Miles: 20.12
Camping: Drakesbad Guest Ranch PCT mile 1353.87

We woke up well rested in our hotel room and enjoyed the continental breakfast before heading out of town. We made good time and were hiking again by 9am. The terrain was really easy, so we had gone 10 miles before we knew it. It seemed a good spot for lunch, right next to the Feather River. Breakfast had filled me up pretty well, so I just snacked for lunch. It was really hot, so even though we had only been 10 miles, I was covered in sweat. This was a great excuse to take a river bath, which almost always hits the spot. The water was shallow and ice cold, so I washed up birdbath style, feeling refreshed enough to hike on.

There were several other hikers we hadn’t seen in a long time, so we felt that we had lost some ground with our extra night in town. Though we had slept long and well, the energy was still not there, and we were lacking in enthusiasm. My feet weren’t hurting, but they didn’t feel great either. I was walking in new gel insoles, and I couldn’t tell if they were an improvement yet. It takes some time to really tell, so we kept moving in hopes of getting in over 20 miles today.

We took a .4 mile round trip detour to the terminal geyser in Lassen National Park,  and it was really cool! There was even a bear off the trail digging up a stump, completely oblivious to us standing and watching it. The geyser itself is not a true geyser, but a perpetual steam vent. Off to the side was a small river that was literally boiling as it rolled down the hill. It was unlike anything I’ve ever seen, and we joked about cooking dinner there.

About a mile and a half later we came across the Boiling Lake. It was a lake that looked like thick green soup, and it burped up random spouts of sulfuric gas. It made gurgling noises, and had a powerful smell to it, though didn’t have the appearance of boiling. The banks around the river were a rich red soil, providing a truly unique scene. We are definitely in new territory here.

The next 2 miles were to Drakesbad Guest Ranch, and my feet were as bad as ever. I was developing hot spots, which seemed impossible, and the balls of my feet were in the most pain to date. Someone once said, “ignore the aches, but not the pains,” and I’m in the arena of pain now. I had ordered shoes in Chester to have sent to Burney and thought I could make the easy 80 mile trip, but humbly learned that would be a poor choice. The number one rule of thru-hiking is to listen to your body and I realized for myself, that means stopping. I decided that tomorrow I will try to get to Burney, and wait for my new shoes there. The support is gone in these shoes, and I would only miss 60 miles of trail, as opposed to the rest if I don’t stop now. It’s a tough decision, but it seems the smartest. This will force me to rest for a couple more days, and the next set of shoes will hopefully offer the needed support. I’m switching brands again, moving to Solomon’s…here’s hoping!

We hiked the half mile into the ranch with Doc and found other hikers already there. They offer dinner at 8pm for hikers, which includes a shower and a swim in their pool. It’s a geothermal pool, not hot, but way warmer than your typical heated pool. We floated for an hour before dinner feeling quite spoiled. It was another very necessary dose of healing. The water was amazing, and we sat around the hiker table ready to chow down on the well reviewed food.

They brought over sliced baguettes and lasagna that was killer. It was a delicious meal, but most of us could have eaten several servings. A couple of guys immediately broke out their stoves and cooked up a second meal, but I didn’t feel I needed to do so. Instead, I walked back with Danger Spoon and Doc to set up camp. It was already after hiker midnight, and though I’m not planning to hike tomorrow, my optimistic side wants to be prepared to if I recover overnight. I set up my tent without the rain fly, and now I’m staring at the stars. I feel a little unhappy to be skipping trail, but I otherwise feel very happy to be here having these amazing experiences. The trail will go on, and I will be there until I either can’t walk or run out of money. Don’t give up on me friends! I’m still determined to beat this foot pain!

Terminal Geyser
Boiling Lake
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