22.6 miles (Miles 1416.7 – 1439.3)
Burney – PCT Mile 1439.3)
Burney Falls has been a PCT destination I’ve been looking forward to since I started obsessing over and researching this trip. I’d seen so many photos, but I knew it would be incredible to see it in person… today I got to do just that.
I started hiking just before 8am, and the first thing I came upon was a really awesome cache called “Wild Bird Cache,” which is kept up and stocked by locals Randy, Kathy and Bandit. When I arrived I was impressed with the chairs, water, trash cans, homemade picnic table that doubles as a fun register, a paper register, snacks, sodas, and a digital camera so we could take a photo of ourselves. As I signed the register, a guy walked up with snacks – it was Randy! It’s always really nice to have the opportunity to thank these kind-hearted people in person! He said he made the picnic table and plans to hang the slats with all of our names on it in his garage at the end of the season. What a cool idea!
After leaving the cache I came out to Hwy 89 where Rocks was frustrated because he’d been there for two hours trying to hitch to Burney with no luck. I was just thinking about texting Aloha when the next car pulled over! He couldn’t believe it – he exclaimed, “you’ve gotta’ be kidding me!” There’s a term used out here for hitching – guys sometimes have a harder time getting rides compared to girls, so if they hitch alongside a girl, they’ll usually get one easier. The girl is referred to as “a ride bride” in this situation. At first I laughed thinking I unintentionally acted as a ride bride, but then saw PCT, AT, and CDT stickers on the driver’s back window – it was just a coincidence. This guy would have pulled over either way – it was a pretty funny scenerio, though. Glad Rocks got his ride!
My next stop was Burney Falls. I took an alternate trail into the park that brings you past the source of the falls. I was completely in awe when I learned that all that water going over the falls comes from a spring just one mile upstream – and I walked right past it! All of a sudden, out of nowhere was a river! I learned how the spring works today, too, which I geekily got really excited about – I’ve been wondering where the water comes from in all these springs we’ve seen! When snow up high melts (Burney mountain in this case), it travels down and seeps into ancient underground water channels. That fills up, then flows to a spot with hard rock and the water basically spills over. 100 million gallons of water pours over Burney Falls each day – from one single spring a mile upstream. Incredible!
I followed the spring river all the way to the top of the falls and to the park entrance where I could take another path down to the base of the falls. As I turned the last corner heading down, I felt the temperature drop pretty drastically, to the point where it actually felt a little chilly. When I crawled out onto the rocks at the pool’s edge, I could feel the fall’s light, cold mist brushing against my face and hands. The sound was a relaxing, steady crash as the wall of water came pouring over into the large teal pool below. There were a couple of thick, huge falls, and those were surrounded by smaller, thinner falls – it really was a wall of falls. Oh! And the mist created a rainbow in the sunlight – that just enhanced the whole picture – it was perfect.
When I got back to the parking lot where the trail to the falls begins, I saw something familiar – the pickle jar! Yay! Aloha was here somewhere! I went over to the info center where a group of us thrus were hanging out, and found out he was in the general store – I met him there and got myself a soda and an ice cream cone. Best break ever! I finally had to get hiking, though. After spending two hours there, I walked in circles trying to find the trail, and then Aloha drove up and pointed me in the right direction. Whew! Across a bridge and back on trail.
The rest of the day’s hike brought me over a huge dam, through some gorgeous forest that made me a little homesick, a great lunch-break river, a super-sketchy water source, and an amazing sunset. I struggled for a couple of hours later today from tiredness. I just wanted to sleep – everything else felt okay. When I blinked my eyes wanted to stay shut, and that’s not good when you’re hiking down a trail! I stopped at 5pm for a break. I ate a bunch of snacks, made a cold coffee, chugged it and trucked on. It wasn’t long before I felt good again. What an absolutely fantastic day!
Tonight I love Laatsch hugs. They are the biggest, most loving, lingering hugs. I miss all my family back home!
Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!