Category Archives: Pacific Crest Trail

Happy Feet and the Hissing Bear

 

Gargoyle, Happy Feet, Cheerie, and Whistler

Happy Feet was hiking the Pacific Crest Trail through Kings Canyon National Park. He came upon two other hikers who had stopped to eat by the side of the trail. They told him to be aware that there was a bear by the trail a little further ahead.

Sure enough there was a bear, a very big brown-colored California black bear. The bear was a safe distance off to the right of the trail and appeared to be foraging for food. After observing it for a while, Happy Feet went on his way.

Some time later, he stopped for food. He took some supplies out of his pack and enjoyed a brief meal, then repacked. Before starting on his way again, he pulled out his cell phone to see if he could check his GPS location.

As he did so, he heard a hissing sound behind him. When he turned, he saw the bear he had seen earlier moving toward him hissing loudly.

Happy Feet was startled. He jumped up, grabbed his hiking poles and started clanking them together, waving his arms and yelling at the bear.

The bear stopped. He was only about 12 feet away.

Happy Feet backed off continuing to clack his poles together and make noise.

The bear just stood there. Happy Feet continued to back off.

After he had put some distance between himself and the bear, the bear walked to where Happy Feet had eaten his snack and sniffed around to see if there were any food.

Seeing that the bear no longer seemed interested in him and did not appear to be aggressive, Happy Feet continued on his way.

According to the North American Bear Center, “Bears blow and clack their teeth with they are afraid. When this is done in response to being startled by a person, it appears to be a defensive threat, but they also do it when they scare themselves by almost falling from a tree.”

The NABC website also says, “Apprehensive expressions are forceful expulsions of air accompanied by threatening body language and sometimes deeper throaty sounds.  This explosive behavior looks and sounds very threatening but is harmless bluster from nervous bears…”

So when the bear came upon Happy Feet, he was probably just as startled as Happy Feet. Once a safe distance was established and things quieted down, both went on about their business.

I met Happy Feet at the Word of Life Assembly of God Church in Burney. He and three other hikers had slept the night before in the WOLA gym and then attended Sunday morning service. After the service, I took a picture of the four of them and Happy Feet told me his bear story.

Happy Feet’s name off the trail is Phillip Hennessy. He hails from Yorktown, Virginia and left Campo on March 14. Asked why he was hiking the trail he said, “We hike to reconnect with nature, to reconnect with people, to reconnect with ourselves and the simple values of a healthy lifestyle.”

Happy Feet has spent much of the hike together with Ben Ferguson “Gargoyle” from New Hampshire who began his hike on March 16. They usually camp together. They were surprised when I said that several other hikers I had talked with had seen no bear. They have seen four bears, most recently one near Quincy.

Happy Feet and Gargoyle were excited to hear that I had met Hardcore the day before. They had hiked with her south of the Sierras but had not seen her for some time. I told them that she had gone to Redding and they may well meet her soon coming the opposite direction because she was going to hitch to Weed and then hike south.

Gargoyle said that he was hiking the PCT “to see the world, to meet new people every day, to see the nature and the many towns, communities and cultures we pass through. Also to challenge myself physically and mentally.”

One of the other hikers was Lea Bravin “Cheerio” from the German speaking part of Switzerland. She had met Happy Feet at the beginning of her hike in Southern California and reconnected with him and Gargoyle at intervals along the trail. They just happened to meet again here in Burney.

The fourth hiker was a young gentleman named Nicholas Turney from Seattle Washington. He began his hike from Campo on May 14 so he has been hiking a bit faster pace. His trail name is “Whistler.” You may hear him in the next few days if you are in the woods near the PCT.

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Owl and Hardcore become friends in Burney

Wow! I feel terrible. I just met two delightful PCT hikers at the McDonald’s in Burney. I took a picture of them, but then I came home and accidentally deleted the picture.

I usually only post a PCT article when I have a picture but in this case I will make an exception because I told them that an article would be posted and I don’t want to disappoint them. The two ladies we met who are hiking the PCT are Alison Blair “Owl” from Brisbane, Australia and Josie Chen “Hardcore” from Taipei, Taiwan.

