Quoi and I got up shortly after 6. Her foot was still hurting, but she was determined to hike today. Afterburners gave us a ride back to JJ’s Cafe on her way to work, and we got breakfast there — I got four of the largest pancakes I’ve ever gotten, and they were delicious.
We dawdled a bit thanks to the free WiFi — Quoi talking with her boyfriend and me working on my backlog of blog posts — and we didn’t leave the restaurant until 9 am. By that time, it was already warm out, with near-complete sun exposure.
After returning to the PCT, we quite quickly departed again, taking a side trail to the Subway Cave, a lava tube large enough to walk through. About a thousand feet long, it was completely pitch-black inside, though that was not a problem with our headlamps.
It was a pretty cool detour (in both senses of the word). Once back to the trail, an uphill climb in the hot sun awaited us, which was most assuredly not cool.
Around 11, I finished the climb up to the Hat Rim, at a parking area with an overlook down to the Hat Creek Valley below. While there, I met Phil and Mary, who were on vacation out exploring the area. They gave me a cold water bottle, as well as an apple and a banana, which really hit the spot after the climb up the hill. We chatted for awhile, until it was time for them to leave (which was right when Quoi arrived; they offered her the same).
Her foot was still giving her trouble, but Quoi was determined to soldier through the pain. She was afraid she has a stress fracture, but there’s no way to tell right now. But so far, her foot hasn’t swollen up, so that might be a good sign. I urged her to be careful, as I hiked on ahead of her.
Besides the Hat Creek Valley, the overlook provides a view back to Mount Lassen, as well as the first view of Mount Shasta, which looks like it will dominate the skyline in days to come.
While it was certainly hot today, I don’t think the 90- or 100-degree weather actually materialized. There was a persistent breeze blowing up from the valley along the rim that certainly helped out.
I liken the Hat Rim to a desert mostly due to the lack of readily available water, but also because of the heat and lack of shade. There are a few off-trail sources of water in a 40-mile stretch from Hat Creek to Baum Lake, but nothing directly on-trail. (The closest is the Cache 22 water cache, that’s located just off the trail, and which is our destination for the day.)
I took a break about six miles after the overtook. A few miles after that, there was some trail magic: a cooler with water, soda, craisins, crackers; a bag of oranges; and some candy and trash bags. The cooler had Shasta-brand Coke and Dr Pepper knock-offs; it seemed only appropriate to have a Dr Shasta in view of Mount Shasta.
I happened to have cell service at the trail magic, and got a message from Quoi that she didn’t think she’d make it to Cache 22; she had a headache, felt dizzy, and her foot was killing her. But, she’d try to night hike and get as far as she could. (At the time, she was 4.6 miles behind me, so getting to Cache 22 today was still feasible, she’d just get there late.)
With only a few miles to go, I stopped at a communications tower to clean out my shoes of all the plant debris that had accumulated since my previous break. There was quite a lot of crud. After I left, I saw a few rabbits along the side of the trail.
I reached Cache 22 — so named because it is on Forest Road 22 — around 6:45. It was only 17.3 miles, but that wasn’t too bad given the heat, and that with breakfast and the detour to the Subway Cave, we didn’t really start hiking until 10 am.
If Quoi doesn’t make it to Cache 22 tonight, it would be the first time in 51 days that we were not at the same campsite.
Tomorrow: The original plan was to go as far as possible today to allow cruising into Burney Mountain Guest Ranch tomorrow relatively early, chill during the afternoon heat, and doing 15 miles out in the late afternoon, but with Quoi‘s injury, that doesn’t seem likely to happen. What I’m expecting is likely to happen is I’ll get to the ranch (16.1 miles of mostly downhill from here) and stop there and wait for Quoi. I guess we’ll find out tomorrow.