When Bluejay woke me up last night as she climbed down from the top bunk, she was feeling sick. She went outside to throw up but wasn't able to do so.
Later, when it was time to get up and prepare to go back to the trail, she told me she had barely slept last night. She said she was feeling achy and nauseous.
|Date||Wednesday, October 16, 2019|
|Weather||Partly cloudy and breezy, high temperature in the mid-60s|
|Trail Conditions||Easy with a mostly smooth footpath|
I knew right away this situation was not good but hoped a little time would give her a chance to feel better. Still, her description of how she felt sounded too much like the flu.
We waited until nearly 8 a.m. before walking to Firefly's house. When Firefly told us snow was in the forecast, that seemed to be enough to convince Bluejay it was time to go home. As I learned a few weeks ago, she is not fond of hiking in snow.
Now I was torn. Maybe we could wait a day to see if Bluejay got better? If she had the flu, that wouldn't happen right away. What about the weather? That was a looming unknown. And what about Kim's plan to meet me in Truckee? She had already bought her plane ticket.
Firefly offered to drive Bluejay to the airport in Redding, and that was enough to convince Bluejay it was time to leave the trail. Under these circumstances, it was the right thing for her to do.
I decided to get back on the trail instead of worrying about the weather. If I got knocked off because of snow, I would just deal with it at the time. I've learned to not make hiking plans around a weather forecast.
This was an unexpected end to a wonderful hiking partnership. Bluejay was a strong hiker and a good friend. I thought for sure we'd reach Truckee together, and then she would flip down to Walker Pass to finish the rest of the trail to Mexico.
We hiked together for nearly all of the last 12 weeks. She was easy going and there was never any friction between us. She made my hike better and I knew I would miss her.
After a bittersweet goodbye, Firefly drove me back to where she had picked us up yesterday. I started hiking at 8:15 a.m.
The side trail going back to the PCT was only about three-tenths of a mile long. Once I was back on the trail, the first five miles made a gradual climb.
The last mile of the climb followed Hat Creek, a tributary of the Pit River. The creek's unusual name comes from a story told about some surveyors working on a route for the Nobles Emigrant Trail in 1852. Supposedly, one of the men lost his hat in the creek, which amused the others enough to name the creek for the incident.
Nobles Trail was first used that same year. It continued to be used extensively until the 1870s when railroads became the preferred mode of transportation.
Though the trail was flatter and easier than I expected, it wasn't entirely flat. The next four miles gained 1,200 feet.
The trail passed Badger Mountain in the last two miles of the climb. Across a valley, I had an excellent view of mountains like Sunflower Flat and Lassen Peak.
Many of these are active volcanoes with relatively recent intermittent eruptions. By relatively recent, I mean within the last 50,000 years.
Lassen is the southernmost active volcano in the Cascade Range. It stands at 10,457 feet. The last recorded period of activity happened from 1914 to 1921.
The largest eruption happened on May 22, 1915. Lassen Volcanic National Park became the nation's fifteenth national park in 1916.
Near the end of the climb, the trail entered the national park's boundary, which covers more than 100,000 acres.
Within the park are several hydrothermal features. They include boiling mudpots, roaring fumaroles, and sulfurous gas vents.
Bear canisters are required for camping within the park, but I intended to avoid that problem by camping tonight at Warner Valley Campground. Bear boxes were provided there and I was guessing there would be space available for me this time of year.
When the trail reached Badger Valley, it entered one of the largest areas of burnt forest I had seen on the PCT.
A lightning strike started the fire on July 23, 2012, and before it could be contained a month later, it had consumed 28,079 acres.
The valley was windy. As I walked between the dead, burnt trees, I heard a "crack" and then a "thud." Then there was another. And another.
Trees were being toppled by the wind. One fell close enough to me that when I turned to see where the noise had come from, I saw dust rise from the ground.
I thought, how ironic was this? Someone who enjoys walking in a forest is about to be crushed to death by a tree.
I breathed a little sigh of relief when I reached the end of the burnt part of the forest.
The trail passed Fairfield Peak, but I never saw it because of the trees, which thankfully were as alive as I was. It then passed two lakes. The larger of these was called Lower Twin Lake.
Going south of the lakes, the trail passed through a flat meadow.
When it reached Grassy Swale Creek, it followed the creek for the next 2.8 miles. The trail crossed the creek once, but that was an easy rock-hop.
Just below where Grassy Swale Creek flowed into King Creek, the trail crossed King Creek. This crossing was a little more tricky.
The only way across was to wade or walk over a dead tree. I chose to walk across, but it took some focus. I kept my eyes directed on the log and the steps immediately ahead of me, and tried to ignore the water swiftly flowing underneath.
After successfully crossing, I filtered water from the creek. No mentions of the campground in the Guthooks app said anything about a water source there except for faucets. I assumed those had been turned off by now.
I still had about 2.5 miles to go to reach the campground. The trail climbed about 445 feet up and over Flatiron Ridge, then dropped 750 feet into Warner Valley.
I arrive at the campground at 6 p.m. Considering my late start, I was happy with the result. Completing more than 23 miles in less than 10 hours was a hike I would gladly do any day.
I was the only camper in the campground. The privies were locked, and as I expected, the water faucets had been shut off.
The night was lonely here, but I was going to have to get used to that. This was the way the rest of my hike was going to be.