Bluejay and I have seen almost no one on the trail since leaving Dunsmuir three days ago. We passed just one thru-hiker. There have also been few day hikers, which seemed odd considering this was the weekend and the weather was beautiful.
This situation was about to change, however. Today we would pass a state park and go into town. We would suddenly see many people.
And we met some kind strangers who helped make our hike a little easier.
|Date||Sunday, October 13, 2019|
|Weather||Mostly sunny, warming to the mid-70s|
|Trail Conditions||Easy, without much elevation change|
Frost was on the walls of my tent this morning when I woke up. The temperature hadn't been cold enough for that to happen in the last few days. The frost was there because we pitched our tents last night in an open area and not under trees.
I left our campsite before sunrise at 6:30 a.m.
The temperature warmed early, and I soon knew today would be a warmer day than the last few days.
The trail made a short climb to start, then began a long, gentle descent. In the next 7.5 miles, it would drop 2,400 feet.
The first part of the descent was mostly through a forest. When the trail later passed through a cleared section, Burney Mountain and Crater Peak could be seen through the haze.
The haze was thicker than before, and I was now more convinced than ever it was caused by fires in other parts of the state.
This area appeared to be a popular place for hunters. I never saw any wildlife, though. That may explain why some signs posted by the forest service were shot full of holes. I wondered if the hunters had run out of animals to shoot.
The descent continued through the morning as the trail headed to Rock Creek. Closer to the creek, the forest transitioned from pines and firs to deciduous trees. They were in peak fall colors.
Rock Creek passed through a narrow gorge. A well-constructed footbridge crossed high above the stream.
I reached the bridge at 10 a.m.
After crossing it, I scrambled down to the creek and collected water. The temperature in the shade and near the water was several degrees cooler than up on the trail.
After making a short climb, the trail descended again. Through the trees at the top, I could see the Pit River.
The unusual name for the river comes from the Achumawi, a Native American tribe. These people were also known as the Pit River Indians because they dug deep pits near the river to trap deer.
There are only three rivers that cut fully across the Cascade Range. I had already crossed the Klamath and the Columbia. The Pit River was the third, which I crossed at a dam.
There are several dams on this river. This one impounds a reservoir called Lake Britton, which is the largest lake in the Pit River system.
The dam was constructed in 1925 and was the first one built on the Pit River. Its name today is Pit 3 Dam.
It is owned by the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), the utility company that has been shutting off power because of the threat of fire in the state.
After crossing the river at the dam, the trail climbed a short distance up a hill above the lake.
About two miles past the dam was a side trail that led to McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park.
Bluejay had stopped for lunch just before the side trail, which gave me time to catch up. After I ate my lunch, we took the side trail to the park.
A 129-foot tall waterfall was the main attraction of the park. Bluejay and I thought we should stop to see it, but we also didn't want to spend a lot of time here.
Nearly eight miles remained before we would reach the road into the town of Burney, and the time was already after 1 p.m. We spent less than an hour there, but it was an eventful stop.
The park was packed with people enjoying a pleasant Sunday afternoon. After taking a quick look at the falls, we walked a short distance to the park's general store. Today was the last day for it to be open this season.
We were disappointed to learn the soft-serve ice cream machine was already turned off, but a freezer had ice cream bars. I bought one, along with a Gatorade.
There was no cell service in the park, but the manager kindly let us use the store's phone to call Shasta Pines Motel to check on vacancies.
Not only was I able to get a hiker rate for a room, but the motel manager also applied a AAA discount to that. She also agreed to pick us up when we reached the highway.
As we were leaving the park and returning to the trail, we were stopped by a woman. She too knew without asking we were thru-hikers. She then introduced herself. Her name was Firefly and she called herself a "retiring trail angel."
Firefly told us she lived in Old Station, the next town after Burney. She said when we arrived there, we should call her. She would pick us up and let us stay in her treehouse.
We were intrigued by her offer, so Bluejay took her phone number.
The rest of the hike was flat and easy. For the first 1.8 miles, the trail followed Burney Creek, then turned to follow the Pit River for a short distance.
The trail was so easy to walk I could walk while talking to Kim on the phone.
When Bluejay and I arrived at the highway at 5 p.m., we called the motel. The manager arrived a few minutes later to take us into town.
As we were checking in, we discovered a sporting goods store was across the street, and it was open until 6 p.m. Even though we hadn't yet taken a shower or washed our clothes, we went there to purchase fuel canisters. This saved us a chore to do tomorrow when we were trying to get back on the trail.
As we were leaving the store, the manager of the state park store drove by. When she recognized us, she waved and cheered at us.
Most of the restaurants in Burney were fast-food chains. Of those that weren't, most were closed on Sunday nights. A couple of comments in the Guthooks app mentioned the bowling alley down the street served good food, so we decided to give it a try.
Besides Bluejay and me, the only other people there were a cook in the kitchen, a bartender, and someone seated at the bar. No one was bowling.
We weren't surprised to find the menu was mostly fried foods. Still, we had a good meal and a beer too, so it was a satisfying way to finish a fun and busy day.