Daily mileage: 25
It was a morning in the forest. The trail slowly made its way over and down to the North Fork of the Feather River and then started back to wending its way through the forest, lots of climbing and crossing of dirt roads.
Officially entered Lassen National Park and it became the land of intersections. Lots of fun stuff here, skipped terminal geyser because it was off trail but boiling springs lake was pretty neat. Plus it required no detour. All of this was great but the real goal was Drakesbad Guest Ranch where we had heard food was half off for hikers and there was a hot spring fed pool. All the rumors are true, and more. At 13 miles into the day I finally could see the ranch from the trail. Of course the trail went in the totally opposite direction and I had to make a silly circle on the road, but that extra half mile is so worth it. Got there and the guys were already in the pool. Took a quick shower (clean hair again!) and hung out in the pool until lunch. Then it was an open salad and sandwich bar. So good, salad with avocados, beets, garbanzo beans, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Man was I happy.
We hung out for a few hours. Chatting with folks and getting in a little down time which is always enjoyable. They even had a laptop with Internet which was nice because we never know when we will get free Internet out here.
Finally hit the road, with 12ish miles to go we couldn't stay forever. The climb out of the valley was hot, but it was fun looking down at the ranch.
The trail managed to surprise me with a real creek crossing.
And then the trail proceeded to follow creek/meadowy areas and the mosquitoes started to appear.
Breaks were trickier with the bugs and after the guys accidentally skipped our last water source until tomorrow I took off ahead while they grabbed water off trail. I caved and put on the headnet and pants for my own sanity and made quick work of the remaining miles. There is something very wrong about being in an 11 mile dry stretch that is completely overrun with mosquitoes. How far do those crazy things range? Camped in an old burn with a super full moon overhead.
Tomorrow is Old Station, a small town that I can at least hope will have some produce. Even though I got my salad today doesn't mean a watermelon and some yogurt wouldn't be pretty sweet tomorrow.
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