Still a long way to go
Seeing Mt. Shasta crest the horizon was a very refreshing sight. Now that we are out of the High Sierra the familiar aspects of the desert are slowly returning. From 100 trail miles away the snowy volcano dominates the landscape.
Mt. Shasta 14,163 ft.
I drank my last liter of water and pushed on over Hat Creek Rim- a 26 mile exposed waterless stretch- the acrid sun oppressed. I kept a keen eye on the cumulus clouds boiling to the south, we had been warned about lightening on this leg and heard many stories of hikers caught in storms on the ridge. The day passes without incident and we camped near a small water cache on the trail as the ridge drops off into the valley. The next morning around 10:00am the clouds begin to rise over the rim and the first bolts of lightening are seen in the distance. I watched carefully and kept hiking with memories flashing back in my mind to Sonora Pass when Charmin and I got caught in a electrical storm on the red volcanic rock of the north ridges, but back to reality: I checked our position against the darkest clouds and stopped to look back up at the knife edge of the rim just in time to see it getting hammered by massive bolts of lightening. I knew there were other hikers up there on that section of trail, I could only hope they were ok. Being caught in lightening is a very helpless feeling, the sensation of the static charge crawling over your skin reminds you that every moment you are alive is amazing. It can also make you wonder why you may have decided to go on a ridiculously long walk through the mountains in the first place. It's good to have a solid answer for that question, even if it can't necessarily be expressed in words. For me though, I'm still having fun.
Shasta at sunset from Hat Creek RimI'm taking my second day off in 800 miles here in Mt. Shasta, visiting Casey, Kyle, the gnomes that live on the mountain and reworking the contents of my pack a bit. The past few days have felt pretty good with 25-30 miles average, but shedding a few pounds off my total pack weight would be the key to sustainable movement at this rate. Pretty soon I'll be in Oregon! Wow!
Mt. Shasta, Ca