California Oregon border
to Beldon 410 miles
Falls to Beldon 31st August
Our next section of the hike took us southward round Hat Creek Rim,
one of the hottest driest parts of the PCT. The 134 miles to Beldon
included a 30 mile section without water, so we gratefully accepted
park warden Shirley's offer to drive out to a lookout on Hat Creek
Rim and deposit a container of water, splitting the waterless stretch
up into more palatable shorter hikes.
1st September we set out early from Burney Falls with Sideshow
via the park entrance nearby where Shirley worked. She presented us
with 'Campground Host' baseball caps which I proudly donned for the
next part of the hike! The heat increased quickly in the morning and
we made it to our first water source for lunch at Rock Creek after
12 miles. We were all so hot that we agreed to have a siesta under
a riverside tree until about 4pm when we hoped it would have cooled
sufficiently for hiking on uphill onto Hat Creek Rim.
surprisingly it was still stiflingly hot at 4pm but we headed off
anyway with thoughts of a cool evening ahead. Sideshow hiked on ahead
and we eventually made it up onto the rim around 7pm and stopped for
an evening meal. A cooked dinner would be too hot so we had our breakfast
muesli with dried milk instead. When a bright moon appeared and the
temperature dropped, we felt things were going our way at last, following
a beautiful moon dappled route along the escarpment rim- although
we did have to keep a good look out in case we stepped on rattlesnakes.
We met Sideshow around 9pm - coming northwards, in the wrong direction!
- I think he had lost the trail at some point and was trying to locate
it again. We camped soon after by a small cow polluted pond, 2 miles
short of our water cache.
hiked onto our water in the morning and had breakfast with the refreshingly
cool water. The rest of the day was hot, but not as bad as yesterday
as we descended down to a cluster houses at Old Station. Our
route led on into Lassen Volcanic National Park, an active volcanic
area with thermal springs, geysers and hot pools.
Brian at a thermal steam vent in Lassen NP
At Drakesbad Lodge
managed a swim at Feather Lake in the park and enjoyed the variety
of scenery hereabouts. We met a couple on a short trail to hot springs
from nearby Drakesbad Lodge and they invited us back for a lunch at
the lodge - an offer we couldn't resist. We dived into a huge buffet
salad followed by cheesecake and felt energised for the afternoon-
the owner also gave us fresh fruit and cookies- maybe we looked undernourished!
In the afternoon,
more hot springs, bubbling pools, sulphur smelling ponds and
geysers on the route were hugely entertaining for us. Our
evening was livened up by a huge thunderstorm. We dived for
cover with our tent outer draped over us as a lightning bolt
crashed maybe only 100 meters away. As we sat under the tent
sheet hearing the rain drumming against our shelter,
both began to regret sending our waterproof jackets away in our resupply
box to save weight. After an hour like this we thought it best to
get off the broad ridge we were on and we dashed ahead to Stover Campsite
in the dark around 9.30pm. An interesting day!
Some days passed
on without any memories and the next was one of these- except
us finding a can of beer by a river that we later found out
that Sundog had left behind. On the 6th September,
Labour Day weekend, we heard the sound of gunshots in the
woods and were immediately wary. We had already seen
some 4WD vehicles crammed with camouflaged hunters roaming
through the forest and had wished
Rare shot of the two of us hiking
deer good luck. We headed on warily and soon passed by some guys with
rifles shooting at a tree with a box of beer bottles beside their
vehicle. We scuttled on as fast as we could. It was difficult for
us to comprehend the open gun laws in the US that seem to allow anyone
to own a gun and shoot up the
trail descended into Chips Creek valley system and we failed to notice
a sign indicating a diversion due to landslides taking out the trail
lower down. By the time we noticed our mistake we decided just to
keep going along the original trail and take our chances with the
hit two huge landslides into Chips Creek which caused some missed
heartbeats as we slithered across steep mud slopes with semi-cemented
rocks which mostly came loose when we pulled on them. We heaved a
sigh of relief once we made it across and settled down to camp that
night at Williams Cabin feeling grubby, dirty and sweaty.
night I calculated that we had now hiked 2,000 miles- but that
still meant 641 miles to go in the fading summer and into autumn.
However, closer to hand, we were looking forward to meeting Eric and
Gordon from Scotland next day at the small store of Beldon,
6 miles away.
was an easy downhill stretch to Beldon and we ambled into town around
10.15am to see Eric, Gordon and fellow hiker Sundog. It was great
to see them but we had hoped to get a clean up before they saw us
as we were slightly grotty!
Central California, our last section ........