Saturday, October 4, 2014

Day 179- Over the Hat Creek Rim

Day 179, 10/4/14
1391 (Hat Creek Rim) to 1416 (Wild Bird Cache)
25 miles

5:30 AM.  Not a hint of light on the horizon.  No moon either.   I was barreling down the trail as fast as I could.  Determined to make it off the rim as soon as possible, at least before the heat of mid-day.   Out of the heat and away from the hunters, I hoped.  To water. 
Night hiking.
Ahead, I saw headlights from a truck crossing the desert expanse, then coming to a stop.  The lights went off.  Oh no! A hunter ahead somewhere.  I was on full alert.   I was scared.  What if I was mistaken for a deer and got shot?  How many hikers have been killed by hunters?   I'd never heard if it happening, but then again, how many other hikers were out here this time of year?  None!  How many were out at this hour?  None!  I was scared.   I didn't want to be out here.  But I didn't know what else to do besides hike.  So I kept going.  Fast.

Around a corner, my headlamp illuminated a vehicle.  The hunter started talking to me about where I was going to find a hunting spot.  I corrected him, and said I was a hiker.   "Don't you know it's opening day?!?   Be careful.  You are brave to be out here!" I think he meant "You are crazy."

I had to get out of here. I kept hiking.  On and on.  My pace quickened even more.

The first signs of dawn.  Up ahead, another truck crossing the expanse, then moved out of sight.  Oh no!   I kept hiking, trying to make some noise as I walked.  Not deer walking noise.  Loud human-walking sounds.  I readjusted my blaze orange hat. It didn't seem like it was enough to protect me.   I wanted a bullet proof vest. (An ultralight, cool, wicking bullet proof vest.  Do they make those out of titanium?)
View of Lassen Peak from the Hat Creek Rim.
Rounding another corner, another hunter was walking towards me, his gun still slung over his shoulder.  He told me the all the other hunters were behind me, that he was the only one out this way. I breathed a sigh of relief and wished him good luck. Hoping I was in the clear, if not from the heat yet, at least maybe I wouldn't get shot.

The day warmed up fast. I kept hiking as fast as I could.  A few time I heard gunshots echoing across the valley, but nothing nearby.  Still, I jumped each time.  Probably should learn to duck.

On the rim, I paused long enough to realize I had cell phone service.   I called my parents, and they said they had found cache 22 yesterday.  They left tree gallons of water waiting for me there. Yippeee!!!!!

I was carrying 4 L of water, enough to get me to the next stream in case the cache was empty.   I didn't dump out any water though my feet were killing me.  Even when my parents told me they left water, still I didn't quite trust it enough.  Water was so precious up here and it was getting hot.  I did drink at a faster rate, no longer rationing.   I could feel the cells in my body breath a sigh of relief.  Ah to be hydrated!

Sure enough, I found the water from my parents at cache 22.  Hoorah!  I was so relieved!  It was wonderful that they took the time to drive up and leave the water.  This cache is usually stocked during regular hiking season, but since I was off-season, there was only about a liter or two of algae-filled water left.  I could have survived without the cache because I had carried so much water all the way from Subway Cave, but it sure made a different to be able to fill up a few more liters.  I also sat at the cache for a break and drank up.  Tanking up.
Thanks for leaving me water at the cache, Mom and Dad!
Then I kept hiking, down off the rim.  I thought there would be relief from the heat once I got to the valley floor.  But no, it was hot down there too.  My feet were killing me and blisters were erupting on my feet.  I hadn't been taking enough rest breaks.  I didn't want to take the time.  I wanted to get to water and to shade as soon as possible to cool off.  I dreamed of a swim in cool water.  I hiked like I was on a mission.
Descending down off the rim.
The consequence was that my feet were aching, sore, and hot hot hot.  Darn hiking shoes.  Oh I missed my trail runners.  They didn't give me blisters like these hiking shoes.  Didn't make my feet this hot.

But I hiked on and on.  Finally, after what seemed liked forever, I reached the Wild Bird Cache.  Heaven!  Shaded and cooler.  And there were several large bottles of water labeled "for shower" and I couldn't resist.  I only used a liter or two of water, but oh wow it was the BEST!  The shower cooled me off instantly and I felt like a whole new person.  Incredible after such a long hot day.
Hanging near the shower at the Wild Bird Cache.


  1. You had me in the edge of my seat. Eh gads I'd have been scared and nervous also. Not a fun way to end an already unbearable section.

    1. It was crazy with all the hunters and was one of the scariest days on the trail for me. Sure wish I'd known more about where hunting is and isn't permitted so I could have done more to avoid those places at dusk and dawn.