Jacob Leistra / "Game Boy" / PCT 2019

Day 78: Lassen And Drakesbad

Hitchhike out of Chester -> Mile 1350.3

I was up early and hit Cravings for breakfast. I had a great veggie and avocado omelet and multiple cups of coffee before getting ready to head back to trail.

For some reason, the hitchhike out of Chester took a while. I was probably passed by 100 cars before a local in a beatup truck pulled over for me. One pair of guys even pulled out of the Dollar General parking lot, pulled over in front of me and beckoned me over, and then sped off as soon as I started walking over. The driver flipped me off and laughed as he drove off. Despite the handful of nice locals I met, I guess Chester is like every other small town and has at least a couple assholes.

Regardless, I got back to trail and began my 19 mile easy hike into Lassen National Park and Drakesbad Guest Ranch. Lassen requires you to use bear protection for your food if you camp in the park. Seeing as I never want to have to carry a bear canister ever again, the plan was to hike to the Warner Valley Campground right next to Drakesbad, and head to Drakesbad for dinner. There’s some mixed reviews of the Drakesbad dining experience, but generally PCT hikers give it positive reviews.

It was my first time in Lassen and I really enjoyed it. There’s everything from forests, meadows, rock formations and outcroppings, geysers, hot springs, and more. The sights were interesting but fleeting since I spent the majority of the day weaving through trees and occasionally dipping into a meadow.

Oh, and I came within 15 feet of a bear searching for food in a log across the trail. I stopped, gave a polite greeting, and he ran off at a leisurely pace. A bit of an anticlimactic experience, but he was a cute little bear.

I arrived at Drakesbad and took advantage of a free shower. I waited with about 9 other hikers for the dinner service to kickoff for hikers, since the resort restaurant prioritized overnight guests with reservations first. We heard about buffet meals, but apparently that was only for breakfast and lunch. Dinner is a prix fixe style menu for $17 and I chose the “protein” option, shrimp scampi with quinoa and veggies. I didn’t grab a photo because we finally got our food after an hour and a half of waiting, so it was quickly inhaled. It was pretty good overall–just not filling. I had to eat a couple Pop Tarts at the campsite to tide my stomach over.

While waiting for dinner we all talked about tomorrow’s hike. The elevation gain was minimal compared to the last week. I’ve decided to try to get my first 40-mile day, so we’ll see how that goes.

Main Photo: The view of the main building at Drakesbad Guest Ranch on July 28.