Day 95: The Lassen Zoo

July 18, 2017: Hiked Miles 1347.8 to 1367.1 (19.3 total)

I forgot what sleeping in a public campground was like. Now I remember…noisy. The girls in the campsite were giggling and slamming car doors until after 10:30, which is a little annoying when you’re camping in the middle of the woods on a Monday night and quiet hours are 10:00 PM to 6:00 AM. Even with ear plugs I still couldn’t fall asleep. Somehow Colton was konked out through most of it and would just jump a little when a door slammed. I wasn’t even cold but I had to put my beanie on eventually just to drown out some of the noise.

It got a little chilly during the night as Lassen inevitably does, but it was actually refreshing to wake up and need to burrow into my sleeping bag. When we woke up a little after 6:00, our friends we camped with were already gone and the girls’ campsite was a little quieter:

There were some other hikers in another campsite nearby who were awake and talking and laughing and one of the giggling girls from the night before crawled out of her tent at one point in the morning to get something out of her car and scowl at the noise. Maybe she’ll think twice next time about being loud after quiet hours. 

We packed up out tent and I went to get our food out of the bear box and when I pulled out my food I noticed that a hole had been chewed through my trail mix bag and the hole was right where the hole in my food bag is that I got a few days ago.

I’m not sure what got into it, but I think they stole a couple of my peanut m&m’s which I’m not too happy about. But no big deal, I just poured them in a new bag and am hoping whatever it was didn’t have any nasty diseases. Cause I’m not throwing away a whole bag of trail mix. I’m way too hungry for that.

We ate breakfast and hit the trail which started with a good uphill climb which was nice to warm us up and immediately wake our stiff legs up.

We kept passing red tree placards which looked like they had been there awhile. 

Usually we see the PCT placard or the diamond-shaped ones so these must be specific to Lassen Park.

We popped out of Warner Valley after the climb and onto a tree-covered meadow with a mix between live and dead trees.

As we were walking back down the other side of the hill, I heard a noise and looked to my right and could just barely see a brown bear climbing up the ravine below us. I tried to whisper to Colton but he couldn’t hear me, so I quickly caught up to him and stopped him. We turned back and could see her and her cub making their way through the trees behind us. The mom was brown, but the cub was almost black and was tiny. He must have been really young. All the sudden the mom stopped at a tree and practically sprinted up it, 50 feet into the air, while the cub just sat on the ground and watched her. And that is why you never try to outrun a bear up a tree.

We watched a little while longer until we decided we should probably get moving before she caught our scent and came searching. That’s the fourth and fifth bears we have seen on the trail which doubles the number I have ever seen in the wild before starting this hike. Pretty freaking cool.

We made our way down to Lower Twin Lake where we filled up with water since it was our last reliable water source until our campsite tonight. 

And Colton proceeded to soak one shoe in the lake trying to fill up.

I had downloaded some podcasts when we were in Chester so I decided to listen to a few while we were hiking. I don’t want to hike with music or other audio often because I think an important lesson you learn out here is how to survive without distractions and force yourself to deal with all your thoughts and emotions and also to just really experience nature and live in the moment. But I also think that having all this free time is a great opportunity to learn some stuff too which is now possible due to podcasts and books on tape. So I figured I would try it out a bit and see how I liked listening while hiking.

I listened to four TED Talks and the last one was about embracing suffering in order to live fully and not letting death or the prospect of death stop us from living. It’s a great podcast. It’s called What makes life worth living in the face of death, given by Lucy Kalanithi. It was a very moving podcast and when I looked around me and saw what I was hiking through, it seemed so perfect. 

Here I was walking through miles and miles of dead trees, but everywhere I looked there was green grass, beautiful flowers blooming, and more butterflies, birds, and chipmunks than you would see in a zoo. I felt like Cinderella with all the creatures flying past me in the ground and in the air. So in conclusion, I’m glad I downloaded some podcasts although I will probably limit my listening to them to still get the full experience of hiking the trail…and saving my phone’s battery.

We stopped for lunch and what do you know, water! 