My wife Linda was hot and tired from doing a yard sale so we went to the air-conditioned McDonald’s for parfaits. As we were going to our seats we saw Hardcore and asked her if she were hiking the PCT. She said that she was and then we were joined by her new friend Owl.

They had just met here in Burney. Hiking the hot stretch along Hat Creek Ridge, she had been feeling a deep loneliness. Previously, she had hiked the entire Appalachian Trail and she had never felt lonely like this. She had never felt anything like it in her life.

She didn’t mind hiking alone. She would see friendly people on the trail, but the conversation generally consisted of “Hi!” Hardcore felt a longing for deeper communion. She decided to come into Burney.

Here she met a new bright and cheerful friend. Hardcore had met a woman who offered her a ride into Redding. Owl wanted to go into Redding, so they connected.

There’s an old saying, “Friends are born not made.” Some people you meet and the resonance is there. You feel that you are meant to meet. Linda and I felt the joyful bond between them.

About her PCT experience, Hardcore said, “The trail provides.”

Owl said, “It’s good to say you are strong, but to be strong and measure it once in your life is a good thing.” Owl is wise.

Linda had an uplifting short conversation with Owl as I talked with Hardcore. Hardcore pointed a finger upward and said, “Now I know why He guided me to come into this town.”

They were planning to go to Redding tonight and then Hardcore intended to hitch a ride to Weed and hike back south to Burney.

Because Hardcore had testified to her faith and gratitude, when the time came for farewells, I asked Owl if it was okay if I said a prayer. She said, “Sure!”

So I thanked God that He had brought us all together, people from three distant countries who were able to feel the love that can unite us all. I prayed that God could guide them and bless them on their journey. And we prayed for world peace, racial and religious harmony and that we could create a culture of true love where children can grow up in a good environment.

Then we hugged each other and said, “Good bye.”

Sorry I lost the image, but I hope you get the picture.

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“Too Fast” racks up miles and smiles

Adam “Too Fast” Slobatian

Adam Slobadian from Bozeman Montana is a fast hiker. His trail name is “Too Fast,” but he doesn’t really hike too fast, just faster and longer each day than the average hiker.

Adam averages between 35-40+ miles per day on the Pacific Crest Trail. He left Campo near the Mexican border on May 15th and he expects to reach Canada by mid August. Wow! A 2600 mile hike through rugged terrain in 3 months!

Adam had been wearing his Altra Timp hiking shoes for 720 miles by the time he got to Burney. He wore down soles and the cushions so it was time for a new pair.

Before reaching Burney he checked one of the PCT apps on which people record their experiences and recommendations for PCT friendly stops. He saw that the Word of Life Assembly of God Church welcomes hikers. PCT hikers can sleep overnight in the gym. Kathy Newton is very hospitable and helpful, and church members provide trail magic. He also read that they receive and hold packages for PCT hikers.

So Adam ordered a new pair of Altra shoes online and had them shipped to WOLA. He hiked the stretch along Hat Creek Ridge on July 2. Coming down to Baum Lake, he pulled out his cell phone to check reception when he was suddenly called back to attention by a rattlesnake.

“Hey Buddy! Pay attention to the trail!” the snake rattled.

Adam spent the night at Burney Mountain Guest Ranch, and on the morning of July 3, hiked down to 299 to hitch a ride into Burney. The third car that came pulled over. Inside was Rev. Ken Frazier, pastor of WOLA, who was on his way to the church.

I met Adam in the coffee shop as he was waiting for his shoes. If the shoes arrived early enough he was planning to head back out on the trail. If they didn’t come until late afternoon or early evening he planned to spend the night at the church.

Adam is 32 years old. He grew up in upstate New York in a town near Binghamton. He attended the University of Vermont where he studied philosophy and art. During that time, he spent a lot of time hiking the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

When he received his degree in 2009, the economy was still suffering. Adam read about Bozeman and decided to head West to see what the Rocky Mountains were like. For the first three months, he lived in a tent. His found a job as a dispatcher for a towing company. Then he was hired by a firm that trains professional accountants where he has worked successfully for the past 7 years.

