I didn’t sleep much during the night. At 5am, I heard people shuffling around, and at 5:30, a car pulled up close to where I was lying on the ground. Hikers loaded their packs in and headed out for the trail, one carload at a time. I got up at 6:30 and found out that the Braatens were leaving for the day, and that they would be making the last trip to the trail in a half an hour! I went to the bathroom, gathered my wet clothes off the line, and wrote a note, asking to have the package that Tanya had sent, but which had not yet arrived, forwarded. I left some money in the donation jar and gathered up my things.
By 7:15, I was back at the store, waiting until the restaurant opened at 8 to have some breakfast before heading off again.
In the meantime, I spread my wet clothes out on the picnic table and got to the task of sorting through my food. I ended up having a lot to donate to the hiker box. I didn’t know what to do about my shoes because they still had so much life left in them, but there was no post office that I could sent them home from. It felt like a waste of money to just leave them behind and I felt very sad about it.
The restaurant opened and the two girls who had slept on the porch and I went in and sat at the bar. Although they were friendly with each other, they were not interested in conversing with me, which made me feel lonely. I ordered a California Goldrush omelet with my coffee and sat waiting over an hour for it to appear! In the meantime, I fretted about my inability to contact my resupply people. I had learned from the notes that Fun Size let me have that the store at Burney Falls State Park only accepts UPS! This was my next stop and a huge problem because I was sure that Ham had already sent out my package by USPS! She had texted me that she had sent out the fuel canister that I had asked her to send there. If my box was not going to arrive, I needed to ask them to express mail the box that they did not send to Belden as a replacement. I also needed to explain to them why it was important that I got each of the boxes that I had specifically packed for the upcoming section at those locations- with the correct number of days of food, maps, guidebooks pages, and particular supplies that I needed to replace, such as contact lens solution. I wondered if I would get reception during the next climb… By the time, my omelet arrived, it was cold! Multi-tasking seems like a difficult thing to do for cooks in these small places along the trail. The three of us were the only patrons in the place!
Our guidebook had said that Belden was a very creepy place, due in large part to raves that were held along the river during the summer. Luckily, no such thing was going on while I was there! I did learn that our server was the one who put on the raves! My intestines were in a lot of distress during the time I sat at the bar and I had to take multiple trips to the bathroom. Although I wished I could have had the french toast, I decided against it due to the pain in my stomach. Town food definitely hurt it more than backpacking food! When I figured out that our server had given the other girls the wifi passcode, I asked if I could also have it to write a quick e-mail. He hesitated, asked that I not download anything, and then gave it to me. I was able to send out an e-mail and then went back outside to resume sorting and packing. Viking was standing in front of the hiker box, taking out many of the things I had just put in there. Red and Andy Dufresne walked in off the trail, and later SunDog and Giggles appeared, as well. They were being picked up by a friend who was taking them into Quincy. A motorcyclist commented on the ice cream bar that Giggles was eating. “Isn’t it too early to be having ice cream?”.
“Not when you have been walking 25 miles a day!” she responded.
He apologized. It was sad to me that the ice cream bar didn’t even seem appealing. I packed everything up, laced up my new shoes, and sadly left my other ones under the bench. It was after 11:00 by now, and part of me still wanted the french toast, so I returned to the bar for more coffee and placed another order. They looked beautiful, but my stomach was too hurt to eat more than a few bites.
Outside the store, a woman was talking to one of the two guys, telling them that they shouldn’t attempt the climb in the middle of the day and should take a rest day instead. There had been a very bad recent fire that scorched the next section of trail, leaving no shade for much of the 5,000 foot climb. She had been watching the Tour de France and said that we need rest days just like they do! I did my best not to listen to what the lady was saying. I had no choice but to start the climb now.
I headed across the river and then the road, and re-found the other side of the trail. It was 95 degrees out and I sweated more during this climb than I had in a long time. I saw a hiker ahead of me with a pack that looked too big to be a thru-hiker. However, it turned out to be the guy that had slept by the same side of the house as me. He was starting his hike here. Because of my frequent breaks, I didn’t catch him as early as I expected, but once I overtook him, I never saw him again.
I made it through the burn area and took a break by the sign that told me I was now entering Lassen National Forest.
I still had well over 3,000 feet to climb. I didn’t see anyone else for the remainder of my day, and just took the climb slowly.
I kept checking to see if I had reception, always finding that I did not. I was very glad that I was able to get that wifi code down at the store! I reached the sign pointing to Andesite spring and headed down the path to collect water for the night and morning. What I found was a very shallow stream from which I was unable to collect more than a couple of drops of water from. I headed downstream, and checked out numerous places that looked like the water was flowing better. All of them were inaccessible. It was now growing dark and I was losing too much time. My intestines were also acting up. I decided I would have to abandon any chance of collecting water here and hope there was another source not too far ahead. I came out onto a ridge and again checked for reception. This time, I found that I had a little. I had received a long and defensive text from Brian, telling me that they were not at fault for my missing packages and seemed to blame me instead! This was not what I needed to hear in my sick and vulnerable state. I also learned that Ham had shipped out a fuel canister to Burney, but not my resupply package! Several weeks earlier, I had explained that they would simply have to place the canister in my pre-packed box and ship it ground. I know had to ask them to please send my box by express mail in order for it to be there when I arrived. Everything seemed to be falling apart!
I walked on for another half an hour or so and came upon a tiny stream! There was even a sign that read, “Little Frog Spring!”. How amazing! None of my apps or guidebook pages had mentioned this source! I wondered if I should collect water or find a spot to set up camp. My mind was in a confused state. I followed the stream back and found a little cascade coming off the rocks. Perfect! It was nearly dark, so I grabbed my pack and found a camp spot that turned out to have been heavily used. A lot of trash had been left behind, which did not make me feel comfortable. I also couldn’t find a very flat spot. I returned to collect some water and decided to wait until morning to filter it because it was too late and I was too tired. I boiled some pasta, ate some chocolate, and watched the sun disappear before climbing into my sleeping bag. I was happy that I had found this spring, but still stressed about my resupply packages and now the tension that they had created.