Day 80: mile 1346.3 – mile 1369.7 (+.6 side trip to see the Geyser, +2 MORE MILES because I am lame 😡)
Elevation gain: 2,455 ft
Elevation loss: 3,465 ft
We found out today that Lassen National Park is thermal in every way. The Geyser was steaming, one of the lakes was boiling, the weather was blazing hot, plus we had 7.5 miles of exposed walking through a burn section on black volcanic rock gravel. Since we knew today was going to be hot, plus we wanted to see some of the cool things Lassen Park had to offer before the Saturday crowds, we were hiking before 7am today. Just 2 miles into the Park we took a .3 side trip to Terminal Geyser…REALLY cool!! We had never seen one of these before and the amount of steam it generated was unbelievable!
Then just 1.4 miles later was Boiling Spring Lake which was super cool as well!
It was only a couple miles further when we hit the campground with tons of people car camping for the weekend. The beauty of an open campground is that they always have running water that we don’t have to filter, plus pit toilets with actual toilet paper, AND trash cans. That means we got to get rid of our trash 3 days in a row…spectacular! We did some climbing after the campground which is when we got cell service in order to find out that the Rim Rock Ranch in Old Station had a vacancy in one of their cute little cabins for tomorrow night…YAHOO!! They had been completely booked when Mantis contacted them earlier this week because they normally want a 2 night minimum. But Link mentioned we were PCT hikers and the gal said she’d let us stay just one night. We are so excited to have a “better” town experience. We definitely aren’t looking for perfection, just “better” 😁
But just as “the trail provides”, the trail can also “taketh away” 😡 We were ecstatic about our luck with the cabin for tomorrow, I was leading, trying to correctly follow the trail signs right and left because there are SOOO many trail junctions in this Park! We knew we had one more climb that was about 4.5 miles long but only supposed to have 800 ft of elevation gain which we were so happy about because that meant it shouldn’t be very steep. So we were walking, and it was STEEP! Link had looked at the app earlier and knew it was mostly front loaded in the elevation sense, but this seemed REALLY front loaded. The trails still seemed similar enough, though. We had a stream crossing on a log which we had read was coming, but we were busy jabbering about what we wanted to do and eat in town…we were distracted to say the least. Then Link double checked the app to find out I had just taken us a WHOLE MILE up the wrong trail!!! UGH…not just any mile, but a mile with a TON of elevation gain we weren’t supposed to have today. So we had to walk the whole mile back to the trail junction and I was LIVID. Of course mistakes happen, of course I didn’t do it on purpose, but I just couldn’t shake it off. I even put the shoe on the other foot…if Link had taken us up the wrong trail would I have been upset? NO, of course not…and Link told me over and over he wasn’t mad or annoyed, but I WAS! I felt stupid for not reading the trail sign better (have I not been doing this for the last thirteen hundred miles??), I felt frustrated that we had to add extra miles and elevation to a day that already consisted of 24 miles, and I felt really badly for making Link do the extra miles when he doesn’t need to be expending any more energy than he already is. I knew I was being ridiculous to hold onto this anger, so I tried putting some music on to snap me out of it. A few more silent miles went by, but I was still fuming when we made it to our lunch spot at Lower Twin Lake at 2:00 (which should’ve been 1:00 😡). I knew I needed to rid myself of this self-loathing behavior, it wasn’t fun for me and definitely wasn’t fun for Link. So I jumped into the Lake…it was LOVELY! Link got in too and I apologized for being so lame. We lied on a log to dry off in the warm sun (with no mosquitoes!) and ate some random lunch snacks since we don’t have many choices left.
We didn’t stay too long since we still had 12 miles left to the campsite we were shooting for, since that was also the next water source. So we started walking at 2:45 around the rest of the Lake and all of a sudden we were being eaten alive by mosquitoes! We didn’t have any when we went swimming, but all of a sudden they were ravenous…landing on us and biting us even as we were walking! So we high tailed it out of there and were immediately thrust into the longest burn area we have walked through yet. We only had 7.5 more miles until we were out of Lassen National Park, and the ENTIRE time we had no shade with the sun beating down on us. The gravel under our feet was black and super hot as well so we both decided it was time to use our umbrellas for the first time since carrying them again 2 weeks ago. Instead of attaching them to our packs, we each put one trekking pole away and just held the umbrella with the other hand. This actually worked out really well because then we could move the umbrella around as the trail turned, or move it out of the way when we wanted to see our surroundings better. The terrain was flat, so only using one pole was super easy as well.
Having the shade, plus the easy terrain, really helped us be able to bust out the miles pretty quickly. As we finally exited Lassen Park, Rev was walking toward us. He told us about how he took a wrong turn earlier today as well! This made me feel a little better…many of the trail signs weren’t clear where they were pointing, that’s for sure. Rev was trying to figure out the water situation and decided to join us in walking another 4 miles to the stream and campsite. I told him there’s something about his voice that’s so soothing…just a slight Southern accent, calm and slow. I can totally picture his Parish loving to listen to him on Sundays! So we all made it to the campsite at 6:30 and it was still so warm that we didn’t even clean up or change into night clothes until after dinner. It’s the first time in 80 nights that I wasn’t freezing when first getting to camp! It was so nice to be able to wash up in the river which was much needed after the hot temps and super dusty trail today.
I wanted to name this post “A Loser in Lassen” (the Loser being ME, of course) but Link wouldn’t let me 😜 I know I will look back on this and chuckle one day…maybe. For now, I’ve completely let it go and am really looking forward to some town meals and the cute cabin tomorrow! It’s still so warm that I’m only sleeping in my smart wool pants and top…no beanie, socks or gloves at all! Thanks for reading and following along with us, guys! Double Down