Living in the East, Adam had wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail. Living in Bozeman, he decided instead to try the PCT. He applied to his boss for leave explaining ways in which his absence would actually benefit the development of the company.

His boss said, “Sure, take six months off and enjoy yourself. We’ll see you when you get back.”

Because Adam is “Two Fast,” he hikes the trail mostly alone. Most hikers average 20 to 25 miles a day. When he has told some of the hikers the pace he sets, several have asked to join him thinking that it would increase their pace. It did, but after a few hours they would drop behind wanting to rest or linger for a while someplace along the trail.

For many hikers, “It’s the miles not the smiles.” For Adam it’s the miles and the smiles.

“The Pacific Crest Trail has been an amazing experience with incredible scenery and extremely generous and kind people that I will remember for a long time,” Adam said.

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Weaver and Avocado on the PCT

When my daughter Hana Lyn, who is visiting from Maryland, found out that there is a lady in Burney who sells Mary Kay, she was so happy. She had run out of foundation. So Linda messaged Bobbi Frazier and we arranged to meet at 11 a.m. on Tuesday at the Word of Live Assembly of God (WOLA) for resupply.

When we arrived, the WOLA coffee shop and lobby were buzzing with activity. Bobbi was there and so also were two members of a 4K for Cancer Team running from San Francisco to New York. So while Hana Lyn transacted with Bobbik and got a latte, I spoke briefly with one of the team leaders for the 4K Run, Cheyenne Greenside. Kathy Newton who was organizing hospitality for the runners during their rest stop in Burney, told me that they would be having a barbecue at WOLA that evening and invited me to come take pictures for an article. (See 4K Runners Grateful for Burney Hospitality).

Bon preparing a drink for Weaver at the coffee shop

In the meantime, I noticed several PCT hikers in the coffee shop. Five more hikers were enjoying the hospitality of WOLA. Two of them were heading back to the trail that day and three of them were planning to rest, resupply, and stay for the night.

I managed to chat with the two who were planning to trek on that day.

Rebekah Archer is a charming, thoughtful young lady from Melbourne Australia who is flip-flopping (skip-hiking) the trail. Her trail name is Weaver. She began solo hiking in Campo on April 9. As she hiked through the Southern California desert she made several friends with whom she hiked. Rebekah said she saw a lot of rattlesnakes in the south.

When they reached Lone Pine (Mile 788.8), she chose to skip the Sierras and hike north from Chester. Hiking from Chester to Burney she has seen a lot of deer but no bear yet. I told her she may well see one in this area.

After she passes through the Northern Cascades to Canada she plans to return and hike south through the high Sierras after the snow has melted.

In the midst of her journey north, Rebekah will take two weeks off from the trail to spend time with friends from Australia who are coming for a two week visit in San Francisco. Then she will rejoin the hikers she met earlier in the desert and hike to Canada with them. Rebekah has planned her hike so she can enjoy, the “best of all worlds.”

Avocado from Frankfurt Germany

The second PCT hiker I talked with in the coffee shop was a young thru-hiker from Frankfurt Germany. His trail name is Avocado. He started from Campo on March 28. This is the first time that he has done such a long hike. He has hiked the mountains of Europe but never longer than two weeks.

Avocado said that what impresses him about the PCT is the “diversity of beauty full of extreme contrast” that he has experienced on his journey through the desert, the High Sierras, the Southern Cascades, Hat Creek Ridge, and then descending into the forests of Burney Basin. He is looking forward to seeing Burney Falls, and then passing through Mt. Shasta, into the forests of Oregon and the Northern Cascades in Washington.

Just before leaving Germany for his adventure, Avocado completed his undergraduate degree in sociology from Frankfurt University. As he is walking north through the wilderness, he is pondering whether he should continue his studies or begin his career.

From the point of view of a sociologist, Avocado said that the PCT culture is a “tiny special society.” It is international. There are people of all ages and backgrounds making the journey for varied reasons. There are day hikers, section hikers, through hikers, and hip hoppers. Trail angels support and encourage the hikers and businesses in small rural towns cater to their needs. Rugged outdoor adventure interfaces with hi-tech social media and special PCT apps to facilitate the journey. There is a fluid blending of individualism and group formation that enriches the PCT family. Avacado said that he may write a short paper on it in the future.

