Day 64, June 27th
Start: camp near drakesbad, mile 1,354
End: old station, mile 1,377
Miles hiked: 24
I wake up to the pitter patter of raindrops on my quilt and face. It cleared up last night, but now the clouds are back, raining down on my exposed face. I get up quickly and throw everything into the garbage bag that I use as a pack liner and put it in my backpack. Soon after, the rain turns to a drizzle and I go to sit at te picnic table with Bambi, zombie, big foot, Ragg, and Beacon. Ragg is a Vietnam veteran who was severely wounded from shrapnel, and shot several times in the leg. He worked for Costco for decades, yet they wouldn’t give him a six month LOA when he requested one this past winter. So he quit. Despite all of these things, he’s out here hiking the trail, and he’s flying! Super strong hiker, and a very low base weight. Just all around great guy. We’ve been leap frogging with him for most of the month. Beacon is another older gentlemen, and a triple crowner. He did the cdt last year to complete it, and now he’s doing the pct for his second time. He says it’s by far his favorite trail of the three. “Well graded, well maintained, and the most bang for your buck” he says. Really interesting guy. By the time we’re done eating, the drizzle has completely stopped.
Carrot and I head out of camp after the older dudes, and before the young guns zombie and Bambi. It’s about 1,500 feet gain to start the day, and I feel strong hiking up it. After a quick break at the top, we head down to lower twin lake to grab some water. I sit for a half hour, munching on power bars and haribo gummy bears from mrs Mathews, and as I stand up, my feet start to tighten. All that running yesterday made me real stiff. Luckily it’s all downhill from here to old station, and we have plenty of time to get there before the post office closes, so that carrot can get her food.
I hobble down the trail, soreness running down my legs and into my feet. I guess racing 35 miles in 11 hours will make me feel like crap the next day. How did Anish ever average 42 miles a day? It’s insane, and will always blow my mind. Very humbling, to say the least.
As we make our way out of the valley I see a giant, snow capped peak to the west, not more than 10 miles from the trail. Lassen peak! Awesome, I hadn’t seen it since before Belden, and it looked so so far away. I didn’t realize we got so close to it. Although it stands just 10,457 feet, it looks much, much larger than it’s actual height. This is due to it having 5,226 feet of prominence. That’s huge. Back in 1915, this volcano erupted mt St. Helens style. It’s crazy to think about that. What’s left over now is geysers and a boiling lake. Oh, and a lot of volcanic rock, everywhere. As we hike next to it I scope it out, looking for routes to the summit. All I can think about is climbing it. Then I snap back to reality. I can barely walk, and I won’t be climbing that, no matter how badly I want too. For now, I hobble on to old station, a small rv park/cabin town.
After several hours of struggle we make it there, half an hour before the post office closes. Mission accomplished. There’s a slew of other hikers there; caboose, young grasshopper, plant, pockets, and Ragg. It’s fun meeting so many people that I’ve never seen before. It’s been a long time, the desert most likely, since I’ve met so many new people in just a few days. Soon behind us are Bigfoot, beacon, then Bambie and zombie. We all eat, relax on the porch, and pack up. Several hit the trail, as it’s still a bit early. Beacon gets a room at the little motel, and offers to let us use the shower. Sweet, I’ll be clean again. Carrot does our laundry and I do some blogging while we wait for it. We retire to the green grass outside of the rv park. A nice stealth camping spot. I eat some ramen and lay on my sleeping pad, tired as can be. Tomorrow we hike the hat creek rim. It’s high and dry, and completely exposed. The desert is making it’s comeback, at least for 30 or so miles. I’m excited for it! Another day on the pct, and another challenge. Bring it!