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


Out of This World 2 – Volcanic Legacy

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These volcanic rocks that are scattered below Mt Lassen (CA,) sure looks like something Out of This World, don’t you think? Mt Lassen is an active volcano, meaning that it could have another eruption at some point. The volcanic rocks in this photo is from the big eruptions in May 1915. The ash rained down on a radius of more than 200 miles around Mt Lassen. I recently read a story about two young men, homesteaders, that acquired two adjoining lots below Mt Lassen, just before this eruption. It was a thrilling read to experience the eruption through their words. I read the story in; The Pacific Crest Trailside Reader, California: Adventure, History, and Legend on the Long-Distance Trail . (I’m not an affiliate, just a good read. For less than $2!) I find it very interesting to read stories, and legends about our two volcanoes, Mt Lassen, and Mt Shasta. There was a great story about Mt Shasta in that book as well, supposedly an eye witness story..(decide for yourself if you believe it or not!)

I love hiking in the areas of the volcanoes, and explore the landscape that so evidently bear witness of their eruptions. I took the photos in this post while hiking Iron Canyon Trail, outside Red Bluff (CA.) I really like this trail, everything about it except the cows and occasional bulls (so big and unpredictable.) It’s free range in this area, and you’re actually in their “pasture”.

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Looking in the other direction on the trail, is the Sacramento River. This is an historic overlook, called river bend. It’s approximately 2 miles into the hike (the hike is 4-5 miles. Depending on what trail you choose. There’s several different trails, not that well marked, but they all lead back to the parking lot.) I usually stop for a quiet moment of meditation above the river when reaching this point. It’s not a high trafficked trail, and you often have this place all to yourself. I remember experiencing it for the first time, with my daughter, it took our breath away. This view comes all of a sudden, while hiking in the barren volcanic landscape. It’s very surreal. The whole hike through this volcanic tablelands is.

I hope you enjoyed the photos. If you’re interested in doing the hike yourself, take Hwy 36 East from Red Bluff, after a little more than 5 miles you’ll se the trail head on your left side. It’s easy to find, and easy to hike. My daughter was 2 years old the first time she did the whole hike by herself. Dogs and horses are also able to use this trail. There may be some water on the trail during spring, but totally doable, wear good shoes. This trail is awesome all year round, but doesn’t have any shade for those hot summer days. Best to do the hike sunset, or sunrise, during the hot months (end of April- end of September.)

How is your week so far? I hope it got off to the best possible start! I accidentally slept in this I believe my body needed it. I usually get up at 4-5 most mornings. I don’t set an alarm, I’m just a morning person. Today I woke up at 6.20!! After that well needed rest, Ghost (my horse) and I, had a fun session of outdoor play, at liberty. You can see the photos on Instagram.

Have a wonderful day!



Ms Zen


A Face in the Crowd 2 – McCloud River

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Yesterday we took a hike along McCloud River, just outside McCloud (CA.) This is a well maintained hike, of an amazing waterway. It’s often challenging to photograph the river, and the three waterfalls along the trail, without accidentally catching a A Face in the Crowd (this week’s photo challenge. Here’s my first entry to the challenge.)


We did see around 20 people, during the 3-4 hours we spent along the river yesterday, not too bad, for this kind of place.


My daughter suggested that we built a house next to the lower waterfall! Why not? LOL.


As always when there’s water included, Gretchen, my dog, had a blast!


We had hoped for lots of snow, but there was only some patches here and there. The temperature was comfortable, in the upper 30s, and the sun felt warm on our cheeks.

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We started at the lower fall, and hiked out, and back, viewing all three falls. It’s not a very long hike, 3.8 miles all together. It’s perfect for a Sunday stroll with a 5 year old. We stopped many times looking at rocks along the river, crashing some ice, throwing sticks to our dog, comparing different kinds of moss on the trees, and we climbed some bigger boulders on the side of Middle Fall (where we had our picnic lunch.)

The perfect picnic spot!

We had a fantastic day. I love combining; fresh air, exercise, play, education, exploring, photography, quality family time, and meditation in one outing. That’s the kind of multitasking I like!
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To the right, from where we had our lunch, the pine trees covered the river, making part of it in full shade. The shady patches, like the one on the photo above was really cold.

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This is also Middle Fall, seen from above, further up the trail. We had our lunch on the boulders, in the center, of the bottom of the photo. If you look closely, you can see some people trying to get to that spot. I love how the trail follows the river. It’s a peaceful hike. I believe I’ve done it in all seasons now. They are all wonderful in this magical place.

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This is the Upper Fall, the last one on our trail. We started at the Lower Fall, walked up to Middle Fall, and saw the Upper Fall last. Then we turned around, and walked the same trail back. You can park at any of the falls, and connect to the trail there. You don’t have to do it in a specific order. There’s plenty of parking spots, and clean restrooms at every trail head. This is a hike, or outing for everyone that enjoys beautiful nature. You don’t have to hike if you’re unable to, you can choose to drive to each trailhead and just enjoy the waterfalls.

The easiest way to get there is by taking 1-5 towards McCloud (CA,) and then take Highway 89 for 15 miles, east of the I-5/89 junction, and 5 miles east of McCloud and turn south on Road 40N44. Look for a Fowlers Camp/McCloud Falls sign. It’s easy to find. If you have access to a smartphone, google maps will take you right there.

If you want to stay longer, there’s simple campgrounds next to the falls, but I can highly recommend the RV Park in McCloud, if you’re an RV;er looking for a cool place to spend some time. McCloud also have several B&B with good reputation, but I haven’t personally tried any of them. McCloud is an old logging town, with many beautiful houses, and interesting things to see. There’s an abundance of hiking trail, and Mt Shasta is close by.

I actually shared a post about McCloud Falls in June last year, when this blog was a newborn. Have you seen McCloud River Falls? If so, tell me about your experience! I would love to hear about it!

I hope that your week got off to an awesome start 🙂


Ms Zen

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