We all woke up as we felt – luckily before the sun started to heat up the tents. We all agreedto take it slowly and first go to get breakfast at the Cravings Cafe. Kristians and I ate like kings – as usual – and then had to go get some more stuff from the supermarket, such as sunscreen. I had been lucky and found a half-full tube of toothpaste from the hikerbox so we didn’t need to buy that.
Last night I had also got new shoes – well, actually used ones that gave T-Bone a blister so he had just received new ones in the mail. I had used my Altras since Bishop and his had only been used since South Lake Tahoe so I figured there’d be more support in them. And as we planned to do the 24 hour challenge in 2 days time then better shoes would come in handy. Additionally I ordered myself new shoes to Castella, so those should arrive on the 29th. And I also called the Sierra City post office and bumped my resupply box (the one that I originally sent to Toulumne Meadows but which went to Yosemite Valley instead, from where I bumped it to South Lake Tahoe and as that didn’t happen in time then on it went to Sierra City, where it was again a day late so we missed it) to Burney…it should be far enough for the box to make it there before we do!
Anyhow, after the store we went back to the church, did some packing and worked on the blog a bit. T-Bone, Tomb Raider and Coconut all left about half an hour before so that there wouldn’t be too many people hitching at once. When we finally dragged ourselves off the chairs and to the road we had to hitch for about 20 minutes before getting a ride, whereas one driver literally flipped us off with both hands?!
But we got a ride with a guy who works for the local logging company so when we got to the trailhead we got a whole lesson on the tree species here: Sugar Pine, Ponderosa Pine, White Fir and Cedar. We finally got hiking at 14:30, after having a chat with two sobo-flipfloppers, Jam and Scorpiom. We also caught up with a local guy who was just out on a dayhike with his dog.
After 3 miles of pretty exposed pine forest with some smaller uphills we caught up with our group by a water source and then discussed that we’d camp already in 6 miles (by the Feather River) due to our late start. We had initially planned to do 14 miles, all the way to the border of the Lassen Volcanic National Park.
After a small break by the water source the trail went a bit deeper into the forest so we had more cover from the hot sun. The terrain wasn’t too hard, albeit still up & down, buf it was a great afternoon for hiking. We crossed many logging roads and after one of those the trail went downhill where you could see remains of a crashed car – very random!
Just an hour more, mainly downhill, and we started to hear the rumbling of the river. As we approached the bridge we could already see Tomb Raider’s bright orange tent and everyone sitting around the campfire. A flipflopping sobo hiker from San Diego, called JD, was also there – he knew Coconut from the desert section of the trail. We set up camp and proceeded to have a great dinner by the fire, with good weather, not too many mosquitoes and very good company.
We tried to wake up already at 5 but were too sleepy so we pushed the snooze button until we needed to pee and had to get up anyway. Our plan for the day was to start early and finish early – to hike 14 miles to the Lower Twin Lake. We wanted to do a trail-nero (a near-zero day on trail) in order to just relax in a beautiful environment and to rest up for the next day’s 24h challenge.
We left the camp before 8, which is a pretty descent accomplishment for us. The trail was up & down, through a calm pine forest that offered plenty of shade as the day got hotter. We reached the first water source (which was the place where we had originally planned to camp the previous night), which also marked the entry into the Lassen Volcanic National Park. Besides the name not much else on trail changed except for a lot of signs everywhere. Off trail, however, a couple of sights worth seeing came along: terminal geysers and a boiling lake. Mt Lassen itself was out of the view due to the tree covers.
We decided to push past the geysers (which, geologically speaking, were not actual geysers) because we wanted to get to camp early. We did, however, check out the boiling lake as it was right next to the trail. It was a pretty big lake, murky bright blue in colour, surrounded by reddish ground. There was a low rumbling noise all around us – the sound of boiling. There was also steam on the surface of the lake – all in all a pretty interesting sight.
We passed a bunch of dayhikers during the next section, probably all hiking to see either the lake or the geysers. We pushed on, however, slowly descending towards the Drakesbad Guest Ranch. Supposedly one could buy a meal there and get free access to the thermal spring pool but as we walked past we saw just a bunch of old people soaking there. So we continued our hike across the Warren meadow, which was very green but also wet. The trail morphed into sections after sections of wood walkways – pretty Kardashian.
After crossing the meadow we walked through the Warren Campground and then hiked up the rocky & exposed ascent up the side of the valley. From the hillside we could also see the might Mt Lassen – a large, steep mountain looming over everything, still mostly covered in pale white snow. It was then already almost noon so when we finally reached a creek we stopped for a break. After some snacking and rest T-Bone caught up with us but we didn’t hang out for long because we still wanted to get to the lake early.
The after-lunch part of the trail encompassed a river crossing (on three fallen trees) and lots of uphill. The highest point of the day took is over a flat area covered in a lot of fallen, craggy trees. It seemed like a war zone but was possibly an area that had been recently burned. We met a family that had spent the night by the Swan lake, which was right before the Twin Lakes, and said that it’s more private than the other lakes.
After pushing for another hour we reached the Swan Lake in the heat of the day and met a group that had bedn camping there, too, but was just leaving. They showed us the location of the nice, private camping spot and we went to check it out. The place was perfect: right by the water, had flat spots for the tent and was not visible from the trail.
But before we set up camp we went swimming! The water temperature was pretty ok in comparison to all the alpine water sources we’d been through before. I even went in with all my clothes to clean them a bit – there was a lot of sunlight & daylight hours left for them to dry.
We spent the rest of the evening simply relaxing, enjoying the warmth & not having to hike. We also had a huge breakfast in preparation for the next day and read a book on my phone – Treadure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson.