Thursday, June 30, 2011

Nearby Sights

So what else have we done while enjoying our free campground at Lake Shastina? Well, here are a few of the high points.

This was the most unusual hike. You actually follow the railroad tracks for 1 1/4 miles to reach an equally unusual waterfall.

Mossbrae Falls is only about 50 feet high, but 150 feet wide. The water cascades from numerous springs down into the Sacramento River. It's really quite a sight.

Here's another piece of it.

These pretty flowering bushes were along the trail (or railroad track, in this case.)

We also went to Hedge Creek Falls - a short, but steep hike down from the road. Pretty, but what I was really excited about was spotting an American Dipper or Water Ouzel happily dipping into the rushing water looking for lunch.

Another day we visited the Living Memorial Sculpture Garden, located nearby in the National Forest. Dennis Smith, who is the artist and sculptor, lives on site and explained the project to us and answered our questions.

The garden is dedicated to veterans of all conflicts. This is Dennis's version of the famous raising of the flag on Iwo Jima during WWII.

But Dennis also wanted to honor all who serve. This sculpture commemorates nurses, medics, and doctors whose courageous acts save so many lives.

And let us never forget the POW/MIAs.

This sculpture had quite a story. It is called The Peaceful Warrior, one who loves peace but will fight to preserve that peace.

I asked Dennis about the dents on the warrior's chest which appear to be from bullets. I wondered if they were part of the original sculpture or from vandalism. He explained that it was an act of vandalism done by a jealous artist whose designs had been rejected. Wow! I personally thought it added to the meaning of the sculpture, but I'm not sure Dennis would agree.

There are 10 sculptures in all, each one more poignant than the last. We were all very impressed and glad we had the opportunity to see them.

And you know I couldn't post without another shot of Mt. Shasta. We visited a lavender farm and I couldn't resist. This would be better with early morning light and in another week when the lavender would be in full bloom, but we do what we can.

We plan to stay here until our 14-day limit is up or our holding tanks fill up, whichever comes first. With us it will be the tanks, I'm sure.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

New Friends and Experiences

But first I have to tell you what I found out about this lovely free campground at Lake Shastina. It wasn't always this nice. I understand that in the past it was used by homeless people (as opposed to those of us who are houseless) and was really a dump. The county has cleaned it up and regularly patrols it now. We have been here for over a week (14 day limit) and the worst problem we saw was a loose dog.

As I think I mentioned, we caught back up with our WIN friends. On a previous trip through this area, Donna had met Jane who lives here in Weed. We had Jane join us for a potluck one evening and she invited us for Sunday brunch. We all brought something (I made lemon poppy seed muffins and Ron brought precooked sausages) and we had quite a feast. I should have gotten pictures before we demolished the food, but I missed that. (We WINs can eat!)

From the left are Ron, Austin, Lois, Claudia, Jane, and Jane's friend Barbara.

Also present were Donna, Paul, Margaret, Ellie, Judy, Mary, and Duane.

Jane has a gorgeous place on 5 acres with three horses. This one is 3 years old and very friendly.

She seemed to take a liking to Claudia's hair.

Jane hitched up Momma who has won numerous ribbons and treated some of us to a ride. Fellow horse woman Margaret was first up. Just look at the view from Jane's backyard!

Like almost every little girl, I read all the horse books and dreamed of having a pony. Then I grew up and realized they're not like big dogs. Margaret snapped this picture of me enjoying a ride around the course.
After our visit with Jane, Ron and I checked out a waterfall that a local man had told us about. It was nice, but not a great picture.

Next we drove the Everitt Memorial Hwy up Mt. Shasta. On the way we stopped for this view of 'The Eddys', the mountain range across the valley. You also can see the town of Mt. Shasta and Lake Siskiyou.

Then we were stopped once again by snow. It didn't look that deep to me, but I guess their snow plowing budget is shot for the year.

We did get closer to the peak and the road only goes another 3 miles anyway.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Lake Shastina

And the many faces of Mt. Shasta.

For the past week, we have been staying in what is probably the best FREE campground in the world. Lake Shastina Public Access Campground is run by the county of Siskiyou and located outside of Weed, CA. We are parked right on the lake and, other than our WIN friends, the campground is remarkably empty.

