The early start to beat the heat was a good idea but I was sleepy and found it hard to concentrate whilst keeping a fast pace found. I tripped and fell on my face only once, but kicked many rocks and stumbled a lot. Eventually we stopped and made coffee in a field of cows, in order to wake me up a bit. It helped, and I was able to keep a good pace. By 8am the sun was up and already felt hot. I wondered how it was going back to feel at 2pm in the heat of the day, but hoped we would be down off the rim by then.
We made it to Cache 22 (yes!) at 9:15 and took advantage of the shade and chairs to rest and refill our water bottles. I made some oatmeal and ate some snacks and the break was far longer than we had planned. We were in for a hot afternoon.
We did in fact make it off the rim in the afternoon, but we were hiking through open fields of dried grasses and small bushes, which didn’t provide any shelter from the sun. Even stopping for lunch under a tree didn’t really feel any cooler, and I was glad to get to the river by the PG&E plant to cool off. As in the desert, water sources are scarce enough that hikers congregate there, and as we swam and took hiker baths, Giggles and Burgundy, Phil and Hufflepuff, Chickadee and Stonefly, and Felix all showed up.
Later we walked along the creek, which wound round corners leaving lakes which were teeming with birds. I saw swans, geese cormorants and even pelicans all in the same lake.
We had decided that we would hit highway 299 in the early evening and should therefore treat ourselves to an evening meal and a proper bed in the town of Burney, just an 8 mile hitch. We managed to do some laundry, visit Safeway to supplement our food bags, and grab a burger at the Alpine Drive Inn. For some reason my payment card didn’t work, despite it being fine everywhere else, and the server generously offered to give me the meal for free. We ate by some Forest Service firemen who had come down from the Willamette service in Oregon. When asked if there was a fire they were here for, they just said that they were waiting for one. They know that forest fires are inevitable this year.
Camping: Mile 1416, Burney (not camping)