Approaching a dirt road, we heard laughter up ahead. Subway Steve was there. He passed out cold drinks, fresh Subway sandwiches, pies, fruit, and candy. We sat there eating and talking with Subway Steve, That Guy, and several other hikers for almost an hour. Two miles later we reached a small cooler with more trail magic: icy cold water and sodas.
Reaching Rock Spring Creek, I was dismayed to find what was reported to be our only water source filled with algae and sludge. Nevertheless, with no other options, I pushed through shrubs and thorny blackberry vines to gather water from a place where the water flowed more strongly.
Below the creek, the trail led to an asphalt road near a PG&E facility. No signs indicated where the trail continued. After trying various trails and running into dead ends, I finally knocked on the door of a portable building with a truck parked outside. A man wearing a PG&E t-shirt answered. He laughed when I asked for directions, knowing how unclear the trail is through that area. He offered us Gatorade, then pointed us in the right direction.
Reaching Highway 299 to the town of Burney, we found still more trail magic as someone had left a bag with several packages of Chips Ahoy cookies. From the highway, the trail meandered through the forest, then followed the edge of a high ravine with a river below. We stopped for the night in the forest above the ravine, not far from Burney Falls State Park.
Just before crawling into the tent for the night, Sierra noticed a large nest made out of sticks perched on the flat top of a tall dead tree. The nest appeared uninhabited, so we could only speculate as to what large bird had once called the nest home.