I was up late last night trying to do some catchup on blog posts, interspersed with some video editing, and wound up not going to sleep until after 11 pm. This meant I pretty much ignored my 6 am alarm, and got up at 7 instead. It was already warm out, which was good for getting out of my tent quickly, but bad for hiking today.
Quoi arrived at Cache 22 shortly before I got out of my tent, having had one heck of an evening. She kept hiking through the pain, though somewhat slowly, as might be expected. She made it not far past the communication tower I paused at when she saw a pair of eyes starting at her in from the bushes. Hoping that it was just a rabbit, she kept going, but then realized the eyes belonged to a mountain lion.
She tried to scare it off, but to no avail. Just as it appeared ready to pounce, two other guys who were camped not too far away and who had an encounter with the cat earlier, heard her yelling and came to her rescue, chasing the mountain lion off. She camped with them, pitching her tent directly in between theirs.
Her foot has also continued to get worse, and she was uncertain what she should do — whether to try and make it to Burney Mountain Guest Ranch (there is a low-traffic road she could get evacuated from if necessary), or try and get picked up from Cache 22. My suggestion was to stay at Cache 22 and call someone for a pickup. Otherwise, she risked injuring her foot further, which might require more time to heal back to hiking shape. (This was the same advice her boyfriend gave.)
I hiked off, heading to the Burney Mountain Guest Ranch, once Quoi said she’d stay at the water cache and get a ride to the ranch.
After six and a half miles, I stopped for a break at a campsite; checking to see exactly where I was at, I discovered he campsite was at mile 1400.1. Disappointed that I didn’t see a 1400 mile marker, I started to sit down, only to find there was a small one there made from sticks.
Just under three miles later, near a road crossing, I came across more trail magic! Gourmet, who had attempted a thru-hike this year but had to stop after a rock “had a disagreement” with his foot while coming down from Pinchot Pass. (Ultimately, he had to be evacuated by helicopter.) Gourmet had a few chairs, a cooler with ice-cold soda and beer, chips, and a stove to make hot dogs. It was pretty awesome. I relaxed there for a while, and was apparently the seventh hiker he’d seen today. Before I left, I helped him move everything into the shade; the sun had moved since he set up, and nothing was shaded anymore.
Thanks to Gourmet’s magic (and especially cold sodas), I thought I might be able to make it to the ranch without another break. However, it was too hot, and four miles later, at a creek crossing, I stopped for half an hour in the shade to collect cold water from the creek.
After the creek, the trail passed alongside Baum Lake (formed from Hat Creek), before leaving the lake to climb up to the ranch. From the creek, the Burney Mountain Guest Ranch was just another three miles ahead, and a quarter mile off-trail. On the way into the ranch, the side trail followed some power lines. Large bird nests were built on top of two of them, though I was too far away to be able to see what was in the nest that was occupied.
Quoi was (as expected) already there. From the water cache, she called Fire Fly, who picked her up, and took her to Old Station. She saw a doctor, who confirmed a tendinitis diagnosis, then went to Burney to pick up some things and went to the Burney Mountain Guest Ranch.
The ranch has a main building which serves as a dining hall and common area, a small store that runs on an honor system, and the “Goat Shed” which has the showers and laundry. For an extremely reasonable fee (that rivals most hostels), PCT hikers can camp, shower, do laundry, use the WiFi, and get one free meal. (Dinner tonight was a taco salad.)
I set up my tent on the dirt inside the parking loop in front of the main building (with another half-dozen hikers, including Quoi), but spent much of the remainder of the day in the main building, which had air conditioning.
Quoi is zeroing here tomorrow to rest her foot (and probably for the next few days until her boyfriend arrives). I’m a bit ambivalent on staying here tomorrow. But, I guess we’ll see in the morning.