PCT 2019: Day 161, Burney to Cache 22

What shall we say? Shall we call it by a name?

Golden rod and sage near Hat Creek Rim

The temperature was brisk but not freezing when Bluejay and I walked over to the motel office for breakfast burritos. For thru-hikers, they were just barely filling, but they were included with the cost of our stay.

We then walked a couple of blocks to a grocery store to do our shopping for the next section of the trail. Although we will be in another town tomorrow, resupply options won't be nearly as good in Old Station. We bought enough food to get us to Chester, which should be four days away.

After returning to the motel to repack our food, we were ready for a ride back to the trail.

DateMonday, October 14, 2019
WeatherSunny but hazy sky with a high temperature around 70
Trail ConditionsLong, gradual ascent; on a smooth footpath at first, then over volcanic rocks
Today's Miles17.7
Trip Miles2445.8

Settlers called this area “the valley where Burney was killed." That's why the creek, the mountain, the waterfall, and the town all have the same name.

The first white settler to live in this flat valley was a man named Samuel Burney. He was of Scottish descent, and his cabin was not far from where the town is located today.

In March 1859, some men passing through the valley on their way to Shasta discovered three Indians carrying some of Burney's possessions from his cabin. Assuming they were stealing, the men shot two of the Indians on the spot. A third escaped.

When the men entered Burney's cabin, they discovered he had been shot to death.

Eventually, “the valley where Burney was killed" was shortened to “Burney Valley." When the first post office was established, the town that grew around it was named for the murdered man like everything else.

As for the Indian who escaped when Burney's body was discovered, some people claim he was Chief Shavehead.

Old Shavehead, as he was sometimes called, lived until 1900. He was the last chief of the Hat Creek Indians.

Starting a day of hiking

After we checked out, the motel manager drove us back to the trail. We began hiking shortly before 9:30 a.m.

Baum Lake

This was a day of easy hiking. The first 1.5 miles made a gentle descent toward Baum Lake. The next eight-tenths of a mile then followed the shoreline.

The trail was mostly shadeless. The temperature had now risen to around 50°F and would soon be near 70°F.

A fish hatchery near Hat Creek Rim

A fish hatchery was located at the end of the lake, and after that was a small dam. Hat Creek was impounded here to form Baum Lake.

I chatted briefly with some people who were fishing from a bridge near the dam, then continued.

Bluejay hikes toward Hat Creek Rim

Next was a 1.5-mile climb. It was the steepest of the day, though you could hardly call it steep.

I met a flip-flop thru-hiker here. He was going northbound and had a child's pinwheel attached to his pack. I told him I thought I remembered seeing him and his pinwheel somewhere else on the trail. We couldn't figure out when that might have happened, however.

Flat trail

The trail appeared to be flat, though it continued to make a gradual climb. For part of the way, it was so smooth and easy I could cruise much faster than normal.

Bluejay found a log in the shade, so she stopped there for lunch. I caught up a few minutes later and joined her.

Volcanic rocks

After lunch, the trail became increasingly more rugged. At first, the area was scattered with volcanic boulders.

I could imagine this section of trail being incredibly hot for northbound hikers. In a normal year (one without a near-record snowfall), they would pass through here in July.

To make matters worse, this was also a dry section of the trail.

A hazy view of Burney Mountain

Farther up, the terrain became filled in jagged lava rocks. The dark, reddish-brown rocks reminded me of areas in Oregon, such as the stretch between Big Lake Youth Camp and the Obsidian Limited Entry Area.

This area wasn't as devoid of vegetation, though. It was filled with sage and goldenrod.

Burney Mountain was visible from the trail here, but just barely because of the heavy haze in the air. It was less than 12 miles away.

A hazy view of Lassen Peak

Looking ahead to the south, Lassen Peak could be seen but also not clearly.

Where the climb reached Hat Creek Rim, the trail continued along or near an escarpment for the next six miles. This would take us to a spot called Cache 22.

Oak leaves on Hat Creek Rim

Though they were few and spread out, there were trees on this plateau. Some were oak trees with orange, red, and brown leaves.

Gate posts made with rocks

With only a scattering of trees, wooden posts for fences and gates were impractical. Instead, a creative and sturdy solution was made using wire fencing to hold a large bundle of rocks.

Weathered old trees

This arid environment was not hospitable to trees. Some on the plateau looked battered and weathered.

A giant pine cone

Besides oak trees, Hat Creek Rim also had pine trees. I found some pine cones as big as my head.

Cattle at Cache 22

I reached Cache 22 at 5:30 p.m. Bluejay had only arrived a couple of minutes ahead of me.

We decided to camp here because this was the only water source available for the next eight miles. We might have wished to go a little farther. Considering our late start, however, walking almost 18 miles was good enough. We were able to come close enough to our desired daily average to be satisfied.

Just to be sure we shouldn't go any farther, we checked the closing time of JJ’s Cafe in Old Station. We wanted to get there before it closed tomorrow.

After calculating the distance, we felt confident we wouldn't jeopardize missing a meal there.

Cache 22

Cache 22 got its name because it is located near Road 22. The water supply is generously maintained by a man named Jim B. A note was attached to a fence surrounding the water tank, which requested donations to help keep the tank filled. I sent one through Venmo.

Noisy cattle wandered the area near the cache. I wondered if they would walk through our campsite, but they didn't get too close.

The plowman is broad as the back of the land he is sowing
As he dances the circular track of the plow ever knowing
That the work of his day measures more than the planting and growing
Let it grow, let it grow, greatly yield 

What shall we say? Shall we call it by a name?
As well to count the angels dancing on a pin
Water bright as the sky from which it came
And the name is on the earth that takes it in
We will not speak but stand inside the rain
And listen to the thunder shout
I am, I am, I am, I am


"Nothing to tell now. Let the words be yours, I'm done with mine."ref.