Mile: 1325.5 to 1347.8
up/down: 3250/3050 feet
New trip bird: Gray Jay
Yes, 34 years and more importantly the last three months on the trail without driving each other crazy (too much). Yay!
The geologists can argue over the exact end of the Sierra and start of the Cascades. For the last two days we've hiked in volcanic soil and I'm staring this evening at a volcano that erupted within the last hundred years. That's good enough for me. We will be in the Cascade Range for the rest of the trip and all the major mountains will be volcanoes.
Within 4 miles from camp we had crossed highway 36 and were on our way to Lassen National Park. The first few miles were private working forest that had obviously been logged recently. It was all second or third growth forest but looked like it was being managed well. Seven miles in we came to Stover Spring, an important water source for not only thirsty hikers but also thirsty birds. We took a long break there and watched tanagers, warblers, nuthatches, and many others come and go. It was very fun. At 13 miles we came to the north fork Feather River, now much closer to the headwaters than when we last saw it in Belden a few days ago.
Our newest trip bird barked at us from overhead as we stopped for a moment shortly before the park. Both of us did a double take on the sound and put binoculars on the bird quickly. Gray Jay! We made the park boundary in the early afternoon and took the alternate to Boiling Springs Lake. It was the same mileage as the regular trail but took us past an awesome fuming geothermal lake. Along the way to the lake we had a family group of Black-backed Woodpeckers at close range.
We finished up the day at the Drakesbad Guest Ranch. This small operation inside the park is super hiker friendly with free laundry and showers, and discounted dinner. The food was excellent, enough to fill up the hungry hikers. So we're clean and full, ready to take on what comes next.