The plan was that we'd spend the night with the trail angels in Old Station and get out early in the morning. Thinking about the exposed, hot, dry, 30-mile long waterless stretch ahead, we decided to leave in the afternoon so we could be in the shade during the hot part of the day, and on the rim itself during the cool part of the day. Right after breakfast, Sweet 16 got a terrible stomachache, followed quickly by diarrhea. As the day progressed, Microburst and I started feeling sick too. This morning, Micro and I came down with the shits too. So we delayed our departure until this afternoon, when all three of us felt good again. What happened? Was it food poisoning? Hand washing? Bad water? Whatever happened, I'm glad the effects hit while we were in town, and it was convenient if we all were to get it that it was pretty much at the same time.
We spent long enough hanging around Hiker Hideaway feeling poorly for me to get really annoyed by many people. All of them are really nice, well-intentioned people, which makes me feel like a horrible person that they get on my nerves and I don't like them. I found myself doing very unflattering, mocking impersonations of a middle-aged woman with romantic troubles, dedicating herself to helping make hikers happy. She doesn't deserve that kind of mockery, no matter how she walks, talks, smacks her gums, or dresses! I also wanted to take the cute, nice, and smart girlfriend of an attractive but really obnoxious hiker aside and say, "I don't care how hard it is to find a decent guy in New York, you can do way better than him!
Before heading up to Hat Creek Rim, we went through the Subway Caves, which are something like the biggest lava tubes (in the world? this side of Quincy?). They were cool. Once we got down into them, we started hearing a faint but growing high-pitched whistling, which slowly changed until we realized Jaybird, Paul, and Gnar were probably having fun with the accoustics of the cave. It ended when it seemed like the cave was an enormous didgeridoo. 16 and I had the foresight to pull out our headlamps, but Micro had figured she'd just mooch off of our illumination. Finally, not having her own light was driving her nuts, so she stopped to tear through her pack for the lamp at the bottom, a lengthy process. The next corner we rounded we saw daylight.
At dinner, Micro saw the first glimpse of Shasta and pointed it out. Since we'll be seeing it for the next 13 or so days and I was digging through my own pack, I drily joked, "I refuse to look at it as long as I can avoid it, I'll be seeing it so much it'll drive me crazy as we walk SOUTH around it." She thought I was serious and told me I was being stupid. It did look very nice at sunset, with all the layers of mountains taking on different hazy shades of blue and purple under an orange, pink, and yellow sky, framed with the black silhouettes of ponderosa pine.