Day 65, June 28th
Start: old station, ca: mile 1,377
End: camp on hat creek rim: mile 1403
Miles hiked: 26

Carrot and I wake up late. We’d the not out of camp until a bit after 7:30, when we start walking down the road to JJ’s restaurant where we plan to get breakfast. Can’t ever pass up a good breakfast while on the trail, especially when the place gets rave reviews by other hikers.

Three miles down the road and Tred picks us up.

“I’ll drive you the rest of the way if I can have breakfast with ya!” He says. Though JJ’s is just a quarter mile down the road, we gladly accept the offer.

Tred maintains the water cache at forest service road 22, commonly called ‘cache 22’. He’s a local farmer, and tells us of his hiking stories, as he’s hiked over 1,000 miles of the trail. He’s also working on rebuilding the house he’s in. It’s completely off the grid, 100% solar, and he just installed a grey water system for his garden. I’m super envious of all he does in that field. After a great breakfast he brings us to the trailhead where I chug a Mountain Dew. No reason, as there aren’t any huge climbs. More for the taste than anything. Yet somehow, I go slowly. It’s hot in the hat creek rim, and completely exposed for 29 miles. Not one water source the entire way (hence the water cache half way through that Tred stocks).

Once at the top of the rim, I see a huge, HUGE mountain in the distance. It rises so high over everything in sight. It’s snow capped, and not like Lassen with some strands of snow, but rather a full icy cap covering the top portion of the cylindrical peak. Although I’ve never seen it before (save from viewing it on a flight to Sacramento), I know what it is right away, mount Shasta! Another mountain over 14,000 feet. Well, technically it’s a stratovolcano, but I’ll still just call it a mountain. A pile of rocks that rises above the rest. We’ll be hiking in the shadow of this behemoth for the better part of the next 200 miles. It gets me totally pumped just seeing it, and I begin to wonder what the conditions/routes would be like to try and climb this. Maybe for the 4th of July I’ll give a shot at making the summit. Who knows. Carrot tells me that in the town of mount Shasta there’s a mountaineering store. I’ll definitely be visiting it when I’m in town to get some more info.

Did i mention that the hat creek rim is hot, and dry… And extremely exposed? And to top it all off, the hat creek rim is full of rattle snakes. I see two of them, one a young little guy with only 3 links on his rattle. It all brings me back, yet I’m pretty happy that it’s only a short section that mimics the trails past.

As the hours and miles roll by, I get extremely hot. I start to crash bad, probably half from a caffeine withdrawal and half from heat exhaustion. I find a shaded place and drink one of the three liters I’m carrying. It tastes so good, despite being warm. I eat two melted milky ways, three granolas, a power bar, and some dried fruit, and begin hiking again. At this point, carrot is far ahead of me on the trail. I feel so weak today. The desert is tough! I guess I smashed through it so hard in the beginning due to excitement to get to the sierras and the excited energy I had so pent up from months of anticipation.

Eventually I catch carrot at the cache 22. A small little hut had been built there out of sticks and timber. It looks much like an Indian home. It’s stocked with 100 gallons of water. So awesome that Tred maintains this so well. I can’t thank him enough for all of his efforts. I sit and enjoy reading the register. Many of my friends have already passed through; the hardcore Canadians, brainstorm, tiny, Bambi & Zombie, chimp & RD, Raggs, and several of the new hikers we met in old station yesterday afternoon.

After some drinks and more snacks, we push on. The day is starting to cool off, and it feels great. We find a nice place to set up camp on the ridge. I make ramen, and eat so many gummies. It’s been a beautiful day, back in the desert, and I’ve loved the views of Shasta and Lassen peaks. It’s a beautiful world that we live in, and I’m so glad I get to spend this time seeing so much of it!