The trail from Belden to Old Station turned out to be a little disappointing from a scenery standpoint, so it’s been nice having Germinator along to chat with. His trail name suits him well as Germinator is somewhat an expert at identifying edible herbs on the trail. It is not unusual for me to turn around and see him munching on some species of mint or plantain leaf. A few days ago Germinator shouted with glee and stooped down by the trailside. I quickly halted and turned, expecting Germinator to hoist a dropped can of soda or a $100 bill. Instead, it was some green leafy plant which Germinator stuffed in his pack. My brain, of course, registered it as “stupid weed,” and I trudged on. Germinator also happens to be a raw foods enthusiast and we had a long discussion, one evening, about the merits and drawbacks of cooking food. Claiming that studies have shown wild wolves picking raw meat over cooked when given a a choice, Germinator believes raw is the way to go for a happy, healthful life. I think if the wolf had a better brain, thumbs, and access to a little garlic and BBQ sauce, he’d jump all over that cooked meat…and I’ll take my bacon extra crispy, thanks.
The trail has begun semi-circling the Lassen volcano, its impressive snowcap poking through the trees every now and then. The trail itself, however, has lost a substantial amount of altitude and thus the desert heat is back, along with dusty trail and waterless stretches. Northern California in the middle of summer really feels like Southern California in spring. Thankfully there are more trees.
Probably the biggest highlight of the section has been an evening stop at the Drakesbad Guest Ranch. It’s a family vacation spot in Lassen National Park that reminded me a lot of Goose Cove Lodge in Maine, where my family used to go when I was younger. At Drakesbad, there’s a nice hot springs pool and hikers can stop in for a gourmet meal. Germinator, Ladybug, 30-30 and I enjoyed salmon, veggies in a phyllo shell, and raspberry parfait. Covered in dust, we most certainly stood out from the other guests, especially when we all started taking pictures of our food.
I spent yesterday at the home of Dennis and Georgi Heitman in Old Station. It was a nice spot to eat, relax and catch up with other hikers. I also got to hear about the nasty hot, exposed 30 miles ahead of me along the Hat Creek Rim. H.C.R. is essentially trail routed along the edge of a plateau and offers no water save for the Heitmans’ cache on Road 22 (“Cache 22”). Once I’ve finished this BBQ sandwich and Sierra Nevada, that’s where I’m headed.
Oh yes: My wallet and meter are on their way back to me…finally!