Monday, October 22, 2012

Day 93 to 94 - JJ's Cafe and Hat Creek Rim

July 27 -28
Day 93 to 94
Miles:  25+30
Total Miles:  1408

Mt. Shasta from Hat Creek Rim

The morning of July 27th started with a can't-miss breakfast at the Drakesbad Guest House.  Jubel and I then made an escape, leaving the camp near Drakesbad at 10:30 AM, feeling the pull of the trail.  Old Station was our next stop and we made it to the "trailer park" after a long flat hike past OHV roads, tree farms, hunting trails, far off gun-shots accompanying our hike much of the way.  Besides some great views of Lassen today, the scenery in trees and the trail flat.  The Old Station trailer park turned out to be a big trailer campground (I was imagining a retirement community) and the neighboring burger joint was closed when we arrived.  We cowboy camped in a pine tree forest past the trailer park on a thick layer of pine needles - a soft bed.

The next day we hiked a few miles to Highway 44 and descended upon JJ's Cafe - wow!  First the Pipers, then Drakesbad, now JJ's Cafe!  I may gain some weight back in this stretch.  JJ's served up HUGE, thru-hiker-sized portions and it was delicious.  Jubel was skeptical at first, strategically steering the server with his questions - "how big ARE the breakfast burritos"  "I am really hungry - do you think I should put in a separate order of pancakes or do you think the special will be enough?"  "How many hikers do you get through here?"  "Do you understand that we burn 6,000 calories a day?"  The food comes out and we both finish our breakfasts with side orders of pancakes satisfied as only a well-fed thru-hiker can be after a large salty syrup-drowned carb-loaded protein-rich breakfast.

Jubel in the Subway Cave
Past Old Station we reached the Subway Cave - a lava tube formed about 20,000 years ago when underground lava flows in the Hat Creek Valley cooled and lava drained to form a tube-like cave.  We then climbed up and along the Hat Creek Rim, one of the driest stretches on the PCT.  

From the, here is a description of this region:

"The Hat Creek Rim is a fault where the earth’s crust has been shifted vertically along fissures, crevices, and fractures caused by powerful subterranean forces. Still “alive and cracking” today, the floor of Hat Creek Valley is over 900 feet below the top of the rim. However, one million years ago the rim and the valley were at the same elevation."

Jubel on Hat Creek Rim
Though dry, the views were astonishing.  After lunch at a fire lookout tower situated at the highest point of the fault, we crawled along the ridge to a viewing spot as the sun began to set on Mt. Shasta, the second major volcanic peak of the Cascades.  Dinner, sunset, night-hiking.  To take advantage of the cool evening we descended the Hat Creek as orange turned to grey and then black...through ankle-snapping lava fields, shin-jabbing yucca, threatening prickly-pear, down steep switch-backing trail and then soft grassy fields turning into a great desert forest.  We walked by starlight until it became un-manageable, then by dimming headlamp (batteries dying).  I lead for much of the way after the darkness envelopes the trail  - Jubel's presence a few strides behind me pushing me faster and faster in the dark  - competition, pride.  His smart phone keeping our rhythm with his selection of trail-tromping tunes.  There is something about night hiking.  I feel like the king of the trail moving through at night, trusting my instincts, my foot-placements are half trust/half intuition, my vision limited to just a few feet before me with my headlamp and moonlight or starlight giving me just enough light to know if I am in forest, desert, meadow.  I can't turn away from the trail for a second as each step needs careful pre-determination.  My thoughts are in the present only - on the trail in front of me, on the music from Jubel's smart phone, on the crunch of our feet on the rocks and dirt of the trail, on the shadows of trees and plants and streams and ridges blotting out the starlight.

We hike until eleven that evening, four hours in the darkness before reaching an empty cache - the promise of fruit and soda in the register - broken.  After passing a dirt road we find a couple of flat spots on an old power-line road and lay out our bags for the night.

Mt. Shasta from Hat Creek Rim


Post a Comment

PCT Northern Terminus

PCT Northern Terminus
On September 30, 2012 I reached the Northern Terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail. Thanks to everybody who supported and followed my journey. It was a life-changing experience!