1391 (Hat Creek Rim) to 1416 (Wild Bird Cache)
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.
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.|
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!|
|Descending down off the rim.|
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.|