Saturday, July 14, 2012

Day 84-Spongebath Cleanliness is Very Tenuouse

Mile 1398 to mile 1417
It was already hot when I woke up not feeling all that ready for another day on the rim.  At least it was a shorter day on the rim than yesterday.  It also started off with more views.  Shasta looked a little less haze-y in the early morning than when I first saw her mid-day yesterday.  And there were views of Lassen as he retreated into the background.
Not long after leaving camp while hiking through a flat field section littered with volcanic rocks we crossed the 1400 mile mark.  Someone had made the marker out of rust red volcanic stones.  It seemed like the logical choice--the rocks were all over the place (but thankfully, they were mostly out of the trail).
We stopped for our first morning snack on a rock outcropping that had some shade and looked out on the valley below.  Keeping guard over the valley the two volcanoes looked wearily at each other.  While picking through the dregs of my food bag a humming bird buzzed me, mistaking my faded purple shirt for a flower.  Probably one of the worst mistakes that poor bird ever made--I can only imagine its shock at how bad that flower smelled.
Shortly after our snack break the trail dropped off the rim into the valley we had looked upon.  Once down there the valley was filled with volcanic rock.  There were large ribbons of long cooled black lava next to the trail.  In some places where the trail went through fields that were perfectly flat the trail was edged with volcanic rocks.  I've never seen anything like it before. 
Lunch was under one of the few trees.  There were enough of them for me to start thinking about leaving the exposed Hat Creek Rim section behind.  My water was holding out, and my sunscreen was doing its job.  There was a bit too much wind for my Chrome Dome to work for much of the day's hike, but the wind did help keep me cool. 

Giant footsteps cross the road leading into Cassel (pronounced Castle)

The trail had lost enough elevation that I lost sight of Shasta and Lassen was out of sigh behind me.  The trail continued to drop in elevation.  More trees lined the trail and I could see a few buildings and roads in the valley.

Legs after 33.5 miles of dust

The first on trail water in 33.5 miles was a small creek that the near-by fish hatchery had encased in a large metal pipe.  I could hear the water flowing under my feet as I stepped over the pipe.  The second water was Rock Creek that the guide books calls "disgusting" which seemed to be an apt description of the stagnant water.  Stepped over that one, too.

And feet after those 33.5 miles

What I was really looking for was the road to the fish hatchery where they had bathrooms.  I almost didn't care about drinking water.  I wanted bandanna bath water.  33.5 miles of dusty trail was trapped under my pant legs where it had turned into a muddy paste on my skin.  My hands and face hadn't fared much better with sunscreen and dust.  Once at the fish hatchery I filled my bottles and set to work getting ride of the dust.  My Class of 2012 bandanna may never be clean again, but I felt pretty good afterwards.
While we had the water supply, a picnic table, and shade (and an outlet to charge phones) we decided to have an early dinner.  I yogi'ed a trail magic beer to go with my red potato stew and had a full bottle of water and hot chocolate to round out the meal.  After eating and leaving the shade the day had cooled off noticeably.  A few more miles felt like a good idea.
The trail went past a large pond that was part of the fish hatchery operation (I think) and then up a small hill.  It was still hot enough to sweat during a climb.  I had felt so clean just moments before, and with each sweaty step up hill my cleanliness seemed like a distant memory. 
We couldn't hike too far--Portrait had to go into the town of Burney to resupply.  While hiking I was drawing up a mental list of foods I wanted to request from the store.  It was a long list geared to a hiker's favorite food groups:  sweet, salty, and fatty.  We hiked past the first road that could take Portrait into town--we figured the state park near the town would be the easiest hitch on a Sunday.  We kept hiking into the cool evening trying to get away from the busy road and its noise.  Off the trail to the left was a flat gravel spot with a fire ring.  It looked perfect for the night and would set up Portrait for an easy day into town.

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