A Day Hike On Hat Creek Tehama … Plus, Groundwater ‘Unsustainability’ Commission Puts Profit Over People

Congratulations on emerging sweaty but alive from the hellish temperatures of this past week. We hiked the Hat Creek trail out of Old Station just before Mother Earth turned up the burners. The trail is in Lassen National Forest and starts in the Cave Campground across Hwy 89 from Subway Cave.

What? You’ve never been to Subway Cave? It’s a ? mile long underground lava tube you can walk through. It is a cool 46 degrees and completely dark once you get in there, which is fun and a little unnerving. You can hold your hand in front of your face and not see it at all. Obviously you need a flashlight or headlamp to go through the cave and the floor is very rough so sturdy shoes are recommended. Bare feet and high heels are out. As for the 46 degrees, that sounds pretty good right about now, doesn’t it?

Subway Cave – liveandlethike.com

But back to the trail. Take the foot bridge over Hat Creek and follow it downstream. It starts in a lovely forest, but eventually opens into the burn scar from the Eiler Fire of 2014. I think that’s the one – there have been so many fires I can’t remember them all anymore. Lots of Manzanita and some burned trees still standing. Stunning views because there are no trees in the way. Silver lining. Did I mention we saw more bear poop than we’ve ever seen in a single day? You might not want to camp out there.


Sugarloaf Peak

Remains of a cool bridge

The flat trail follows close to the creek for over 4 miles, but sort of petered out on us at around 3.5, so we turned around. Hat Creek, known for world class fishing, is running strong with beautiful little waterfalls and shimmering lazy wide spots. They look just right to jump in, but I almost lost a toe to frostbite when I stuck my piggies in one. It’s a nice easy hike and you can cool off across the street in Subway Cave when you’re done. Check out JJ’s Cafe for breakfast or lunch. Fun day trip. Put it on the calendar or it won’t happen.

JJ’s Cafe in Old Station – TripAdvisor.com

And speaking of not happening, the pipe dream of saving money by adopting cutting edge technology won’t be happening anytime soon, if ever. Instead of forward thinking, we will be getting a part time IT coordinator. The system is falling apart because nobody stepped up to fill the wonderful former tax collector Dana Hollmer’s shoes when she retired a year ago. She received a stipend in addition to salary to dabble in IT stuff. The job should have been flown months before she left so a replacement could have at least kept us treading water. And it absolutely needs to be a full time position.

To say county government does not value technology is to drastically understate the situation. We have a supervisor who doesn’t “do computers” and he is just the tip of the iceberg. The fact that they think a part time IT person can keep up with the county’s needs for ever-changing integration of hardware and software shows just how out of touch they are. It probably takes you a month to update your phone’s OS. I could go on and on about the general reluctance to enter this century, but there are even more serious issues at hand. Water, of course.

Photo by California Department of Water Resources

The Tehama County Flood Control Water Conservation District Board – aka the board of supervisors – will receive comments at a Public Hearing on the proposed Groundwater Regulations Monday, September 12 at 10am. Why is every meeting of the Groundwater Commission and FCWCD not picketed by throngs of people whose wells have gone dry as a result of inaction by these people who are tasked with keeping groundwater sustainable? It’s their only job and they suck at it. The commission even took the word “sustainability” out of their name. Of course, they are intentionally not doing the job because that would mean a majority of them would lose money.

Photo by Rachel Becker – CalMatters

Look, I get it. We’re in a megadrought and living in a climate that is changing more rapidly than even scientists predicted. And it doesn’t matter whether humans caused it or not, so you libs and MAGAs can stop fighting about that and concentrate on slowing the acceleration.

We must face facts. Our surface and groundwater supplies are dwindling and orchards are not helping. The rate at which they are being planted is alarming. The GC and FCWC create legislation that will be fine if we get a decade of wet winters. It does not address the emergency we are facing right now. – pulling more water out of the ground than is going back in. It’s like the county’s budget – how long can you spend more than you make?

The RBDN article on the Corning water issue was eye-opening. County residents are purchasing water from the city while those with bigger deeper straws continue to suck the ground dry.

Corning City Hall – Red Bluff Daily News

Addressing the article, my new buddy Tim Mesa did some quick calculations. Tim is a student at UCSB studying hydrologic science and policy. He is also a US Navy vet that served on the Carl Vinson as a Nuclear Machinist Mate specializing as an Engineering Laboratory Technician. Smart cookie.

Tim wrote, “If you do the math at 2800 gallons a month, that’s 33,600 gallons a year. Let’s pretend Corning has 10,000 homes – not even close with only 8,360 people – that’s 336 million gallons a year for the town. Divide that by one acre foot (325,850 gallons/acre foot), and you get 1,032 acre feet. That is as much as one, just ONE (Chip, please leave in the caps – they are Tim’s) almond orchard in one water district uses. That district meters water which is why I know this number. I’ve read it off the meter and no, I will not name which orchard. One orchard uses enough water in one summer (~4 months) to supply the city with drinking water for one year.”

How long are we going to let this go on? Glenn County has had a moratorium on new ag well drilling for over a year. Why aren’t the dry well people demanding one here? We need a moratorium on drilling new ag wells in affected areas. Stop the bleeding. Then do a rain dance, start monitoring and metering and look at prohibiting certain crops in vulnerable areas. Incentivize drought resistant crops.

Please attend the FCWC meeting – in person or by phone. Especially you dry well folks. See you next Monday.

If you appreciate journalist Liz Merry’s reporting and commentary, please consider contributing to A News Cafe. Thank you!

Liz Merry

Liz Merry was born in Brooklyn, raised in the Bronx, then transplanted to the Jersey Shore. She moved to Chico in 1984 and married her comedy partner, Aaron Standish, in 1990. They have lived in Manton since 1994.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments