Day 12: Old Station

PCT Mile 1369.7 to 1385.5

Miles Hiked = 15.8

Most long distance hikers try to hike with the lightest pack possible. But yet we all have different priorities, preferences and needs just like in regular life. Hikers talk about their “base weight” – their pack weight less consumables (food, fuel & water). My base weight is about 14 pounds. I spent a lot of time researching and money investing in what I believe is the best ultralight gear for me – see my gear list for details if you’re interested or curious.

Many, if not most, of the thru hikers that hike 30+ miles per day (like T-Rex & Ritz) have a base weight less than 10 pounds. John, the “senior” hiker that I mentioned a few posts back carries a 60+ pound pack – he’s a photographer and carries a full size digital SLR camera. He also resupplies less often and therefore carries more food than I typically do. To each their own.

One of my strategies to keep my pack weight down is to resupply often (every 3-5 days) rather than carrying more food for longer periods and resupplying less often. I also try to be smart about how much water I carry.

So, even though I had only hiked two full days since my last resupply in Chester, I had mailed a resupply to the Old Station post office (Old Station is a small community just north of Lassen Volcanic National Park). What I didn’t realize, however, is that this post office is only open daily from 11-3.

Last night I had camped alongside Hat Creek and only had about four miles to hike to get to the Old Station post office. As usual, it was a beautiful morning.

The post office is only 0.3 miles off the PCT – I arrived at 8:30am. Luckily, they have a table in the shade with electrical outlets so I was able to hang out and charge all my devices while I waited.

The post office opened right at 11am and I was back on the trail by 11:30.

Another three miles up the trail is a short side trail to a restaurant called JJ’s. It’s had good reviews by hikers. As I hiked along I debated about stopping and having lunch. The thought of a burger finally won out and off the trail I went, once again.


Just north of JJ’s is Subway Cave – a 1000 foot long lava tube cave that is also just 0.2 miles off the PCT. So, no sooner had I finished lunch and hopped back on the trail than I decided to leave the trail again to visit the cave. I’m glad I did – it was interesting and only took forty-five minutes.

After the cave I was back on the trail by 3:15 and I had only hiked maybe seven miles total for the day. I needed to pick up the pace.

Ahead of me was the Hat Creek Rim – an approximately 30 mile long rim or upraising caused by a vertical shift in the earth’s crust hundreds of thousands of years ago. The rim is about 900 feet higher than the valley floor below where Hat Creek actually flows. The PCT runs along the western edge of the rim.

Three miles into my hike up and onto the rim is the Hat Creek Rim Overlook.

Hat Creek Rim
Mt. Lassen to the south
Mt. Shasta to the north

I enjoyed the views from the overlook for a few minutes and then pushed on for another 5.4 miles. The Hat Creek Rim is like a high desert environment in an area with a history of volcanic activity. It is hot and dry and there is a lot of volcanic rocks along the trail.

There are no natural water sources directly on the trail along the rim. There is one spring that is a challenging 0.3 miles and 400 feet drop down on steep switchbacks off the trail. That’s where I was headed tonight – I arrived at the campsites on the rim above the switchbacks a little before 7pm. I quickly set up my tent and then headed down to the spring to collect some water for the evening and the next day. It was a 30 minute round trip.

Down the Switchbacks
Lost Creek

Once I had the water it was a nice place to camp with nice expansive views and a beautiful sunset.

By the way, remember yesterday when I was able to rinse my feet and legs off at my camp at Hat Creek? Well, this is what a days worth of hiking the PCT looks like when you take off your shoes and socks!


On that note, thanks for following!!!

2 thoughts on “Day 12: Old Station

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