Now for the faces - here we have Mt. Shasta in full sunlight.

Next, she appears softer in evening light. Those are our RVs parked on the right.

Finally, just as the sun drops below the horizon, the mountain top is tipped with pink. Pretty cool, huh?

The lake is home to hundreds of Western Grebes which stay too far away to photograph. But we caught these white pelicans and cormorants doing some cooperative fishing one day.

We've been pretty busy here with sightseeing, hiking, and potlucks. More about that next post.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Castle Crags State Park

The rest of the group moved on, but Ron and I just weren't tired of our spot in the forest yet. We'll catch up again soon.

Meanwhile, we did a day trip to Castle Crags State Park on Father's Day. We started with breakfast at the Cornerstone Bakery and Cafe in Dunsmuir (CA). I had a banana pecan waffle (yum) and Ron had what he always has - he's nothing if not consistent.

Then it was off to the park. We drove up to the vista parking lot, which happens to be where most of the hikes start. Good thing we went on a Sunday - the parking volunteer said on Saturdays it's usually full by then and he has to close it down. How sad. They need buses!

Anyway here's a shot of Castle Crags from the vista point - just a short walk from the parking lot. Although we've seen granite spires like this in other areas, it's an unusual formation here.

And looking the other way, Mt. Shasta appears in all her glory. Since my camera is not as efficient as our eyes, I had to underexpose this to show the pretty snow. I don't know how the pros do it.

Although we really didn't come very prepared (only one bottle of water between us and no hiking pack,) I convinced Ron that we should follow the parking volunteer's suggestion and hike up to Indian Springs. He looked older than we do and he insisted we could do it. He pointed out that we can refill our water bottle at the spring. The hike uses the same Crags Trail that goes up into the Crags, but cuts off after 1 1/2 miles (and 1000 foot elevation gain.)

The first quarter mile was a snap, then it was a continuous climb from there. Just look at the gorgeous trail - no rocks and covered in pine needles.

Ron decided to turn around after 1 1/4 miles of this climb through the woods and, wouldn't you know, just after that, it opened up and flattened out.

There was enough sunlight for some interesting plants to bloom. I like this hairy little thing.

And this one that looks like a tiny iris.

The cutoff for Indian Springs (an easy .2 mile) had fantastic views of the valley . . .

And the Crags which seemed close enough to touch.

I filled my water bottle at the cool oasis. (If you're really paying attention, you realize that Ron went back down without water.)

I had seen a picture someplace of Castle Dome (one of the Crags) with Mt. Shasta in the background and I was determined to find that shot. So I returned to the Crags Trail and continued up (and up, and up). I even had to do some rock scrambling, but finally, there it was!


As you can see, I was right up in the crags at this point. I'm thinking this makes up for my failure of the other day.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

More Waterfalls and a Tip

While staying with some WIN friends on public land outside of McCloud, CA, we hopped in the car to do the Falls Loop - Upper, Middle, and Lower Falls. It was Ron and the girls - Ron drove.

Upper Falls, while interesting, was not picturesque, so no picture. Then we found the riverwalk and discovered you can walk between the falls. Cool. Donna kindly volunteered to shuttle the car and the rest of us took off for Middle Falls.

The trail hugged the side of the hill with wonderful views of the rushing water below.

Soon we arrived at Middle Falls where Donna joined us at the overlook and we oohed and aahed over this view.

We learned that it was three times as far to the Lower Falls and the other two ladies decided to join Donna in the car. So it was down to Ron and me. From the overlook, the trail wound down to river level and we discovered that Middle Falls is even more impressive from below.

Then we were off to Lower Falls. As you can see the trail was lovely and shady right along the river.

Here we are at the end with Lower Falls in the background. We are so glad we were with Mary, Ellie, and Donna or we would have had to climb back up!

Now for the tip. Mary told us about a fantastic use for fabric softener dryer sheets. You know those bug remains that are glued on the front of your RV and car? Well, she said you just wet them down with a spray bottle (of water) and rub with a dryer sheet and they magically come off. Having had little success with products like 'Bug Be Gone,' we were skeptical, but Mary said we would be amazed. Well, Donna tried it and we WERE amazed. (I should have a picture, sorry.) Try it yourself and see!

