Friday, October 3, 2014

Day 178- Subway Cave and the Hat Creek RIm

Day 178, 10/3/14
1373 to 1391 (head of Lost Creek on the Hat Creek Rim)
17.4 miles

I'd thought I'd be avoiding the heat of the Hat Creek Rim because it is October.  But fall has been unseasonably warm.  So I was glad I had a plan for the 30 mile waterless stretch across one of the hottest places on the PCT.  Start from the last water source at Subway Cave in the afternoon, hike as late as possible, then get down off the rim as fast as I could the next morning.  How hard could it be?
The Hat Creek Rim.
Because I had extra time and didn't want to start the climb up to the Rim until afternoon, I hiked in to the town of Old Station for breakfast at JJ's Cafe.  At JJ's, two women chatted with me about my hike, and bought me some cookies from the bakery there.  What a treat!  Thank you Carol, the cookies were incredible!
Real, unexpected trail magic- sweet gifts from a stranger.

The last water source before the Hat Creek Rim is at Subway Cave, which turned out to be a fascinating place to visit.  There was a 1/3 mile walk through the large lava tube, with informative signs explaining how it was formed.  What a cool place!
Subway Cave.
Then I filled up with 6 liters of water from the water fountain outside the cave for the 30 mile waterless stretch over the Hat Creek Rim.  My parents were going to leave me water at cache 22, midway through the Hat Creek Rim, but I didn't have cell reception in Old Station so I couldn't confirm they had actually found the cache and left the water.  Being a cautious person, I decided to play it safe and bring enough water in case there was no water at the cache.  Because I take the advice to never relying on caches seriously.

Even under the shade of my umbrella, the exposed climb up to the Hat Creek Rim was horribly hot.  It's been a while since I've carried that much weight in my pack, and my feet were killing me.  I was drenched in sweat and feeling a bit dizzy from the heat.  Ugh!  I took breaks in what shade I could find to cool off about every hour, but I kept them short.  I kept as fast a pace as I could manage, knowing I had to get through this section before I ran out of water.  Heat stroke was a serious risk.  No messing around. 

So I kept hiking as long as I possibly could, til it started getting pretty dark and I couldn't make myself go any further.  I hung at the head of Lost Creek Canyon, a bit off the trail.  The sunset was gorgeous and I used my last bit of energy to walk over for a view.
Sunset on the Hat Creek Rim.
After I was almost asleep in my hammock, a truck passed right near me.  Crazy I thought I was in the middle of nowhere.  I could see that the truck was packed with a bunch of guys.  Dang it, they were hunters.  I realized it was a Friday night.  This was gonna be trouble tomorrow morning!  I'd have to contend with both the heat and hunters.  Try not to get shot for being mistaken for a deer and not to die of heat stroke.   I fell asleep not looking forward to the next day.


  1. Gorgeous sunset view! I'm dealing with hunters myself. Glad you survived the rim, definitely an area to be respected. Can you imagine the heat when it's over 100. Misery!

    1. The sunrise, sunset, views, and stars were all beautiful on the rim- I can almost understand why they route the PCT up there. But I don't get why we can't walk under the trees, why we have to be on the hot burn area when there is the shade of unburnt trees not too far away.

      When I was crossing it, I tried to imagine it when it's over 100- misery for sure.