Day 75: Burney Falls

18.1 miles (1407.2 to 1425.3), plus 0.3 from Guest Ranch and 0.5 to/from Burney Falls

In the morning, Marla makes me scrambled eggs and bacon with sides of cantaloupe and parsnip chips. After, I finish packing my things. As I tighten the straps, one of the clips on the top of my backpack breaks. But the clip still holds. What a relief. I don’t want to deal with a broken backpack right now. 

We drive to the guest ranch. I put on my pack and hug Marla goodbye. We’ve only just met, but she seems like an old friend. I walk back to the PCT and continue north. The trail descends gradually through pine and oak and Douglas fir. I cross Highway 299. I cross many dirt roads. My on-again off-again stomach issue is on again. It started the day before yesterday, when I pushed too hard on an empty stomach to reach the trail magic, and it’s been squirrelly since then. After hiking a few miles this morning, I’m not feeling well. I need to find a place to sit and rest. I need to take it easy today: low miles, lots of breaks. 

Ahead, there’s another dirt road. Just beyond the road, I see a few tent canopies. Trail magic? It is. It’s Wild Bird Cache. There’s a picnic table and two coolers of lemonade, a few jars of snacks, a trail register, hand sanitizer, a garbage can, and a box of pens for signing the table. I don’t need any of that, I just need to sit. I’m immediately joined by a French hiker, who sits across the table from me. We browse through the jokes in the trail register. I can’t remember any good jokes, so I just sign my name and hope my nausea goes away. 

The trail is almost perfectly flat, which is good; if I had to do uphill right now, I’d probably cry. I trudge along flat trail through pine and oak. There’s black oak, and there’s also white oak. I wonder if the “blue oak woodland” I saw yesterday was actually white oak. I wasn’t paying close attention to the trees, peering instead at the grasses and forbs. 

I take another break. I eat a bag of trail mix. My stomach doesn’t get any worse. I plod along and eventually reach the fork to Burney Falls State Park. I follow the trail toward the general store, pausing at the overlook for a view of the falls. A trail leads down to the base of the falls, but I’m not feeling up for that right now. Really I just want to sit. 

At the store, I collect my resupply boxes: one filled with food, the other filled with my down jacket. I take the boxes to a picnic table and begin organizing my food. Wow, I sent myself too much food. If my hiker hunger returns, I might barely eat most of this. Now, I can’t even fit it all in my bear can. Good grief. Where am I going to carry all of this food?

A few hikers sit at the next table eating and talking. One is a man I’ve seen several times over the last two days, who’s been hiking out to meet his kids on the trail. The kids are always behind me, so I haven’t met them yet. Now, I finally get the chance. He introduces me to Catalyst and Sancho, and to his wife. 

After a few hours of rest and repacking, I need to get back on the trail. I plan to go slow and maybe do only six more miles. My stomach is not happy. The last two times I had an upset stomach, it passed after one day. Maybe tomorrow I’ll feel better?

On my way back to the trail, I walk by the trail that leads to the base of the falls. I really should go down there and have a look. When will I have this opportunity again? I walk down the paved trail among the other tourists. The temperature drops. Oh, this is nice. I take photos. I meet a couple who asks me where I’m hiking. I tell them about my journey and we chat for awhile before I make my way back up the hill, across the creek, and over to the PCT. 

Burney Falls

Ok, PCT. Ok, stomach. Let’s do this. I walk a slow and steady pace and take one break on the way to Rock Creek, during which I feel well enough to eat a snack. I cross Lake Britton/the Pitt River on a dam. At Rock Creek, I meet Catalyst and Sancho again. They got ahead of me during my detour at the falls. While I soak my feet in the creek, they set out for a campsite a little over three miles away. That’s probably farther than I’ll go tonight. I don’t want to push my finicky body. 

I take off carrying enough water for a dry camp. There’s a campsite not far from the creek, and it’s tempting, but it’s only 6pm. If I stop now, I’ll be sitting around for three hours before dark. My body could use the rest, but my brain can’t do it. It wants to go a little farther. Another mile up the trail, I find a flat spot on what was probably a logging road in an old timber harvest. But it’s only 6:30, and I’m not excited about the site. I keep walking. 

Now I’m going uphill, and will be for the next bunch of miles. The topo doesn’t show any more flat spots. I may have just committed myself to hiking to the next campsite listed in the app. Sure enough, I have to go all the way. There’s nothing resembling a tent site anywhere on this mountain. 

Views open as I climb.

I find Catalyst and Sancho at the campsite eating dinner. I join them. I put on my mosquito net while I eat. Because all of my food doesn’t fit in my bear can, I have to hang some of it. I’m not as worried about bears as I am about rodents, so I don’t do a bear-proof hang. I just latch my stuff sack to a high branch. Tomorrow, everything should fit in the vault and I won’t have to deal with this. 

Near dark, another hiker arrives and decides to camp with us. In my tent, I clean my feet and discover a painful blister between two of my toes. How? Why? Why now? I cut it open, squeeze antibiotic ointment onto it, and cover it with a bandaid. Hopefully tomorrow all will be well.


One thought on “Day 75: Burney Falls

  1. I’m sorry your day has been plagued by stomach issues (no fun at all). On another note, I’m glad you took the time to see beautiful Burney Falls. We were just there, too. You probably made the couple’s day when you told them about your journey.


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