Day 92: To Burney Falls, In Search of Water!

Day 92
July 19
mile 1402-1423.8
21.8 miles

It was too warm for the mosquitoes to go to sleep. Instead, they kept me awake with their constant attempts to bite me. I hoped no one would walk by me early in the morning, and luckily no one did! I got up at 6:23 and boiled water for my coffee. While I sat in my sleeping bag, eating my granola, E-Path and Forget-me-Not passed by and asked me if I had felt the heat radiating from the lava rocks. I had not.
I packed up and headed out at 7:38. It was already very hot in the morning hours! When I hiked with Fun Size a couple of days ago, he asked me if I was planning on hiking on Friday. I thought that was a funny question. Why wouldn’t I hike on Friday? I hike every day! He told me it was going to be over 100 degrees that day. Although I hate the heat, and although it is never pleasant to hike in such temperatures, especially when there are no water sources for 20 miles along the trail, I knew I would still rather be out here hiking than sweating on my couch in my living room back home, doing nothing!
I heard several owls calling to each other in the morning hours and later, was scared by two deer, who immediately ran off when they saw me!
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After several miles, I came to a paved road with painted foot prints to show us the way, which amused me. There was no way to get lost here! The landscape reminded me of the hotter and drier sections of the Colorado Trail. I came across the ribcage bones of an animal and was disappointed to find the names of hikers written on it with marker. I felt like it was an egotistical act to do that and was not at all following the leave no trace principles.
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The temperature continued to soar and I was nearly out of water by now. In a few more miles, I came to a huge black pipe from the powerhouse with a hole in the middle of it and a strong spray of water jumping out. Nearby, there was a sign pointing to a water source a quarter of a mile away. A quarter of a mile? I decided to take out my platypus and try to catch some of the spraying water, but found it impossible. It was shooting straight up in the air! I looked at my app and saw that there was a spring in 12 miles and decided I could make it that far if I needed to, even though it would be a very uncomfortable 12 miles!
I walked on and came to the powerhouse dam where people were fishing. A strong current of water was cascading down a wall, but I could not figure out how to get to it! I decided not to walk down to the bank of the river and try to collect there, as my filtration system requires running water.
Soon after, I found myself off the trail and on a paved road. I wished someone could point me back to the PCT, but somehow I was able to eventually refind it, myself. I saw what looked like an outhouse in a parking lot and thought about walking over to it, but it was too far away. I just kept walking ahead. Then, fortunately, I came to a couple of ponds, after I thought I walked by the last possible sources! I crawled down one of the banks and managed to collect some gushing water, happy that I wouldn’t have to survive the next 11 or 12 miles in a dehydrated state!
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I took my collecting bags to a slope in the trees ahead and sat down to filter the water and snack. My energy was very low due to the heat. I wondered if some kind person might put out some water for us on the stretch of trail ahead. Cool water was the thing I most desired. By now, the temperature was well over 100 degrees.
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I continued on, walking toward the highway where some hikers planned on trying to hitch into the town of Burney. Just before the road, there was a sign on a tree that said “Wild Bird Cache, 1 mile ahead”. I didn’t get excited because, often, there was nothing there, even when promised.
I walked on, feeling dirty and tired, and soon enough, came upon a set of of chairs, a picnic table, several coolers, and two garbage cans! One of the coolers was filled with ice, bottles of water, and sodas! The thing I was wishing for came true! Within a few minutes, a go-cart pulled up on the dirt road several yards away. I knew it was the people who had set this up- Randy and his wife, Kathy. They were surprised to find unmelted ice still in the cooler! They encouraged me to sit in one of the chairs and enjoy some snacks. I asked them why they did this for us and Kathy said it was fate. They had found a house at the end of this lane, not knowing what the PCT was, and when they encountered their first PCT hikers making their way north, starting learning about this long trek and wanted to help us out! Randy made a picnic table so we could take our packs off and rest for a bit, and wanted us all to sign our names on it. At the end of the season, he hangs the top of the picnic table in his garage like a plaque. They also left a camera for us to take self-portraits and matched our faces to our names in the register that they also provided. Randy let me look at the pictures that he had developed so far, and I was able to provide a few corrections for him. On the back of Smooth Operator’s photo, he had written, “Love Operator” which highly amused me! He had signed his entry “Love, Operator”, but Randy thought that was his trail name!