Glad we hauled that water all that way for nothing! Oh well, better to have more water than not enough.

We had a relaxing lunch in this grassy meadow, with a view of Lassen Peak behind is. 

Until Colton freaked out when some kind of ferret darted right by our heads. I seriously feel like we’re in a zoo. Except it’s one big cage called Lassen Park. And we’re in it.

The hiking was easy today, so we cruised through it and only had a little over six miles after lunch. Our hiking was pretty much all downhill as we hiked out of Lassen Park and down toward Hat Creek.

We had a couple views of Lassen before we dropped back into the valley.

And passed a couple on horses with their dogs who wanted to know everything we ate on the trail and to talk about the movie Wild. 

The trail cruised through a dark forest for a bit, which had red, white, and blue streamers closelined to random trees for a couple miles. Colton decided he needed one to decorate his bag.

We came across a bullseye.

If you miss this huge target, I don’t know what to tell you.

We ended our day of hiking at Hat Creek and got there by 4:00. We’re gonna have to start hiking more miles in a day if we keep up this pace. We set up camp in a great tentsite right next to the creek.

The creek was flowing well and the water felt so refreshing on our sore feet.

Colton read until he finished his book and then proclaimed, “What am I going to do now?” I suggested he start a journal, but he says that’s only for girls and found another book to read anyways. This guy…

I worked on my blog and stretched a ton. Stretching is key out here. We already hobble around every morning when we wake up. If we didn’t stretch every night, I probably wouldn’t be able to walk some days. I try to stretch at lunch too before I sit down to eat because it makes hiking afterwards so much easier. 

Most of our day is full of hiking, eating, sleeping, or chores. Especially with my blog, I feel like I hardly ever have any actual downtime. So when I do have free time, I don’t really know what to do. Tonight was one of those nights. When I finished stretching all I could, I sat down next to the creek and it was so peaceful so I decided to meditate. I used to meditate often, but it’s one of those things that if you don’t do it every day, you kind of forget the importance of it. But with the creek drowning out all other noise and the sun on my face, it was so easy to take deep breaths, concentrate my thoughts and forget about any distractions. I was in total Zen, until Colton came up behind me and grabbed my shoulder and scared the crap out of me. But then he sat down and we gave each other shoulder massages and basked in the evening sun until our tummies started rumbling. 

We had potatoes and top ramen for dinner and I am soo over top ramen. But I had this idea earlier today that I decided to test out. Usually we boil 1.5 cups of water as per the package directions. But I usually end up letting mine boil longer after I add the ramen because I like it less brothy. So my idea was to only use 1 cup of water and then it would be thicker and hopefully more flavorful. And it worked! It came out almost like pad Thai and tasted so much better! I can still eat top raman!

For dessert we made some hot cocoa and snacked on some of the treats Terry sent us. 

My favorite, peanut butter anything, and Colton’s favorite, gummy bears. You rock, Terry!

Now we’re laying in our tent, excited to get to sleep early and talking about how funny it is that we’re camping so close to home. Colton thinks it’s weird, I think it’s awesome. Hat Creek is gorgeous and I love camping here, even if I could be sleeping in a bed less than an hour away. 

Colton entertained us with his food baby belly.


Food baby:

Probably what he’ll look like in 50 years. 

Tomorrow we hit the infamous dry and hot section of the Hat Creek Rim and get even closer to home and a night in a bed that we have finally earned.  


3 thoughts on “Day 95: The Lassen Zoo

  1. Re belly: 50 years? Try 10.
    Not that you can find them on the road, but I buy “ramen” packages that use rice noodles instead of wheat, And they do make one they call Pad Thai (you have to use your imagination).
    Congrats on coming back to doing something by doing nothing. You may find the word HU (pronounced Hue) useful in contemplation.

    BTW I still vote yours the best PCT blog of 2017. I work in a windowless building and am working 12 hr shifts this summer. I can only dream of long distance hiking at this time. You blog helps fill the gap.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope you get out of your windowless office and get to hike part of the trail someday. Don’t wait forever! Windowless offices will always be there!


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