Day 66, June 29th
Start: camp on hat creek rim, mile 1,403
End: rock creek, mile 1,429
Miles hiked: 26

I woke up several times last night to ants biting me and crawling on me. I’ve cowboy camped nearly every day, so it’s surprising that this is the first time I’ve got bugs all over me at night. I don’t really mind them crawling on me, but when I’m getting bit it wakes me up real fast. I guess this would be the one time I would prefer a full sleeping bag that ants can’t get into, rather than a quilt where they can crawl all over my legs at night. Not a big deal, just strange that this is the first time.

Mount Shasta quickly burns red with alpenglow as we pack our bags, and I fumble around with my nice camera trying to capture it. I still can’t get over how beautiful it is.

The trail makes it’s way down to the valley floor at the state fish hatchery. After walking next to some dammed up lakes the trail gets back into what feels like the desert with some shade. As I pass the highway leading into the town of Burney I see a sign, ‘wild bird cache, 1mile’. Water, yes! I think to myself. Carrot must be there already, after we lost each other at the fish hatchery. I race down the dry, flat trail to find her just setting down her pack. There a trail board, with a cabinet built into it, a large cooler, and a picnic table with two umbrellas for shade.

“I remember this from last year! There’s soda!” She says to me.

I grab a squirt and quickly pour it into my mouth. It’s the best Squirt I’ve bed had. It reminds me of sitting on the lawn by the channel in grand haven Michigan, where I grew up, and watching the large motor boats go by with my grandma and grandpa. It was always so hot in the sun, and they would always bring a cooler with Squirt, and a bag of sun chips. Very find memories. This feels awfully similar, and equally fantastic.

Carrot and I open the cabinet. It’s fully stocked, as if it’s a kitchen cabinet from someone’s house. Mac’n cheese, small hot dogs, chili, ravioli, ramen, mashed potatoes, pasta, all the medical supplies you could need, plastic utensils, and even paper plates.

“You’ve got to be kidding me, this is unreal. They’ve so upgraded their trail Angeling!” Carrot says as she takes a can of peas, a container of apple sauce, and some candies.

“I’m making a can of chili and throwing the hot dogs in there!” I say back excitedly.

There’s even a camp stove here. A nice one that actual car campers would use. Not one of the wimpy backpacking stoves we all carry around. I take a pan and throw everything in, and as I’m doing this a small quad runner pulls up and stops near the road crossing 100 feet away. Up walks an older gentleman with a nascar hat and his wife. It’s Kathy and Dave, the kind people who keep this cache stocked. They offer us a cold beer, and we sit with them and talk as I devour all the food and 5 sodas. Yes, five cans in an hour.

In addition to all mentioned above, they have a solar heated shower bag with a place to shower. They also made the picnic table themselves and want everyone to sign it with sharpie. At the end of every hiker season Dave laminates the boards and puts them on the walls of his ‘man cave’. They also have a camera, and want everyone to take their photo as they pass through, for records, along with a register. I’m telling you, this place is out of control. So great.

Kathy and Dave tell us this is their third time coming by today. They have a place a few miles down the dirt road, and just love helping hikers out. I can tell they really like socializing with them as well, just throwing a few back and kickin’ it with all the hiker trash. Gotta love it!

After a few hours Kathy and Dave take off, and carrot and I reluctantly follow suit. It’s been just over 2 hours, we need to move on or we’ll never get anywhere. Plus, it’s only 6 miles to Burney falls state park, where I have a few boxes to pick up.

We hike on through the scorching sun on the dusty trail to Burney, and are greeted there by eleventy billion tourists. They all looks at us funny, especially as we are sorting our resupply. They likely have no idea what the pct is, let alone that it goes right through the park. An older couple walks up to us, and the woman asks about the solar charger carrot has in the sun, charging her phone as we sort our food.

“Is that a solar charger?” She asks
“It is, we use it on the pct.” Carrot responds.
“Hunny, come see this, they have a solar charger they are using to charge their phones out here.” She says to her husband who is sitting at the picnic table next to us. He’s got a yellow Ralph Loren polo shirt on, with his hair combed to the side.
“I don’t need one of those, I live in society!” He says back to his wife.

Carrot and I check out the falls, which are really beautiful. They come out of nowhere. It’s been hot and dry all day, yet here’s all this water. Reaching over 100 feet, the falls are fed from meltwater on nearby mount Burney. It’s cool to see, but there are far too many people around, and I feel a bit awkward being there so out of place.

We set out to hike 5 more easy miles, over a dam and to rock creek. It’s hot, even late in the day, and the cold pools in the creek are a welcome site. Carrot feels no cold, and gets in. I sit and watch in amazement, as I can barely keep my feet in long enough to clean them. I retire to my bed happy. A day where I found more joy in a nice cold soda than I ever thought imaginable.