Day 100: Caves And Stuff

100. July 19: Mile 1373.98 Campsite to Mile 1394.33 Campsite 
Centennial day! Kinda crazy that I’ve been at this for 100 days now. We didn’t really do anything spectacular to celebrate unless you count stumbling out of bed at a snail’s pace spectacular. The whole morning was pretty slow, actually. We hiked less than a mile before we found a massive sink hole with a small cave at the bottom. For those who don’t know me well, I went to college in rural southern Kentucky about an hour east of Mammoth Cave. My roommate Wes and I used the geologic opportunity to spend most of our undergrad years going caving in the vast cave system in that part of the world. So coming upon a cave was like being a kid in a candy store with every jar having a “free” sign it. I unfortunately did not have the equipment or the time to fully flesh it out and explore it how I would have liked, but it was still totally bad ass. 

We were actually already headed to the Subway Cave, a lava tube that formed when lava filled the valley and hardened on the outside leaving an insulated tube for lava to flow through and leaving today what we walked through. It was so sick. The caverns were massive and the walls smooth. It was unlike anything that I had seen in the hundreds of hours I’ve spent caving in Kentucky. All of the caves there were formed mostly by water carving through limestone with lots of calcium formations such as stalactites and stalagmites. Here, though, it was all formed through volcanic activity so the features and general vibe was much different. 

Due to these excursions we had only done like three miles by 7:30 or so. This left us a bit behind schedule, but it didn’t matter as much because tomorrow we’ll be getting into Burney Mountain Guest Ranch and staying the night there. If we do less miles than we planned today, then we’ll just have to do a few more tomorrow so it won’t really put us behind our goal of doing 25 miles a day. 

We trucked on to lunch after having to hike down a really steep spur trail to get the last reliable water for about 20 miles. This whole area along Hat Creek Rim is more or less the desert. It’s dry with no shade and little water. Fortunately, though, late in the afternoon we came upon several pop up tents and trucks. They had a table full of food and coolers filled with beer and Gatorade for hikers. Much needed trail magic. As if we needed to take more breaks after our slow start, we of course proceeded to sit our happy asses down in a camp chair and chill for an hour. The trail provides. Well, sometimes. Sometimes it just stares at you with a snarky look and flips you the bird, but today, it provided. 

Since we had several stops today we figured it would do us good to hike later than normal so we still have to at the Ranch to rest. We normally hike until 5:00-6:00, but we hiked a little past 7:00 to this awesome campsite over looking the rim with a gorgeous view of Mt. Shasta to the north. The sunset was epic. 

Tomorrow we’ll only have a 13 mile hike to the Guest Ranch so we’ll probably sleep in a little bit before making it there by lunch. For $25 they’ll give you a place to camp, a shower, laundry, a meal, and access to the pool. So don’t be surprised if I spend most of my blog tomorrow writing about defiling the pool with my filthy hiker body and the Ranch having to hire a nuclear fallout cleanup crew to sanitize the pool as a result. 

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