Story 2 – A Snow Saga


A few months ago, I search for new hiking trails to explore. I found Castle Lake Trail, near Dunsmuir (CA.) It looked very interested. I hiked it, and a nearby adjoining trail up to another lake, Heart Lake. I found the nature to be extraordinary beautiful, and I’ve been returning at least once a month to this amazing trail. I’ve seen some snow on the trail before, but nothing like last weekend!

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It’s a couple miles uphill to get to Heart Lake, from the parking lot at Castle Lake. The hike is very rocky, when it’s not snow on the trail. This weekend however the snow reached my thighs most of the time. On some places the snow was hard, and I could walk on top of it, but on many places I had to walk through the snow. It was slightly exhausting, but well worth it! My daughter was light enough to not sink, and she had a blast. We still had to stop a few times on the way up. The hike is rated as moderate, and it is a little strenuous for a five year old to hike up. Totally doable though. We took the time we needed, and enjoyed ourselves, and the view.

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Just before reaching Heart Lake, there’s a big rock formation to your right. The local calls it Castle Rock. As we climbed up on it, this was the view that greeted us. The white snow-covered mountain in the background is our volcano, Mt Shasta. Isn’t it gorgeous? I LOVE all the untouched snow.

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This is the view from the top of Castle Rock, with a frozen Castle Lake down to the left, and Mt Shasta in the clouds to the right. Below is the exact same view, taken during a hike in November last year. (Both are available as prints in my gallery.)


I can’t decide which scenery I find the most beautiful, with, or without the snow. I recently read a poll in an online outdoor magazine, that Siskiyou County, where this amazing hike is located, is rated top ten among the most desirable places to live for outdoor enthusiasts. Which is kind of interesting, since the county isn’t very populated. It has many remote places that rarely see people, and the towns are small towns. Maybe it’s  on peoples wish lists, but to actually live there isn’t doable for most people (jobs etc.) ? I don’t live there, but would definitely consider it, if I could make a living there year round. It doesn’t get too hot in the summers, and not too cold in the winters.

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My dog loves this hike. On the upper part of the trail the visibility is good, above the tree line, and I can usually let her off leash, which she loves. Near the trail head I always have her on leash.

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Another shot of her enjoying some off leash time. Heart Lake is on the left side in this photo, but unless you know it is a lake there, you couldn’t see it. The lake is completely frozen, and covered with a thick layer of snow. Heart Lake is located in a little “mini valley”. The snow builds up fast there, in between Castle Rock, and the ridge on the other side. The two previous times I did this hike, people were ice skating on Heart Lake. It would not of been possible to ice skate there now.

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I very much prefer snow in the winter, compared to the endless rain in the valley. It’s a great blessing to be able to enjoy the mountains around us in the weekends. The fresh mountain air, and the light does so much to revitalize my spirit. It also feels like I share a piece of my home with my daughter, even though “my home” was a mountain very far away from this one. Strangely enough, when you grew up in the mountains, all mountains sort of feels like home.

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I think this photo, and the one in black and white of my daughter, is my two favorites from last weekend. Ooo, I almost forgot! One of the most memorable thing was sliding our way down the mountain, on the way back. My daughter and I “belly-slide” (my daughter’s expression,) down. We didn’t have a sled with us, but our winter clothes did the trick. I hope you enjoyed my Winter-Saga-Story. I enjoyed sharing it with you!



Ms Zen


Crystal Creek Falls


On Sunday evening I craved a nature experience. Whiskeytown National Recreation Area was close by, so I suggested a spur off the moment visit. It’s a gorgeous 39 000 acres wilderness area, with over 70 miles of well maintained trails. I love hiking there, and enjoy this area quiet often.


It has four amazing waterfalls. Neither are that challenging to get too. However, Crystal Creek Falls, the one we visited on Sunday, is by far the easiest. You can drive almost the whole way there. The “hike” is 1/4 mile one way. It was perfect for an unplanned visit, with limited time left off the day.

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That said, with a place that is so easy to get too, you can’t expect to have the place to yourself. We did have to wait a while, before the two families that got there before us, decided to move on. When there were no-one there I let Gretchen off leash for a few minutes, she was dying to get into the water. To her it doesn’t matter if it’s cold, she needs to jump in. She is usually a very quiet dog, (she only barks on command, or if attacked.) While waiting for our turn to enjoy the falls she sat next to me, longingly looked at the water and whined…and whined.. She was SO happy when I finally set her free, and told her to play.


After visiting this waterfall last weekend (February 2018,) I was inspired to dig out a photo from last spring. To compare the water levels. This last photo was taken in April 2017.

This is the perfect place to visit if you’re just driving through, have a disabled, or elderly person in your party. Everyone can enjoy this beautiful waterfall. There’s picnic tables, plenty of parking, and clean restrooms. You do need a park permit. You can get that at the visitor center (daily/weekly/yearly permits available.) During our hot summers, this is still a good place to visit, the thick surrounding forest provides plenty of shade. If you want more solitude there’s plenty of other hikes nearby, that provides that. Further up the same road, there’s Whiskeytown Falls, that is a bigger 220ft waterfall, that also requires a little more effort to get there. It’s a 2.8 mile out and back hike, the way there is almost all uphill. It’s not too bad, my daughter have done that hikes many times, the first time she walked the whole way by herself she was 2,5 years old. It’s rated as a moderate hike in most hiking apps.

Whiskeytown National Recreation Area Visitor Center

If you’re interested in visiting these waterfalls, or just enjoying the magnificent lake that this area is named after, I suggest visiting the visitor center first. It is a real nice visitor center, with knowledgeable friendly staff, and you need to get a permit anyways.