He said that he met only one person hiking through the snow in the Sierras without a cell phone. Avocado considers his phone to be not just a means of communication but a safety device insuring location and rescue in case of mishap in a treacherous area.

Weaver relaxes at Burney Falls Park

After talking with Avocado, Hana Lyn, my wife Linda, and I headed to Burney Falls to hike the Loop. While there, we ran into Weaver again, sitting at a picnic table writing in her journal. She was planning to have an ice cream before visiting the falls and heading north.

Hana Lyn, with her new Mary Kay foundation, had several opportunities to snap selfies by the falls and on the bridge over Burney Creek.

 

Hana Lyn by the lynn at Burney Falls

Selfie on the bridge over Burney Creek

Ah! The best of all worlds!

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Vince Wall encourages the Burney Chamber to help make Burney a “PCT Friendly” town

Vince Wall spoke to the Burney Chamber of Commerce on November 14 at Gepetto’s Pizza about the benefits of serving Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) hikers during the summer.

Vince Wall talks about PCT at Burney Chamber of Commerce

Wall worked with CAL FIRE for 30 years. He moved to Burney in 1997. Wall’s daughter Jenn and her boyfriend, Colton, hiked the trail this year. They began at the Mexican border April 15 and Jenn kept a 167 day blog of her journey called Jenn Hikes PCT.

The PCT extends  2,659 miles from the Mexican Border to Canada passing through the Southern California desert, the Sierras, and the Cascade Mountains. The trail crosses Highway 299 six miles west of Burney and also goes through McArthur Burney Falls State Park.

People who hike the whole trail are called thru-hikers. Most of them begin at Campo by the Mexican Border and hike north. Last year 4000 PCT permits were issued. In additions there are many day hikers and section hikers. The bulk of PCT hikers pass through the Intermountain Area in June and July. That means that thousands of hikers pass within 6 miles of Burney each year.

Wall explained that the PCT hike has become a social media event. The hikers and support organizations share information via cell phones and tablets as they traverse the trail. Life on the trail is simple, the hikers seek to maintain a steady pace of miles each day. They try to keep their packs light.

When they pass towns, they need to shower, resupply, eat, socialize and seek recreation. They pick up and ship packages at the post office and patronize markets, stores, restaurants and movie theatres. The also may need medical and dental services and sometimes they will rent motel rooms and take a break.

Though social media hikers share experiences and tell one another which towns are PCT friendly, where the best restaurants are, where they can get good camping sites, which businesses give discounts. where there are special events such as fireworks, etc.

Certain locations become “must see.” It is part of the trail culture. If you don’t go to a must see location you missed out.

Wall showed slides from Jenn’s journey picturing towns, restaurants, and lodging that have catered to the PCT hikers. The pictures showed restaurants. bakeries and taverns packed with PCT hikers. Some small towns provide shuttle services from the trail to town.  PCT friendly towns post small billboards advertising their service. Organizations and trail angels pitch in to provide “trail magic.”

Wall wants Burney to become better known as a PCT friendly town. Burney is ideally located just about half-way on the trail. Thousands of hikers pass through during the peak summer months after crossing the hot Hat Creek Ridge. Wall wants to organize a committee made up of representatives from the Chamber, Rotary, and other service organizations to explore ways to enhance services for PCT hikers in a way that would benefit both hikers and the town.

In other business:

Jen Luck shared that this year’s Fall Fling had netted over $17,000.

Advertising opportunities for Chamber members and membership options were discussed.

The County has allocated $10,000 from the Occupancy Tax for grants for projects that will benefit tourism in the Intermountain Area. Deadline for application is December 1.

The Chamber is also exploring the idea of organizing a Blue Grass Festival if an appropriate location with necessary amenities is located.

Catherine Camp encourage people to participate in North State Giving Tuesday (www.northestategives.org).

It was announced that Jen Luck will resign as Burney Chamber Office Manager effective December 31, 2017.

For more information call Burney Chamber of Commerce 530-335-2111.

