Hat Creek Rim

I love Hat Creek Rim.

Many who have hiked the PCT would think I am crazy.

Hat Creek Rim is a 29 mile dry section of trail (no natural water sources, part of it has burned) The rim has a lot of sage, manzanita and scrub oak. Northern California can be hot. High desert country.

It reminded me of home country.

We started at 11 am.  (We had met one person who said he started this stretch at 4 am and wished he had started earlier). We gave this advice due consideration, and continued our hike Team No Hurries style.

The night before, after arriving at Old Station at last, trail angel, Firefly, took us in and we got to sleep in her tree house.  We enjoyed listening to her stories and finally got ourselves back to the trail mid morning.

Excited to hike again after our 3 day fire detour.

We had a cool day to hike. A break in the hot weather.

Views of Mt Shasta surrounded in smoke, behind us Mt Lassen with one plume of smoke, and further off a wall of smoke from the Chips Fire.  Between us and all the smoke, it was clear and stunning.

Walking on a rim, a ledge formed by lava.

It reminded me of times I’ve spent in Smith Rocks and the high desert country of Southern Oregon.  Places I rambled in and used to call home.  Hiking Hat Creek Rim, I finally felt like I had walked home (or to one of the places I call home).

We ate lasagna for dinner from my Grandma’s latest care package and watched a blood red sun set behind Shasta and the smoke.

An almost full moon rose, and we continued our hike a few miles into the night, watching orange flames glow to the West of Shasta. That must be too close to be the Seiad fire. (We’d have to wait til we got to the next town to find out what fire we were watching.)

Seventeen miles in, we reach Cache 22.  A very thoughtful water cache.  We sleep under the canopy of branches at the cache and listen warily as critters crawl through the branches all night.

A beautiful high desert night.  The only thing missing is the yipping of a coyote. (We think they must be busy at the nearest fire.  BBQ for dinner.)

Story writing in the cache log book. Another late morning.  We drop off the rim and walk across a lava mesa.  Tall grass and many oaks.  It looks like what I imagine the African Sahara to look like.  I thought perhaps we might see a zebra or a lion.  But as usual, just more chipmunks.

The lava bed ends, and we drop off another ridge down to something unexpected. A wetlands! A river running into wetlands, pelicans and great blue herons, and a patch of blackberries!

It’s hard to describe just how incredible those two days hiking Hat Creek Rim were. I was in awe at most of what I saw. Hiking with a big grin.  I really am in Northern California now!

It is, perhaps, one of my favorite stretches of trail, and I thank the weather gods for their generosity that day to help me enjoy Hat Creek Rim so much.  It is amazing how a few degrees difference in temperature can make the world appear to be either a beautiful or dreadful place.

It was beautiful.

About Natalie

Natalie Fisher is a dancer, teacher, silk aerialist, and choreographer. She is inspired by the wilderness. Her work involves finding the seam where her worlds of dance, aerials and the wilderness meet.

2 thoughts on “Hat Creek Rim

  1. Natalie, I so enjoy reading all your posts and do hope you consider compiling them into a book. What an awesome summer you have had with your Dad (and Ashley for the first while). You are doing what many people only dream or read about. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences! I am equally impressed with your Grandma’s care packages! How sweet and thoughtful is that?! Go, Grandma!!! I think often about doing a care package, but time has just not allowed. Any spare time I glean is spent taking care of my dear Great Dane! Thinking about you a lot though and praying for your safety, both you and your Papa! Love, Auntie Jo

  2. hey nat,

    i also did not find hat creek rim nearly as bad as people described it, but i left early in the am to tackle it. did not find nearly the beauty you did, however, as there were lots and lots of cows and what they bring with them as i recall. your description makes me want to hike it all over again. firefly’s house was one of my best zeros, camped by the little creek in her yard. keep on keeping on!

    socks from zambia

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