Chester to Burney Mountain Ranch mile 1328 – mile 1407, 80 miles.
After much discussion, many burgers and enough beer to float a battleship in Bishop we decided to jump up to Northern California into the Cascade mountain range at Chester aiming to bypass as much of the Sierra snow (and numerous ways to kill ourselves) as possible. The plan is we will now hike to Canada from Chester hitting Oregon and Washington earlier in the hiker season than normal and benefiting from the better weather in both states. We’ll bounce back to Chester late August and most likely hike south through the Sierras down to Bishop when the bulk of the snow will have melted and there will be much less chance of us coming a cropper in excessively swollen river crossings! That’s the plan for now but as the last few weeks have taught us they could change again.
To get to Chester we hopped on the long distance bus to Reno (5 hours) and intended to catch addition buses to Susanville and then Chester. However a quick calculation showed we could get an Uber from Reno to Chester for only a few dollars more and arrive 4 hours earlier – no contest. We piled into a quaint B&B cottage with three beds resembling something from a fairy tale. Tucked up in our little box beds we looked like a screen shot from goldilocks and the three bears!
Starting our hike again in Chester (I should add that our group has now shrunk back down to 4 – me, Everett and Kathryn plus Ellen who we knew from a previous group – trail name chewy cos she groans every time she sits down.) was a revelation – peaceful pine forests and gentle gradients – just the tonic after the Sierras. It only lasted a day however as the next day we were up at 6,500 feet and in snow fields again. It took us 7 hours to walk 7 miles – ugh! We are still lugging our ice axes and crampons and yet again we needed them.
The mosquitos are also out in force and I seem to be a magnate for them above and beyond anyone else in the group. They even bite me through my clothes and I spend the nights itching and scratching to complete distraction. I’m even scratching as I write this.
As we descend into the volcanic Lassen park the temperatures rise again along with the humidity. Its now 30 plus and rising. The areas is riddle with lava caves, hot springs and gysers – quite spectacular in places.
The compensation for the temperature rise and bugs is that we are now at the Burney Mountain Guest Ranch, an oasis in the mountains with showers, bunk rooms, laundry and a swimming pool. We’ve had a fantastic home cooked dinner and breakfast since arriving. Our aim is to leave at about 2:00 pm for a shorter day hike to the next camp ground about 10 miles away.
Sadly we’ve had to cancel Lyn’s planned trip out here to meet me at South Lake Tahoe – there is just too much snow for our plans to work and logistically its proved to be a nightmare to hook up. We may rearrange for the end of my trip or use the ticket to go to Hawaii instead next year – beach holiday only – no hiking!