Kathy told me that I had some 6,000 foot climbs coming up after Mt. Shasta, which made my jaw drop. I thought we were done with the big climbs! She also said the mountains were the same color as my shirt, which I couldn’t really believe…
I was so thankful for the cold water. After they left, I made a probiotic drink from some powder that Susan had sent to me, and then got going. I still had six or seven miles to get to Burney State Park.
By now, it was 104 degrees! So hot! I had to just keep moving and get through it, as hard and slow going as it was.
Yogi’s guidebook made it seem that the State Park was right on the trail, but in fact, it was not! There were a couple of different options on how to get to the store and I spent a good amount of time looking at my maps and reading the descriptions of routes past hikers had taken.
I was glad that I didn’t have to collect water at the next spring, because it, too, was well off the PCT!
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Eventually, I reached the next highway and continued on, looking everywhere for the campground and trail to Burney Falls. I saw a bridge ahead and decided to turn back and take the signed path, following the small headwater pool as it turned into a river, and finally into the falls.
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I stood at an overlook and was very unimpressed with the view. I was so tired and just wanted to pick up my package! I reached the road, saw the tollbooth and thought the store was past that. It was a good thing I stopped to ask, as it turned out to be in the other direction!
At 4:28, I finally arrived at the store! I was charged $9 to pick up my two boxes- one which just contained the fuel, and the other, which was my regular resupply box. I had since learned that my box meant to be shipped to Belden had indeed been sent there, but had gotten lost in the mail! I also saw that it cost $7 to ship my fuel canister alone. I had to let that go…
I walked over to the restrooms and couldn’t believe the salt and dirt stains on my back! Never in my life did I look so dirty! I found an outlet outside the store and plugged in my iphone and camera charger and then set to work on organizing my food for the next stretch. Ham had packed this box full with pink styrofoam peanuts, which added an additional layer of work to clean up!
I hadn’t seen any other thru-hikers all day (with the exception of E-Path and Forget me not in the morning) until Runs with Elk waved to me on her way out of the park. She had just taken a shower in the campground and I told her that was my plan, as well! The clerk inside had begrudgingly given me $2 in coins for it- the most she could exchange. I decided to buy a polish hot dog and frappachino for dinner and couldn’t believe how quickly I polished off that drink! I thought about buying a second one, but my self-control won, and I headed down to the campground.
The two showers were both being used, so I washed a few articles in the sink in the meantime, hoping that I could jump in soon, as I needed to get back out to the trail! Finally, a shower opened and I surprised myself again by not even using my full 12 minutes! A lady chatted with me as I combed my hair, wanting to know if I was staying here overnight, and commented on the sunburn on my chest. She was surprised to hear that I was heading right back out.
I ran into a nice girl who had talked with me while I sat outside the store, who was returning from her evening walk around the Falls. I asked her if she knew how to get back to the PCT, as I felt the way I had taken to get in was far too long. She took out her map, pointed me in a different direction, and then came running back to apologize. She had gotten mixed up. I was glad that I got to see the Falls from this vantage point, as I could see essentially nothing from the overlook I was standing at before I got to the store!
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I decided I would just walk out the same way I came in, as I knew that would get me back to the trail.
By the time I did, it was 7:41. I felt disappointed that I didn’t get in more miles today. I walked past a campground area and made it to the intersection with the bridge that also lead to the park and soon after, saw a flat patch of ground that was suitable for me to sleep on in the woods.
As I boiled water for my dinner, the piece of my stove that adjusts the flow of gas came off! The flame was still lit and I didn’t know how I was going to fix this! Somehow, with calmness and patience, I managed to… Every piece of gear was testing me out here!
Once again, I calculated the number of miles I would have to do each day if I wanted to have any time of at all… It was 25!! This was going to be an incredibly exhausting and difficult feat!

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