It was nice to have have hiked with Chigger and Stretch yesterday but I really wanted to get to Burney Falls Park asap to be sure they had my food package. If they didn’t I’d have to hitch to a town and back again tonight.
After coming down from Hat Creek Rim the path got into scoria. It was hot and dry and soon it felt much like being back in the Mojave. I plugged on but I could feel a blister growing. Bear Bait has attributed it to the heat but I’m thinking the excessive pack weight is at least partly responsible.
At Crystal Creek Fish Hatchery I refilled my water bottles and took a little look around. According to the signs they release about 1,000,000 catchable sized fish from there every year and it’s funded by fishing licenses.
The walk was very flat. With no pack and on a cooler day I could have run through most of it, watching for the rocks would have slowed me down. But today wasn’t like that.
Burney Falls did indeed have my package though it turns out I didn’t need much of it. I’ve now got seven main meals in my bag and I only need two to reach Castella. I even gave away three Rice-a-ronis and two pounds of trail mix that Debbie Kennedy kindly gave me. I ate as much as I could but it was just slowing me down. Hopefully I’ll get some tips from BlueSky for weight reduction.
I stayed at the park’s store for over four hours. I would have left earlier but when Bear Bait turned up and bought beer I could hardly sneak out. So Chigger, Stretch, Panther, Bear Bait and I sat around talking about past and future PCT stuff. It was a really positive place to be. Everyone feeding off the excitement around them. I wonder if this sort of thing would have helped others stay on the trail. It makes me feel better about being here. The same goes for the night after Drakesbad at the Kennedy/Smith house. They were so interested in the trail and New Zealand that when I left I was on a really high plain despite the rain and the long way to shelter. I’ll try to make up a good sentence to describe the positive vibes.
Chigger is a tiny wee thing. Claims to be the second shortest thru-hiker, the title being taken by Oblivious. He’s 12 and still growing. Previously an equestrian sports photographer (no, I didn’t know such a profession existed either) she has done the AT and her boyfriend is currently doing the CDT. When telling stories she does the people’s voices, though she hasn’t got the Northumberland accent of Storming Norman and Hell-on-Wheels yet. She’s a freegan, meaning she gets food that supermarkets and bakeries are throwing out. Imagine eliminating your food bill.
Stretch has a great sense of humour. Though she doesn’t make a lot of jokes herself she audibly enjoys everyone else’s. She laughs and smiles a lot and it’s hard not to join her. Hiking with someone like that you’d never be in bad spirits.
I don’t know much about Panther except he’s twice had run-ins with bear cubs and their protective mothers. Bear Bait though has not even seen one yet. He’s a section hiker doing 1000 miles from Tuolumne Meadows so tomorrow he’ll be halfway.
Jinx and Cash have had to leave the trail. The scoria and hot trail mean their little paws can’t take it anymore. Two Dogs has taken them back to Old Station and will leave them on a friend’s farm and return here to continue alone. I guess we’ll have to call her Heidi again until she does something weird or wonderful to earn a new trail name.
Quote of the day:
Chigger: Are you pure?
SunWalker: I’ve been asked that before, in a very different tone of voice.
Purists are those that walk every single inch of the PCT, no scenic alternatives, no shortcuts.
More photos of this day’s journey can be found at Old Station to Castle Crags
Distance today: 25.3 miles. Total distance: 1423.4 miles
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