Day 15: Belden Town to Humboldt Summit
August 4, 2015
(1284.3 – 1309.5)
I woke up just before sunrise…ate a cliff bar for breakfast and started to head out. I almost forgot the Gatorade I had stuck in the fridge, so I went back to grab that and also forgot that there were still 2 beers left out of last night’s six pack…Seemed like the perfect breakfast for Belden…maybe not the smartest choice before a 5000 foot climb out on the south facing side of this canyon…but must move forward.
About an hour into it, I passed a couple through hikers, Macho Man and DKShush. We joked a little about Belden…had mutual thoughts about the climb ahead of us and ended up leap frogged each other the rest of the day.
This side of the canyon was a pretty hike. Nothing like the dry and exposed south side that I descended yesterday. The trail was under the forest canopy as it follows the Chips Creek drainage. The lower portion had many Black Oaks intermixed in the coniferous forest, didn’t see much poison oak and saw a few nice examples of calycanthus in bloom.
I made it to the top of the canyon 13 miles/4900 elevation gain by noon and got my first glance at Mt. Lassen. Once again, it amazes me that even how distant a land mark appears on the horizon it should only take two or three days to get there.
The afternoon was pretty uneventful as the trail travels north on a relatively level ridgeline towards Humboldt Peak.
The biggest noticeable change is that we are out of the Sierra’s and Into the Cascades. On the Southside of Belden, Bucks Lake Wilderness, seems to be the last of the igneous formations. On the Northside of Belden, the soil and rocks certainly have a volcanic feel to them.
I stopped at Cold Spring to load up on water for the night. I interrupt a young couple embraced in their trail romance and chat for a bit before they jump back on the trail. About 15 minutes later I am back on the trail as well, my goal is to get as far as I can, but most likely will not make it to the next water source which is 8 miles ahead and off trail.
I take a quick side jaunt to the highest point in Butte County…woohoo…very uneventful, lol
It starts to rain in couple more miles and I finally get to use my new rain gear. After getting soaked a few times last year when it rained every day, so far I have been fortunate this year of being thunderstorm free.
I catch up to the PCT couple I met back at the spring as they had stopped and set up a tent to get out of the rain. The landscape was forested with a lot of twig and branch debris on the ground.
The guy was making a fire next to a dead log…Sure, it was raining out but certainly not enough to suppress any fire that would run rampant through this forest if it got out of control. I had to make a comment as I walked by of just saying that this wasn’t the best idea in this place. In return I received a glance that clearly said ‘STFU I don’t have to listen to you’. There are many places on this trail where you see evidence of small fires that broke out and were put out by a water drop or a smoke jumper. Why to people insist that a fire is necessary in a tinder dry forest in August on a third year of drought? One mishap can ruin it for all.
I jump down off my soap box and continue hiking in the rain through some interesting rock formations of Humboldt Peak. I grab some monarda flowers and stuff them into my shirt to help mask some of my hiker stench, and finally reach Humboldt Road at Humboldt Summit just before sundown
Adjacent to the road is a large dirt parking area and on the far end on the edge of the slope was a couple trees and a great spot to throw up my tent. I positioned the door to the north where I could look out towards Lassen and also wake up to a nice sunrise on the mountain.
About 10pm I hear a truck coming up the road and watch the headlights work their way up the grade. About 15 minutes later the truck is on the road right below my tent and he stops, turns off the engine and proceeds to use a spot light out into the forest for the next 15 minutes. My only thought was this guy was out here poaching for something, a little unnerving.
I was awakened around 1am by some twigs snapping outside my tent…as I got my headlight on I was satisfied to know it was only a family of deer mowing its way through my camp.
All in all, not the best sleep tonight and will be one of my last camps so close to a road.