My mom and Lowell dropped me off at Highway 36 around 8am. In less than 4 hours I had arrived at the North Fork of the Feather River. The forest and views seemed so different from last year when I walked through smoke in the later season. Things were green. The air was clear. Lassen loomed.
I sat next to the river and bridge for a while. I was not sure of the time since somehow my watch had gotten screwed up, but it still seemed like morning. I only had 10 miles left to get to Drakesbad. I could take my time.
The trail spent most of the rest of the day climbing gently over a ridge and then after entering Lassen National Park, the trail descended toward Boiling Lake and then Drakesbad and Warner Valley Campground.
I decided not to visit Terminal Geyser. I like the pretty colors of Boiling Lake best of all the features I have seen in the park. I had been through this stretch now 3 times.
I saw Lassen looming so close now I could touch it. It amazed me that just the other day it was far away.
I saw a buck with large antlers near Boiling Lake. It disappeared rather than run crashing away.
When I reached Drakesbad, I went inside the main room and a girl sweeping up said she believed dinner was all booked up for the evening. I was disappointed, but I was welcome to use the pool. I went down and soaked for an hour in the hot water. The water seemed much hotter than last year. My feet did not hurt like last year, but 20 miles was 20 miles and the floating in the hot water felt good.
I knew there was a copy of the Yogi book in the office, so I got dressed and went inside to borrow it in order to figure out my resupply strategy for Oregon and Washington. Inside the office, I spoke to Billie who said of course there would be dinner for me. On the way back to the pool with the book in hand, I passed Ed who gave me a hug and said there's always food for PCT hikers. I should come for dinner near the end at 6:45. Hooray!
I sat at the pool with the Yogi book and got a lot of useful information for how to resupply in the town-scarce states of Oregon and Washington. Basically, I have to buy all my Oregon food in Ashland and mail it ahead and all my Washington food in Cascade locks and mail it ahead.
At 6:45 I lined up for dinner behind young men getting seconds and thirds. I got plenty of barbecued hamburger, corn, potato and salad.
Later one of the guests introduced me to the editor of the PCT Communicator who wanted to talk to hikers for an artical. I sat with her until dusk swatting mosquitoes, drinking red win and talking about the PCT.
I soon had to go into the woods before it was too dark to set up my tent. As I snuck away, Ed commented that I did not eat very much. I had been so well fed the last two weeks I felt all filled up. I hoped I would have foom in the morning for breakfast.
I thought later how I had started my hike trying to repeat sections I had done before in different time schedules so that I could see the same areas differently. Not so this section, which seems optimal to do so that you get breakfast and dinner and a dip in the pool at Drakesbad. How on Earth would I be able to manage wtih all the deprivation and loneliness to come?