Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Burney Falls

I only walked 20 miles across the Hat Creek Rim and my goal for the day, July 23, was to hike only 20 miles again to Burney Falls. My hope was that if I kept my mileage down my feet might fare better. I was beginning to get worried about their prospects for survival all the way to Ashland. Even so, the 20 miles across the Rim seemed to wear them out quite a bit and I spent several uncomfortable hours in my tent waiting for the Ibuprofen to quell the shooting pains and allow me to fall asleep.

In the morning, as I packed up and hiked out of the campsite with Rolleicord and Enviro still sleeping, my feet felt better but not healed by any means. I forced myself to just stay in the present moment and not think about Ashland or whether I should go further than that or not.

The trail continued to be viewless and smoky. The sun was weak and red but the air was still and hot. The trees looked a lot like the trees in my own backcountry around Lost Valley trail. I felt kind of at home.

Eventually I reached a large creek and a PG&E powerhouse. The guide book said to cross the river on a bridge. The bridge had been fenced off with no trespassing and no foot traffic signs. The powerhouse had signs all around that the water was dangerous and that they could release more water into the creek at any time. The creek itself looked black and deep, more of a swim than a ford. My choice seemed to be to trespass and stay dry or risk injury and death in the deep water. I made my choice and continued onward.

My mind was quite focused on getting a shower at Burney Falls campground as I pounded the ground all day. Eventually I was near but had a little difficulty finding the campground because the Book of Lies (as the guidebook came to be called by Enviro) was a little confusing about how to get there and I was so impatient that I thought a nearby road might be a shortcut. But eventually, after viewing the rather pretty falls that fall from on high and also seep out of the layered rock, I found the campground entrance and promptly asked for directions to the store and showers. The lady at the entrance said naturally I'd want the store because I was probably hungry. Really all I wanted was something cold to drink and a bar of soap.

I took a 10 minute shower with my bar of soap, then washed all my clothes in the laundry sink with the bar of soap. Bar soap doesn't work very good for laundry. The smell of it never quite rinsed out and I got stuck smelling that soap for several more days afterwards. But it felt so good to be clean even if it wouldn't last very long. The trail across the Rim had been a powdery, dusty mess that poofed around me with each step and formed wads of clay inside my shoes when mixed with my sweat that made walking even more painful than normal.

I waited for my clothes to dry out and then returned to the store, hoping to see other hikers there. The campground seemed quite lonely as the only hiker there in the backpacker's site. I found no hikers there so I bought a few resupplies for the next section and a couple of cold beers and returned to the site and attempted to read a book I found in the hiker box. I checked my phone and discovered I had phone service so I called Tony and talked to him for a while. I even talked to my parrot, Fergie. I realized I missed home.

The beers hit me hard, even with a belly full of starchy trail food, and I became really drunk so I laid out my Z-rest and sleeping bag and passed out for a couple of hours. When I awakened there were mosquitos so I put up my tent and went to bed alone. In the middle of the night I heard two hikers arrived but never found out who they were.

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