It was tough to wake up after such a deep sleep, and the early hour felt redundant with the day’s schedule. Today we’d be passing through Lassen National Park within which we can not camp due to bear canister laws. Luckily the park stretch is only 19 miles, and being 6 miles from the boundary meant we had to do 25 in total – a long but do able day. However 3 miles into the park was an opportunity we could not miss, Drakesbad Guest Ranch. Here we would be able to use their pool and tuck into a lunch buffet at 12 before getting out and doing a mile heavy afternoon.
First though, we strolled through woodland for the morning miles with a Geyser and Boiling Lake providing our eyes respite from the monotony of the trees. Nine miles into the day we came across the ranch in all its quaint beauty nestled in the forest. With time to spare before the buffet we were granted access to the hot springs pool where we took a dip, had a shower and sun bathed for an hour. Another group of hikers had arrived earlier and we joined them for lunch when it was time. For $15 it was an all you can eat feast of pasta bake, salad and steak sandwiches. Absolute bliss. As a big group we hung around post food baby (some of us passed out) for a few hours before deciding it was time to get back to trail life.
Once again, the first 6 miles were dominated by woodland whose humidity and dense population of mosquitoes made my skin crawl. This however, gave way to a stunning walk around the Twin Lakes and an open cool path among a dead forest. It took a solid evening walk, but we eventually busted out of the National Park with a little light left to aid the almost immediate camp set up.