Last Years Annual Park Pass

They usually have free maps off the area, and are more than willing to direct you to any place you may desire to see. This is the address to the visitor center:

Whiskeytown National Recreation Area
14412 Kennedy Memorial Drive
Whiskeytown, CA 96095



Whiskeytown Lake seen from the visitor centers parking lot. The waterfalls in this post is on the other side of the lake, only a short scenic drive away.

I truly hope you get to enjoy this area in person ❤



Ms Zen


Weekend Coffee Share

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Would you like some coffee? Or perhaps tea? The coffee is made, and I will have the tea kettle going in not time, if you’d rather have tea. There’s plenty of teas to choose from; black, red, green, and white ones. I’m on my second cup of coffee. It’s a dark roast, and boldly brewed. Strong, just like a like it.

How was your week? Mine was good. We’ve had strong winds here this week. Strong like trying to move my truck sideways on the freeway. My daughter and I have indulged in different school projects; such as a research project about Australia, Valentine’s Day history, rhyme words, remarkable Queens throughout history, what it takes to become a participant in the olympics, and how to research topics of interest on the internet etc. School wise, it’s been a great week!

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Ghost (my horse) is doing fantastic. On the windiest days I’ve adjusted the training, taking that into consideration. I have worked with him twice a day, every day, as usual. I only work him 15-30 min at the time. If we just play it can be slightly longer. I believe in consistency, and short, creative, session. He seem to thrive on routine. A lot of people around our neck of the woods are unfortunate to have the flu, making the indoor riding arena available, more than ever before. We’ve built obstacle courses there, and played with a big yoga ball, perfect for windy days. (You can see this weeks photos, and a short video of Ghost, if you head over to Instagram.) Yesterday it wasn’t quiet as windy as the other days, and I decided to work outdoors, in the round-pen. Since I’ve only had Ghost for a little more than a month, I’ve spent a lot of time working on gaining his trust. It’s true that I have asked him to do things, but more in a getting to know you kind of way. I feel that he trusts me fairly well now, naturally I will keep working on our relationship, but I’m upping the game a little, asking him to face some of his fears. It’s only by stepping out of our comfort zone that we can truly grow. Ghost is a sensitive horse, a very sensitive horse in some ways. He is intelligent, and it is possible to connect to his thinking side, of the brain. Did you know that horses have a thinking side, and a reactive side of the brain? On top of that you have to teach a horse everything from both sides, it’s not enough hat he knows that a plastic bag won’t eat him on the left side of the body, you’ll need to make sure he knows that it won’t eat him on the right side either. With Ghost it is easy to connect to the thinking side of the brain, but the reactive side is still very close. Especially with everything that involves ropes. I can hang over his back, and put my leg over his back, but if a rope touches his back, he is at the other side of the arena, or as far away as he can get, in the blink of an eye. I’ve been working successfully with silk gloves around it, but now when he trusts me a little more, I ask a little more of him. I’m being very carefully to not push too much, because he is so sensitive, but it is necessary that I help him overcome this fear. It can take as long time as it need to take, but I need to help him get through this. Before I do, he’s not going to be able to become a safe riding horse. We did have some major breakthroughs in the matter yesterday, but I am expecting this to take some time. Surely Ghost can have opinions about things, like where he wants to go when we are out for a walk etc, but when it comes to ropes, it’s not that, he is afraid. He’s been through something, at some point. Maybe someone have roped him when he was very young? Even though that doesn’t match the story I was told. Anyways, we will get through this. He is very trusting, and tries, even when he is scared. There was a lot of licking and chewing yesterday. He is definitely thinking, trying his very best. I purposely waited to deal with this, until I knew that he would come to me for reassurance, which he constantly did.

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I’m going to work a little more on this, and then I’m planning on spending lots of time long reining him. Driving him on the ground, with long reins, (sort of if I would have a cart, but without a cart. LOL.) That way he’ll have plenty of time getting used to ropes/lines on his body, before I start riding him. He will also build more muscles, and learn to be soft and supple, flex/bend, and steer easily. All of those things will highly benefit him (and me,) when I do start riding. I’ve also decided that I am not going to use the beautiful, heavy duty, F.Vela saddle I got last week for him. It weighs at least 55lbs, and I’m not sure it would be very comfortable for him. I might try to trade it for a more light weight endurance saddle. We’ll see. Plenty of time to think about that. Spring is just around the corner, and I am definitely going to take advantage of the warmer days, that soon will turn into hot days. Introducing new things to a relaxed horse by the end of a hot day, is something completely different, compared to introducing something new to a fresh horse, on a cold, windy day. If you’re not a horse person, I apologize for all this talk about horses. Can you tell that it’s something that I am passionate about? When I learned to read I read everything there was to read about horses, at the three libraries closest to where I lived (I was 5 years old,) and I mean everything. Growing up, and later having horses of my own, I still enjoy learning more about these fantastic animals. In the end it’s definitely the horses themselves that teach me the most.

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Tell me more about your week! Are you planning to have a garden this year? If so, please tell me about it! I’m not sure about my garden yet. It’s a complicate thing. I have access to 3 acres, that I can do anything I want with. I used to live close by, but I don’t anymore. I’m not sure what I am going to do about that. I love gardening, and I really do want to have a garden. In the heat we have here you need to water it twice a day, early in the morning, and late in the evening. The rest of the day is scorching hot. I would have to drag my daughter out of bed at 4am every morning. I just can’t do that. When you don’t live nearby it’s just not practical. On the other hand, there’s so much that you can do with 3 acres of excellent soil. I’ve been thinking a lot about that this week.

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Today we went on a great hike up at Mt. Shasta. The photos in today’s post are from that hike. This post is a part of the #WeekendCoffeeShare. Thank you for having coffee with me! I really enjoyed your company! Please come back soon.


Ms Zen

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