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Songbird, Phoenix, Pickles, and Trail Families

“The number one rule of the PCT,” Songbird assured me, “is ‘hike your own hike.'”

He went on to explain, however, that hikers do form friendly “trail families.”

“When you meet other hikers on the trail with whom your goals align, it is wonderful to trek together because shared memories are deeper and richer than solo memories. Be the best friend you can, stay fluid and flexible,” he said, “but don’t generate expectations.”

Songbird is from Tukerton, New Jersey and has been hiking north on the Pacific Crest Trail for more than three months. I met him in the parking lot of the Dollar General along with three members of his PCT trail family: Phoenix from Santa Cruz; Pickles from Philadelphia; and Whoopie from San Jose.

Songbird, Whoopie, Phoenix, MIssy Lyons, and Pickles

I had brought my wife Linda to the store to buy a few items. I didn’t see the hikers at first, because a car was blocking my view, but when the car pulled out, there were two sitting on the curb by their packs chatting.

Then Missy Lyons drove up into the empty parking spot between me and the hikers. She said “hi” as she got out and immediately went over and began cheerfully asking them questions.

They told her that they were thru hikers, had hiked about 1400 miles from the Mexican border, and were on their way to Canada. When they began to ask some questions about local trail conditions and places to stay, she said, “That man over there knows a lot about …”

So I figured that was my cue and went out to meet them. I mentioned the Burney Mountain Guest Ranch, which they had passed, Burney Lodging, and camping at Burney Falls Park. They actually were anxious to get a few more miles in before dark so I asked them if they would like a ride. They said they would appreciate a ride out to the trail head. As we talked two more hikers came out of the store.

Songbird, Phoenix, and Pickles wanted a ride to the trailhead. Whoopie from San Jose decided that he wanted to stay in town for awhile and take in a meal at McDonald’s. Phoenix still had shopping to do, so the trio told me they would wait for me at the Dollar General while I took Linda home to unload our own “resupply.”

When I returned, Phoenix was still shopping so I sat down and we passed the time in conversation.

Pickles from Philadelphia said the hike was part hiking and part thinking and reflecting. Then he also acknowledged that it was also part learning not to think. Urban life is very busy and we are thinking all the time.

Pickles said, “When I get back to the city, I want to take time to get out of the city into nature so I can just wander and refresh myself.”

He earned a degree in art therapy with a minor in art and has been working as an art therapist. His girlfriend in Pennsylvania is going back to school to finish her education. Pickles said that as he hiked he has realized that rather than doing therapy, he wants to devote himself to art.

I told him that I painted with acrylics and he pulled out his phone and googled some of my work. Then he showed me an image of one of his paintings, an urban scene with a fascinating blend of split complementary colors mixed with text expressing his unique voice.

“People say you shouldn’t mix text with painting,” he said.

“But that’s what they think…” we both refrained simultaneously and laughed.

Pickles compared a lesson he had learned from art to hiking the trail.

“You just show up,” he said. “Sometimes the inspiration is there and sometimes it’s not, but you show up every day. Sometimes I don’t like hiking the trail because it is difficult or painful, but I show up every day. I don’t even necessarily think about the destination.”

Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad, sometimes it’s truly inspirational! You just show up everyday.

In the meantime, Phoenix rejoined us from the store. She is attending University of California Santa Cruz studying premed.

“I have almost completed my undergraduate degree, but then the trail called,” she said, “so I will finish up when I complete the hike.”

She was planning to go on to study neurology, but now is thinking of going into cardiovascular work instead.

When she heard Pickles and I discussing art she said, “I would like to get back into art!”

We asked what kind of art she did and she said she was more realistic and had done a lot of drawing in the past.

One of the pleasures of the trail is that the hikers have such diverse talents.

As we prepared to load their packs into the Jeep, Songbird told me that they had a trail family of eight. He showed me two pictures: seven of them at the foot of Mt. Whitney and another somewhere further up the trail with all eight of them.

