Over the last four days Tina hiked 88 (21+21+30+16) miles up into Lassen Volcanic National Park, down to the microscopic town of Old Station, along the hot Hat Creek Rim, past the hamlet of Cassel with its scenic fish hatchery, and then into Burney Falls State Park. After an evening of the usual town chores she got back out on the trail this morning and on an the 83 mile stretch to the trail's crossing if I-5.
It seems that every bit of ground between Lassen and Mount Shasta (often visible in the distance) is volcanic in origin and pretty recently so. There is a great deal of exposed volcanic rock jumble and the trail itself is just a thin layer of fine volcanic dust over rock. The dust kicks up and gets into everything and, as another girl hiker (not Tina!) noted, it "makes for some really interesting boogers" ;-)
But for all the heat and dust, the stretch had relatively little climbing (~7300) and most of that was done on her first day out. In contrast, this next stretch averages 5000' *per* day of climbing and descending.
Tina saw a fair bit of wildlife on this stretch and had her first close bear encounter of this particular trip when she passed very close by a dense thicket with the air filled both with bear smell and very loud bear snoring. She said the experience was near identical to one she had on the AT in 2010 as she passed the mouth of a cave in Connecticut (I think it was). She thought about waking him/her but ultimately decided to leave that for the another day. :)
She also came upon a big rattlesnake that was in the process of consuming a large rodent of some sort. The head was already "down throat" and so Tina wasn't sure what it was but it was bigger than a rat. It of course was very upset with Tina for poking around taking pictures and then we were upset after the fact realizing that she could've gotten a very fine video instead. Oh well, next time.
At another place she was walking along and there was a freshly dead rabbit right in the middle of the trail. I guess they've got to die somewhere but that was a first. In any case, Tina is seeing lots of bear sign. Also, we're hearing about mountain lions but so far they have all turned into cows when people stick their head out of their tents or, as reported by one hiker, are named "Alex" and are vegetarian. ;-)
Then near Cassel Tina spotted some gigantic insects (pictured above). Anyway, as you can tell from that Tina is definitely traveling through wild country! :)
All the best, David
p.s. The Hat Creek Radio Observatory is open to the public now and is staffed once again. Do drop by if you are in the Lassen / Burney Falls / Shasta / Alturas territory. Also, thanks again to their Colby Krabill who spent a couple hours with us last year and a few more hours with me yesterday over an extended breakfast & gossip session (and thanks too for picking up the tab!).