Day 79: Monday, July 22

Sleeping in a bed at Paul's house in Burney (PCT mi 1415.7), walked 34.5 miles over Hat Creek Rim today

At 2:45am some people in cars drove into the parking lot by us and made an incredible amount of noise involving the garbage cans (oh the mysteries of Northern California / the entire Northwest), and this prepared me nicely for waking up at 4 for Hat Creek Rim. Succeeded in getting up and out quickly, by about 4:25, Shorts was up too and said he'd be on his way presently just behind me. Walked with a headlamp for about 45 minutes, in the process passing Toyoji, the ancient Japanese man who walks about 1mph but is impossible to outpace over the long run (I first saw him at Richardson Lake, July 7, over two weeks ago). Passed another hiker just after dawn ... It was funny seeing everyone up and crawling along so early trying to beat the heat. But after that guy there was no one for the next 30 miles except me and Shorts, who caught me up around 7am.

Hiking with him made the Rim seem to go by incredibly fast. The trail was flat, and it was also kind of ugly aside from the constant view to the northwest of the valley and Mt. Shasta, and I would have suffered badly from the monotony if I hadn't had a conversation partner the whole time. Before we knew it we were at the first water cache after 12 miles, then the next one after 16. The latter was I think the clutchest and most well-thought-out cache on the whole trail so far--an entire shady domed roof constructed from loose brush, chairs underneath, lots of water, and a cooler with some Gatorade, a Virgil's cream soda (!!!), and beer in it. Stayed there for about a half-hour, then pushed on.

The entire afternoon is one blurry march through the heat, which was bad but never unbearable and often mitigated by a breeze. Stayed very comfortable on water (I started with 5.5 liters and supplemented with cache drinks) up until the first real water source for 29 miles at Rock Creek. By then it was 4pm, we'd done 30 miles and we had only 4 to go til the highway to Burney. Lauren from Eugene had given me the contact info for Paul, a Burney man who had been helping her with her geology field work for the past few summers. I'd been in touch with him throughout the day and he came to pick us up at the highway when we got there at 6. He said, "Want two cold ones?" and handed us a Hoegaarden apiece right away, then drove us down into town to his home. A long story short, we were foot-bathed, showered, laundried, and fed a meal of delicious grilled chicken, corn on the cob (Mitch all together!), and salad from his garden. He's one of the nicest people I think I've ever met in my entire life. He went to bed early because he gets up at 4 for work, but we have the run of the place in the morning and then at some point I'll have to get hiking again. 34 miles in 13 hours doesn't come without a cost.