The hiking on the second day was much more strenuous than the day before. We started hiking up to the ridge that we could see from our campsite the night before. We passed by all the patches of snow and reach and amazing vista point. We could see 360 degrees around us, with rolling meadows in one direction and snow covered Mt. Lassen in the other.
From this point on we were hiking off-trail to our next campsite. We followed our topography map and stayed high up on ridgelines for a long time. The Thousands Lake Wilderness had some volcanic activity in the past so the ridges were rocky and very slippery because of the gravel in some places. After a very long and strenuous day of hiking, we finally made it to our campsite.
When we got to the next lake we were staying at we all immediately went for a swim. The water felt amazing! It was warm because of how hot the weather had been. After we were all dried off and ready to learn we sat down and talked about staying found. Whenever you go out on any sort of trip it is really important to leave someone with as much information as possible. Tell them where you are going and when you expect to be back. This is extremely important so that if you do get lost they will know where to start looking for you. Another thing before you even leaving on your adventure is to make sure that you are fully prepared. Check and double-check that you have all the appropriate gear what whatever activity you are going out to do.
In the event that you do get lost it is extremely important that you stay calm. Sit down. Grab a snack and grab some water. Self-care in the backcountry is extremely important. The next steps are meant to help you get found. If you have a whistle blow it, if you don’t yell for help until you can’t anymore. Once that proves to be unsuccessful there are a few different techniques that you can use to get found. Layout brightly colored closes in groups of three so that if someone comes upon your site, but they don’t see you they know you are looking for help, like SOS. Bright colors are also easier seen from an airplane. Another good was to signal airplanes is making fires in groups of threes as well. Anytime you are dealing with fire it is very important that you are capable of keeping them under control. Again, while you are doing these things it is vital not to neglect your self-care. Make sure you are drinking water and that you have a place to sleep, should you not be found before nightfall. Luckily if you join a WWO trip all of our staff are very well informed!
As the sun started to set the bugs started getting bad again so we made a good sized fire and put in lots of green pine needles to make a nice smokey fire to repel the bugs. There were two different types of pine branches around our campsite. One of them burned normally and the other one crackled like fireworks! It was kind of fun to hear all the crackling and popping. We all decided that we should wake up early the next morning so that we would be able to get on the trail and back to the van at a reasonable hour so our arrival in Chico would be early.
In the morning we all made quick meals, packed our packs, treated water and headed out. The hike was mostly downhill and all on trail so we were able to fly through the short hike we had. At one point, one of our leaders stopped the group and said he had seen a bear! Good thing we were keeping all our food in bear canisters all weekend. The bear had been burrowing through a log looking for bugs to eat. The noise of the group scared it off because no one passed the first hiker in our group caught a glimpse. It was just a short time after that we made it back to the van, pile back in and were off to Chico.
The drive back was much shorter. Once we reached Chico we put away all our gear and walked to Burgers and Brew downtown so we could all fill our bellies with their delicious burgers! We sat around and chatted some more, reflecting on our trip and looking forward to the summer ahead of us!