an hour.  The cool morning had warmed up fast in that hour spent in the shade of the store.

There was another store four miles up the trail that was supposed to be better than the one we went to, but .4 miles off trail.  We debated for awhile whether it was worth the side trip. Relucantantly we came to the conclusion that it was worth the almost extra mile of walking.

We did walk the extra .4 to the Subway Cave. The cave was formed by hot lava from Lassen.  It was one of the biggest tunnels in the area at .3 miles long.  We went in the Devil's Doorway down a flight of stairs into the cool dark underworld of the cave.

The cave was aptly named:  tall and wide enough for a train to pass through. It was also completely dark just a few yards away from the entrance. The floor was lumpy with dried lava and headlamps were a necissaty to avoid tripping in Stubtoe Hall.

Lights bounced off the walls as other people wandered through the cave. We had gotten there at the same time as a school group of ten years old. Their shrill voices echoed off the walls. There excitment was loud, but not annoying like a small group of 20 year olds who were as loud and obnoxious as drunk teenagers. 

I had hoped to spend a chunk of the afternoon inside the cave eating, napping, and working on my blog, but it was much more of a tourist spot than I expected. While eating snack in the absolute blackness of Lucifer's Caul de Sac an older couple walked in, and apparently we'd been there awhile, because the women remarked that it seemed...different in there. The school group was less polite and exclaimed that it smelt like bad body oder. We took that as a sign to move on.

Outside the cave I could almost feel my skin sizzeling in the hot sun. I wasn't looking forward to the burned out and dried up Hat Creek Rim section. Definitely a sunscreen kind of day. We had heard from two section hiking southbounders that there was a water cache halfway through the rim so I only took four liters of water (or eight pounds of water). While filling up and wetting down my hair Alex and Coop showed up at the cave (Alex was drinking a blue slurpee that haunted me the rest of the day while I baked on the rim.

I made it three miles before sitting in meger shade already feeling the negetive effects of the sun. I may have sulked a bit and may have thought about staying put until the cooler part of the day-a solid seven hours away. Instead I pulled out my neglected chrome drome and hiked on in my personal shade bubble while feeling much better.

While going up a short hill, sweat pouring down my face, Lassen looked down at me.  At the top of the hill Shasta peeked out at me, Portrait, and Lassen for the first time. I was stopped by the beauty of the mountain-beautiful even with a thick cloak of haze that made the snowy volcano look more like a cloud than a mountain.

Unexpected shade

Also at the top of the hill was one of the nicest sights I expected to see all day:  a pit toilet building. It wasn't the nicest because I needed what was inside the small building, but for the shade it provided. It was the perfect lunch spot and it stayed the perfect spot for close to two hours.

We hiked on, with great reluctance on my part, hoping to get to the water cache by day's end. There wasn't much to look at (if you don't count two beautiful volcanoes and after five hours of unchanging sceneary even the volcanoes' beauty dimmed.

We stitched who was following whom a few times.  I was close enough to watch red dust stains creep up the back of Portait's pant legs. On one very dusty stretch I had to fall behind as every step Portrait took sent a red cloud of dust my way.

Around seven we saw a tower in the distance-we thought a fire tower, but it turned out to be a cell phone tower (which made sense, given the great service we had all day).  There were two one galon jugs of water. I finished off one of my bottles of water a filled it from the jug and drank all of it quickly. I felt like I was in the desert again-dreaming of water and not food (although I did day dream about some brownies from Kick Off that were so good and about Alex's blue Slurpee). Once I no longer felt parched I was able to eat a candy bar to get me the last few miles to the cache.

Right after the tower the trail vanished into the brush and was lost to a dozen different tracks that fizzled out shortly after starting. We followed a jeep road that Portrait's GPS said followed the same general path as the trail. But it wasn't the trail and that bothered me, not because of the AT mindset of blue blazing (taking a trail that wasn't the AT and usually said in a dispearing way), but because of the unsurety of where I was. I didn't know anything about the track I was on-if it was going to add miles or even minutes to my day or when I'd get back on to the PCT. That late in the day I didn't want a mystery road; I wanted water and dinner.

We were off trail for about twenty minutes, but I felt a calmness settle back over me once my feet were back on that dusty path with shoe prints I've come to associate with those in front of me.

After a couple of miles the sun started to set-gold in the haze. I wanted to be at the cache so I could watch the sun sink with a full bottle of water. The trail dropped off the rim and the sun hide from view. I forgot about my lost sunset when I saw four chairs and 30 gallon jugs of water. I sank into a seat greatfully and pulled a jug of water towards me and poured some into my dinner to cook with. While pouring water into my bottle I saw something fall into my bottle. Upon closer look we realised it was spoiled milk. The water was in a milk jug and smelled strongly of curdled milk.  I dumped my bottle out and the jug as well and then considered my dinner. It passed the sniff test: it smelled like creamy garlic shells, but not the gross test. In the end I kept the water, there wasn't much I could do. It tasted just fine and we left a word of warning in the register.

We went another .2 after dinner to find a campsite.  Our spot was on the rim looking over the valley. It had more rocks and cow patties than I'm used too, but I thought it would do the job.

1 comment:

  1. Nice post here. Good writing makes it come alive.