Our time in Chester was spent hanging out at church. This is because the Lutheran church in town offered free camping for PCT hikers. It was just as well, as all the hotels were sold out. It was at this point we realised we hadn’t slept in a bed for two weeks and probably wouldn’t for another two. On the plus side Joal found a blow up pillow in the hiker box so should be sleeping a little more comfortable from now on.
A hiker box by the way is a box normally put out at a hiker hangout that has stuff other hikers don’t want. This could be excess food or for situations where you don’t want to carry out all of what you bought. For example toilet paper only comes in packs of 4 or more so if a hiker buys this he will donate the excess. People also get rid of unwanted gear to lighten their packs.
The church also had a set of clippers so Joal took this opportunity to cut his hair again. This time Kaleb was the cutter and he decided to go as short as it could go. The comments we’ve had on this haircut have been… mixed but it does save us a job in another town.
On the way out of town we got a lift from a pastor to the trail head. We then did a short 10 miles to a river, where we camped and had hobo showers in the river. From here we entered Lassen Volcanic National Park. Mount Lassen is a volcano in the park which you can see most of the time you are hiking and it’s striking in comparison to the smaller hills out here. There is also a variety of geothermal activity in the park. As we crossed the park boundary we took a short detour to see Terminal Geyser. This was an impressive bubbling and smoking sight, although it smelt like boiled eggs.
The geothermal park also meant the lakes we passed were warm. We found our favourite lake on trail so far here, under the shadows of Mount Lassen, where we relaxed and sunbathed after a refreshing swim.
From here the temperature really started to rise into the triple digits (c. 40 degrees C)One part of this is because we have now dropped to a lower elevation but also because the terrain is becoming more exposed. It was therefore a welcome relief when we visited Subway Cave. This cave was hollowed out by lava tubes and was a cool 8 degrees and pitch black. It was also possible to walk all the way through to the other side half a mile away. We had our snack break here before one of our most brutal parts of the hike heat wise.
On the hottest part we were very thankful for a cooler full of cola and oranges. A few miles on we even met Coppertone, the trail angel who lives in his van again. It was then a smooth downhill past a lake into Burney where we got a hitch from the trail to a church.
This church was awesome as they let us sleep in their gym, use their WiFi and have a shower. We rested up here before we hit the trail again the next morning.