He and Phoenix had currently been hiking together for about three weeks. They hadn’t seen Pickles for several weeks but now they would be hiking together for awhile. Another of their family had hiked on ahead. One was resting at Burney Mountain Guest Lodge. Whoopie was at the McDonald’s and would hike solo but probably meet some of them again further up trail. Two others were somewhere else.

They had met earlier on the trail and become friends. Each one was hiking his own individual hike, but they stayed in touch by cell phone, followed each other’s progress on social media, reunited periodically, and hiked together when their pace and goals aligned.

On the drive to the trail head, I was silent as they checked their phones to receive messages and check trail conditions. One of their friends had just hiked 51 miles in 20 hours. He was far ahead.

Phoenix gasped. Two nineteen year old girls hiking the PCT had just been found dead in a rocky area of the bottom of a waterfall in Oregon. Everyone was deeply shocked and saddened by the tragedy and wondered how it had come to pass, but they took it in stride. They had faced some close calls themselves.

Songbird, Phoenix, and Pickles ready to head north to Canada

You never know what the trail may hold. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad. You just show up everyday. Sometimes you hike alone, sometimes you create a wealth of shared memories with friends and family. It is a challenging journey full of beauty and love.

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Burney Mountain Guest Ranch an oasis for PCT hikers

The Burney Mountain Guest Ranch is becoming a favorite stop for many Pacific Crest Trail hikers.

Main Lodge

The ranch is located just one fourth of a mile off the PCT at mile 1407.2 on the trail. It’s a great place to rest, resupply, and charge up the cell phone. Wi-Fi is available. There are laundry facilities and showers. Because it is so close to the trail, hikers can rise early, have a good breakfast and get off to an early start on their day’s hike.

Mike and Linda Morse bought the ranch in 2014. They did a lot of work renovating the lodge and cabins and installing shower and laundry facilities.

Mike and Linda Morse

Their timing was good. In December 2014, the movie Wild starring Reese Witherspoon came out. The movie is based on the 2012 memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed that reached No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list.

After the release of the movie, traffic on the PCT increased more than three times from 3000-4000 hikers to as high as 14,000 hikers each year.

“The world comes to us at the Burney Mountain Guest Ranch,” owner Mike Morse said.

Packs on the porch

Two weeks ago, I had given three hikers a ride out to the ranch. Today, my wife Linda and I decided to drive out to learn more about it. When we arrived we saw packs on the porch.

Three friendly hikers were resting and chatting outside: Uncle Jesse from San Francisco, Sheagol from France, and Radio from Roseburg, Oregon.

Uncle Jesse from San Francisco

All three were thru-hikers who had hiked all the way from Campo, near the Mexican border, through the desert, over the Sierras, down into the Pit River Basin.

Sheagol and Radio had begun their hikes at the same time and had seen each other early on. Radio said he hikes about 25 miles a day and had taken about 10 zeros on the way. Sheagol likes to pace herself at 30 miles a day but had taken between 20 and 30 zeros. How interesting that after more than 2 months and 1400 miles hiking they ended up sitting together on the same bench at the Burney Mountain Guest Ranch.

Sheagol from France and Radio from Roseburg, Oregon

Radio works for a winery. He had time before the harvest and life was at an impasse. He had never done long distance hiking before, but he decided that he would give the PCT a try.

He said that the experience was both an exciting adventure, meeting the challenges of the trail and seeing new things every day, but also a chance to think about his life. He said that one of the ways in which the hike affected him was that he felt more comfortable meeting people in new situations.

This prompted a discussion about anxiety and fear. Many people are plagued by anxieties and fears which are groundless. When one faces them, one finds that there is “nothing to fear.”

Then Sheagol pointed out the difference between this kind of angst and healthy fear that one feels when there is a clear and present danger or a life-threatening situation. Sheagol is an adventurous young woman who exudes a sense of confidence. She has worked numerous different jobs in France. and she flew over from France to hike the trail by herself.

Hiking the PCT there are lots of times one experiences fear resulting from clear and present danger. They said that while hiking the 600 mile stretch through the high Sierras in late June and early July, about 150 miles of it were still packed with snow. Streams and rivers were high and raging with the waters of the melting snow. In many places the trail is precipitous.

