July 1, 2017
Total daily miles: 21.4 miles
Total PCT miles: 1021.0 miles
Start: Burney Mountain Guest Ranch (mile 1407.2)
End: mile 1427.9
Total elevation gain/loss: 3164.4/1725.1 ft
We were a bit slow getting out of the Burney Mountain Guest Ranch this morning (as is typical of our mornings out of town). The allure of some last minute wifi drew us in. Lucky, the Siamese cat, may have also contributed to the delay… We still made it out before any of the other hikers though!
Our morning hike was fairly flat and largely shaded, making for easy miles on the way to Burney Falls. A couple miles down the trail, we ran into the Wild Bird Cache. It was complete with lemonade and Red Vines! I enjoyed paging through the log book to see who’s currently ahead of us. With so many people skipping this year, it’s hard to know whether people are in front of us or behind us!
We arrived at Burney Falls at around 10am. The falls aren’t technically on the PCT, but they’re only a short side trip and well worth it. I can’t recall if I visited as a kid, but it certainly felt as though it was the first time that I’d seen them.
What looked like a normal creek ended up transforming into a gigantic waterfall! We took the paved pathway down to the base of the falls for a better look. The temperature difference between the parking lot area and the base of the falls was significant — it was already hot at the top of the trail and at the bottom it was chilly! Of course, the other difference was that we’d spend the morning alone on the PCT and were now surrounded by people. It was great to see so many people excited about visiting a state park!
We decided to take advantage of the park’s General Store for a cold drink and (slow) wifi near the ranger station. It was only 11, but we opted to eat lunch in the shaded pavilion instead of stopping down trail in an hour. It was a great choice because as we were packing up a park volunteer came riding up in a golf cart looking for PCT hikers to give hot dogs to! A second bit of trail magic for the morning!
Refreshed and feeling full (at least for me since Michael doesn’t eat hot dogs), we headed out again into the heat. We only had about six mikes to go until Rock Creek, where we planned to siesta through the heat of the day. We were back in the trees for a bit before crossing the extremely exposed Lake Britton Dam.
I knew that we had a climb after the dam and I worried about how bad it would be in the heat. Luckily, much of the climb was shaded, which was a huge help (especially considering how much I was sweating in the shade). By the time I reached Rock Creek I was ready for a swim. A hiker was leaving as I arrived, so I headed down under the bridge to relax in the shade and go for a swim.
The water was cold, but not glacial, and felt amazing! I dunked myself up to my neck (can’t ruin yesterday’s access to real hair conditioner!), which was a bit of a trick since the water was only a couple feet deep. Eventually, other hikers showed up as well (including Peanut, Lieutenant Dan, Monster, and Fluffy). We ended up hanging out under the bridge for at least a couple hours — it was so much better than hiking in the heat! It felt like such a luxury to sit around and swim in the middle of a hiking day!
Of course, we still had more miles to put in for the day. And all of them were uphill. We set off at around 5, hoping for shaded trail and cooler temperatures — which we largely found.
We set our sights of collecting water for the night from a small stream about five miles up trail. Once we got there, we crossed our fingers that we’d find a campsite that wasn’t listed on Guthooks and kept walking. The trail in this section was incredibly overgrown. Lots of brush and bushes that sometimes covered the trail so thickly that you had to hope that you were actually still on trail and not about to step into a hole. And we were still climbing up the mountain. Not the most promisingly terrain for finding a campsite. When we crossed a dirt road with fallen logs across it, we decided to follow the road downhill to see if we could find a flat spot. A couple hundred yards downhill we found a great turnoff that had clearly been previously used as a campsite. Yea!
We weren’t the only ones to have found the site though. The mosquitoes where there in swarms as well. We ended up eating inside the tent in an attempt to retain our sanity (which may or may not have worked). Just as I was convinced we were all alone (with the thousands of bugs), a couple guys came riding by on their bikes. So random.
Hopefully we don’t have any other surprise visitors in the night! At least it actually seems cool enough to wear my wool base layer tonight — first time in awhile!