Our fingers eventually warmed with the exertion of the climb, and by the time we entered Lassen Volcanic National Park I was wearing my short-sleeved shirt. Passing a beautiful rich green swamp, I soon realized this was a mistake, as mosquitoes swarmed around me and began nibbling on my exposed flesh.
The stench of rotten eggs filled our nostrils as we approached the junction to Terminal Geyser. With the geyser less than a half mile away, we decided it was worth the short side trip. As we descended down the steep trail, we glimpsed steam through the trees.
Huge clouds of steam rose from the geyser, and a steady stream of water trickled down from the geyser next to the trail. We watched the geyser from a safe distance from behind volcanic boulders through several cycles of large, billowing steam clouds. The hot stream flowing from the geyser contained a colorful palette of red and tan sand, blue pools, green algae, and white minerals.
Farther down the trail, we passed Boiling Springs Lake, reported to be the second or third largest hot springs the world. Fine red volcanic sand and white minerals surrounded the opaque, mint green lake water, which is heated to 125 degrees by steam rising from within the earth.
We reached the Drakesbad Guest Ranch by lunch. PCT hikers are like human garbage disposals for Drakesbad, allowed to eat any excess food at the salad and sandwich bar after the resort guests have eaten. PCT hikers are also allowed to shower and use the natural hot springs pool. Loaner clothes are provided for hikers who wish to do laundry.
The PCT hiker picnic tables, which kept us segregated from the regular guests, felt a bit like the kids' table at a large family gathering. Nevertheless, the resort staff treated us well and provided us with large quantities of delicious food. We shared a table with Northstar, Shutterbug, Ace, Skippy, and Blueberry.
Jeff met us just after lunch. Together we headed into Chester where we will be taking a zero to celebrate Sierra's birthday tomorrow.