Friday, June 17, 2011


I had a goal. I wanted to climb the Cinder Cone in Lassen NP. It looked so cool and at four miles round trip with 700 ft. elevation change, I thought I could do it.

For those of you who are interested, this trail is accessed via a gravel road off state road 44. I had previously checked with the visitor center on the condition of the road and they assured me that our low-clearance vehicle would be fine. And it was, that was not the problem.

It was a gorgeous day with not a cloud in the sky. Most of the trail wanders through a sparse ponderosa pine forest by fantastic lava beds. These flows were from the mid 1600s although they sure look more recent. It's amazing to me how the lava flowed in such a thick mass, then just stopped.

After about 1 1/2 miles, there it was, the Cinder Cone. But wait, didn't I ask if there was snow on the trail? And where is the trail?

A lady who was waiting for her family to get back down told me this is it. Yikes! But she said it was actually easier climbing in the snow than on the cinders which is like climbing in deep sand.

So I started up, and sure enough, it wasn't too bad. I just put my feet where the others had and it was like climbing stairs. I was moving right along then suddenly I realized, "Oh No! At some point I have to get back down." And I didn't listen to Ron who told me to bring my hiking sticks. So I carefully turned around and inched my way back down. (I am really terrible going down a steep trail.)

This is as far up as I went. I feel like such a failure and a wimp.

I'm sure the view would have been much better from farther up.

It did make me feel a little better watching the others slip and slide coming down, but not much since they had made it to the top.

On our way home, we stopped at a viewpoint and I got one last shot of Mt. Lassen. This area had burned recently and I though the skeleton trees were interesting too.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Falls, Fire, and Ice

Well, we caught up with our WIN friends in Burney, CA. It's great to see friends on the road and have a support group. There are only six of us right now, but more will be joining as we go along. With a smaller group, it is easier to find places to park and right now we're scattered around an empty lot in Burney. When we park in a town like this, it's surprising how much we contribute to the local economy. In addition to groceries and gas, we have all done our laundry, a couple went to the tire store, we ate meals out, and I even broke down and bought a new pair of reading glasses. I know my lost glasses will show up, but I figure I can use two pairs anyway.

Ron and I went to see McArthur-Burney Falls State Park, which the others had done before we arrived. The park is the showcase for the lovely Burney Falls.

This waterfall is very unusual in that water comes over the top, but also right out of the cliff wall.

Another day, Ron and I shuffled off to see nearby Lassen Volcanic National Park, which neither of us had ever visited. Unfortunately most of the park road was still closed with snow (SNOW! Are they kidding?) But it was very pretty - maybe more so with the snow.

We started in the very interesting visitors center as any good tourist does. There were pictures there taken of Mt. Lassen erupting in 1915. Really something.

There are actually four types of volcanoes and Lassen NP is special in that it has all four types. But if you want to know what they all are, you'll have to go watch the movie in the visitors center yourself.

Although it's not a great picture, I had to post this shot of a Steller's Jay. Look at that neon blue.

Heading up the 10-mile section of park road that was open, we first passed Chaos Crags and lots of volcanic rock.

'Hot' rocks like this one were blown out of Mt. Lassen on May 14, 1915. As the hot lava rocks careened down the mountainside, they touched off a snow avalanche. The avalanche carried this 300-ton rock five miles from Lassen Peak to its current location. Ron agreed that it was, indeed, hot.

Here's Mt. Lassen, clouds and all.

At the end of the 10 miles of open road was the Devastated Area trail. Hum . . . looks like a problem.

Is this the trailhead?

Hey, nothing stops us.

We returned to the visitors center and took the trail around Manzanita Lake where we saw this family of Canada geese. I'm not a fan of the over-populated Canada geese, but even they are cute when young.

I had hopes of getting a good shot of Mt. Lassen with the lake in the foreground, but when I uploaded my pictures to the computer, I lost a bunch. Note to self - never delete the pictures off the camera until you're sure they all uploaded. Anyway, this is the only lake/mountain picture that was saved. This is Chaos Crags with Manzanita Lake and some nice fisherman.