Radio told the story of one girl who was frozen with fear as she was crossing an icy fast moving creek. She came to a point where she could not move. Panic had paralyzed her. Her legs would not move. She just fell down on all fours and was in danger of being swept downstream.

Fortunately, Radio and several other hikers were there to help her to the other side where after a period of time she was able to calm down and regain her composure.

I went inside the lodge and met Mike and Linda Morse. There is a beautiful dining area, a piano, a delightful lounge area. The ranch serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Outside, there is a nice pool on the veranda with a lovely view.

Hot Coffee from Finland in the dining area

Linda and Mike talked about the operation of the ranch.

“It’s half trail angel and half business,” she said.

Supplementing the amenities at the ranch, they are also trying to develop a network of trail angels to assist the hikers in various ways such as providing rides when needed.

Linda told of a young Irish hiker who had a severe tooth ache. She arranged a dental appointment with a local dentist and gave him a ride into town to see the dentist. The young man had a root infection. The dentist was able to prescribe needed medication. Linda later received a letter from the boy’s mother in Ireland saying, “Thank you for taking care of my son.”

In addition to providing services for PCT hikers, they also cater to fly fishermen and other vacationers. They offer a variety of family-friendly activities for guests, including games, horseshoes, a pool table, and a swimming pool.

Pool area with a lovely view

After chatting for a bit, Mike showed us the store they had built for the hikers. The shelves were stocked with goods that had been suggested and requested by hikers.

Store stocked with trail supples

As well as providing supplies, the store also has postal services. Hikers can have resupply packages sent to the store for them to pick up when they arrive, or they can ship packages.

Then Linda took us on a tour of the grounds and cabins. There is plenty of room for camping.

Plenty of camping area

There is a small building with laundry facilities and showers for the hikers.

As we walked, Linda explained  that the guest ranch is not for everyone. Alcoholic beverages and drugs are not allowed. She said that she has nothing against people partying but this is not the place for it. Their mission and passion is to provide guests with a welcoming, inspiring experience. There are several quiet areas set aside for reflection.

Mike and Linda are also starting a non-profit organization called Rapha Healing. Rapha is the Hebrew word for healing. Linda has a background in counseling and the mission of the organization will be to host leadership seminars and retreats for women’s groups, men’s groups, churches, and other organizations. She wants to have programs for veterans. Already they have hosted one group from Warrior Expeditions, an organization that provides veterans with everything they need to complete a long distance outdoor expedition at no cost to the veteran.

One of the cabins

She showed us two cabins, each of which have one bunk bed room

One of the bunk rooms

and one very nice private room.

One of the private rooms

So hikers have a choice of simply camping outside overnight, sleeping in a bunk, or having a nice sleep in a big bed. Rates vary and the ranch offers several PCT specials that include a meal, laundry, pool use along with whatever lodging they choose.

After the tour, my wife and I enjoyed a delicious hamburger. While I ate I had a chance to talk with Hot Coffee, a hiker from Finland. Hot Coffee had hiked the mountains in Norway, Sweden and Finland. Wanting to try a longer hike, he chose the PCT.

Beginning in the south, he hiked through the desert and then took a four day break to fly back to Finland because there was a special occasion to celebrate with his 15 year old son.

When he returned he went to Dunsmuir and hiked to Ashland, then went back to Dunsmuir and hiked south through Burney Falls Park and then to the guest ranch. He planned to continue south over Hat Creek Ridge and Lassen.

He wasn’t planning to hike the Sierras yet. His whole family was coming over to the US to visit for 10-12 days and they were going together to Washington state, where he hoped to hike in the Cascades for 2 or 3 days with his son.

When his family returned to Finland, he would continue hiking in Washington and then if he had time, return south to hike the Sierras.

Hot Coffee began his PCT adventure on April 12. He was planning to continue hiking until he had to return home on October 31.

After we finished lunch, we went out to say goodbye to the hikers on the porch and met one more hiker from Denver named Snoop.

Snoop from Denver

Friendliness, hospitality, peace and serenity in a beautiful scenic setting. The Burney Mountain Guest Ranch is indeed an inspiring oasis on the trail of life.

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