July 20, 2015
Tentsite near Warner Valley Campground (1354.5) to Subway Cave (1381.7)
27.2 PCT miles today
1416.1 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 1,885 ft, – 3,218 ft
It’s a little crazy that Pickles and I get up every single day and pretty much settle in for hours and hours of nothing but walking. Before this hike, I would have thought that at this point in our journey I’d be bored out of my mind and dependent on music and books to keep me entertained. But in fact, even on a day where we were convinced we were walking in circles because practically nothing changed for hours and the landscape was completely and totally flat, we still managed to stay engaged and impressed all day long, sans headphones. And it was a very long day. Our longest yet, in fact, at over 27 miles. But as simple and repetitive as the environment was, we still cherished wide open views of Mt. Lassen, the rushing waters of Hat Creek, and this evening’s visit to Subway Cave.
We knew starting out this morning that after about 6 miles of easy hills, we were looking at a very long stretch of flat and slightly downhill hiking. We both felt good and made the confident decision that we’d hike all the way to the last water source before the infamous hot and dry Hat Creek Rim, which would make for a nice long day of laying down the miles. Occasionally we chatted or shared random thoughts, but we spent most of the day in silence, each lost in our own thoughts and appreciation for our surroundings. Even though Northern California has gotten drier and flatter, it hasn’t lost much beauty. It’s still covered in trees and it still features breathtaking views, sometimes of peaks but usually of rolling green mountains. We only took one break all day, an hour-long lunch break where I “iced” my feet in Hat Creek, we did laundry, and we took our time eating. After that, it was back to more of the same, with only slight variations in view.
We turned onto the Subway Cave spur trail before 4:30pm, excited for our high mileage and eager for rest. Much to our surprise, when we got to the parking lot (where we’d set up our tent alongside a water spigot and pit toilet), D.O.G. and Julio were here. We had a nice little catch-up before they headed out for some more miles. About 30 minutes before, when crossing Hwy 44, Pickles and I had managed to resist a stop at the nearby convenience store, but after our friends left, and we noticed the road leading back to the highway, we succumbed to temptation and Pickles made a snack run while I set up the tent. While he was gone, I was washing my legs and feet in the water spigot when a polite group of school kids walked up with their teachers and started asking some great questions. I loved chatting with them and sharing a bit about the PCT, and I’m hoping that they’ll check out this blog and perhaps be inspired to someday hike the trail themselves. Mostly I was just happy to see my favorite age group of people (7-12 years old) since out here on trail we’re pretty much always surrounded by other adults.
Pickles and I have spent an incredibly relaxing evening at the picnic tables in this little roadside attraction, eating tasty food, watching the birds and chipmunks play, and reveling in another night of perfect temps and zero bugs. Actually that reminds me, in the midst of all the monotony, there was a rain storm, but it passed so quick that I had forgotten about it altogether.
Tomorrow our day will be spent hiking the Hat Creek Rim, which although flat, should be a very interesting and unique portion of trail. We might end up quite lucky since it is rumored to be one of the hottest parts of the PCT, but the weather is calling for clouds and even some more rain. At this point I’m not sure if this trail could get any easier, but I am sure that it will somehow manage to get harder, so for now we’ll take all the easy we can get.