PCT Day 84 – Thursday July 6
Warner Valley Campground Mile 1347.7 to Chester Mile 1328.8
PCT Miles Hiked Today: 18.9
Total PCT Miles Hiked: 978
Feet Ascended Today: 2676
Feet Descended Today: 3288
Current Elevation: 4532
When I awoke this morning, I decided to hike into Chester and get a hotel room. Our group planned to hike most of the way to town and camp on the trail tonight so as to avoid the cost of a hotel, but I wanted a real bed tonight. My backup sleeping pad hasn’t been working out well for me and I haven’t been sleeping well. I decided it was time to treat myself!
So, I was on a mission today. I was the first to break camp and hiked out of Warner Valley Campground through the little valley towards Drakesbad Guest Ranch. The facility features a pool with water heated by the nearby hot springs. As I hiked by, I walked over some of the hot springs which flowed over the trail and wisps of steam rose into the cool morning air.
A little ways further, I hiked by Boiling Springs Lake. I wasn’t able to get very close, but I could see steam rising from the lake in giant clouds. A few more miles down the trail, I followed a side path to Terminal Geyser. A plume of steam rose into the air in a giant column and hot water flowed from the resultant stream.
Around mid-morning, I hiked out of the boundary of Lassen National Park and entered into Lassen National Forest. Our group stopped for lunch at a nice shady spot next to a wooden pedestrian bridge over the North Fork of the Feather River. I washed my socks and put them out on a rock to dry, but didn’t stay long. I was on a mission!
About 6 miles from town, I came to a ridge with cell reception and made a reservation at the Antlers Motel. I got their last room! A whole king-sized bed just for me. Yay!
I raced the last miles to Highway 36, wondering how long it would take to get a hitch into town. When I arrived at the road, my hopes fell. There was a crew doing road construction on the exact stretch of road where the PCT crosses the highway. No traffic went by at all. I realized that the road construction crew must have stopped all the traffic. Ruh roh. I walked to a shady spot on the side of the road and waited. About 10 minutes later, a steam of traffic slowly drove by following a pilot car heading towards Chester. I stuck out my thumb half-heartedly, not expecting anyone to exit the line in order to pick me up. Thankfully, I was wrong. A man driving an SUV pulled over and gave me a ride into town.
I checked into Antlers Motel (self-described as “The Cutest Little Thing in Chester”) and chatted with the proprietor for a bit. He was happy to recommend restaurants in town and walked with me out to the street to point them out. I asked about the Kopper Kettle located across the street. He described it as serving diner food, similar to what you would get at Denny’s.
“Now if you want a good breakfast, what you want to do is to go to Cravings,” he said, indicating the building next door. “Their food is more – well…” he said, struggling to find the words. “Let me put it to you this way. At Kopper Kettle, when you order biscuits and gravy, you just get a plate of biscuits and gravy. But at Cravings, they put green onions on top.” He looked at me meaningfully.
“Oh, I see,” I said, not fully understanding. But I was intrigued and filed it away for breakfast tomorrow morning.
I ended up walking down the street to the Burger Depot and having a tasty burger for dinner. They have a toppings bar where you can add your own condiments. The owner was quick to point out that it was not an “all-you-can-eat” toppings bar, but when he wasn’t looking I put 5 dill pickles onto my plate. Mmmmmmm!!! I LOVE DILL PICKLES!
I walked across the street to the Pine Shack Frosty and ordered a small shake. We’ve been hearing about these shakes for a few days from northbound hikers – they have a jumbo shake for $7 but I was too full from dinner and went with a small chocolate cherry shake. Yum!
I spent the rest of the evening taking a bath (I was so dirty I had to refill the bathtub 3 times) and watching Murder She Wrote on TV. Ahhh. Oh the luxury of having a room all to myself!