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


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

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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