A Zen-Minded Thanksgiving Week, part 3

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I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, this is what it is to be happy. 
― Sylvia Plath

 

The third, and last part of my Zen Minded Thanksgiving Week, a beautiful hike along the McCloud River in northern California. (Here is the first, and the second part of the series.)

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The McCloud River is probably northern California’s most scenic waterway. It features  three amazing waterfalls, along a 4 mile well maintained trail. It’s a super easy hike, part of it is even paved.

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One of the most unique things with this place is that each waterfall have their own trailhead, parking lot, and clean restrooms. You could just drive up to one of the trail heads, and simply enjoy the waterfall, if you’re for some reason unable to do the 4 mile hike.

 

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more.
― George Gordon Byron

 

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The lower fall have a wonderful swimming hole. It’s very popular during our hot summers. The swimming hole, and the trail can be crowded during spring/summer. I’ve done this hike many times, and last week was the first time I didn’t see a single soul, until after the hike.

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The water was ice cold, but my dog couldn’t resist jumping in, time after time. She’s crazy about water, and a  great swimmer. McCloud River Trail is a serene place, where the most exquisite nature is easily accessible for everyone. It’s very suitable for meditation, especially this time of the year. Have you been there? If so, what was your experience? Is it a place you would like to visit?

Happy Friday!

Love,

Ms Zen

 

PS. I just came back from another road trip last night (Nevada and Lake Tahoe.) I’m home to do some laundry, and repack my bags for a weekend trip later today. I promise to get back to everyone as soon as I can. I really appreciate your visit, emails and comments here!

A Zen-Minded Thanksgiving Week, part 2

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Mt Shasta

 

When I first caught sight of it I was 50 miles away and afoot, alone and weary. Yet all my blood turned to wine, and I have not been weary since.

– John Muir about Mt Shasta in 1874.

 

I have a favorite hike that I keep coming back to. It’s my favorite spot to admire the magnificent Mt Shasta from. I don’t know how many times I’ve done this hike. I’ve lost count. It’s that many times. It’s Chamise Peak trail, off Flanagan Rd, outside Redding (CA.) I love hiking up to Chamise Peak for several reasons.

  • It’s a relatively short hike, doesn’t take much planning.
  • It’s not a heavily trafficked trail, especially not early in the morning (my favorite time.)
  • The 360 degrees views from the top, are unmatched in beauty on a clear day.

 

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Early on Thanksgiving morning I took my best friend with me, to watch the sunrise from the top. We started out with flashlights while it was still pitch dark out. The morning became a little cloudy, and you couldn’t see as far as I had been hoping for.

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Shasta Dam, behind beautiful fall foliage, as seen from Chamise Peak Trail.

On a clear day you’re able to see Keswick Reservoir, Shasta Dam, Shasta Lake, Mount Shasta and the City of Shasta Lake. We did see some of it, and it was the perfect start of our Thanksgiving celebration. The fact that I know what the views are like on a clear day, serves as a great motivation to do the hike soon again 🙂

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Keswick Reservoir, seen from Chamise Peak.

This is a review of Chamise Peak Trail, that I wrote on AllTrails (the hiking app I’m using to track my hikes,) after my first hike to the peak;

Yesterday my daughter and I, hiked up to Chamise Peak. It was easy to find the trail head, by punching in the address: 17171 Flanagan Rd, Shasta Lake, CA 96019, in the GPS. It takes you straight to the trail head, at Flanagan Rd (right outside Redding, CA.) I have Verizon, and had cellphone reception the whole time (only two bars at the trailhead, but four bars most of the time.)
You start out following Flanagan trail, for a little more than one mile. It’s impossible to miss the turn to Chamise Peak trail. The trail is very well marked, and maintained. There was never any questions of where to go. There are other ways to reach the top (from Sacramento Ditch Trail,) but this is the most popular, and easiest way. This packed dirt trail circles its way straight up to the top, without being to steep, or strenuous.
It was my first time hiking this trail. My 3,5 year old daughter, could rather easily managed the 2.4 miles climb up the peak. (Chamise Peak trail is only 1.2 miles, but since you have to start at Flanagan Rd trailhead, the total length that you hike, one way, is 2.4 miles.)
It’s a turn around trail, so the distance from the parking lot, and back, is 4.8 miles. I would rate the hike as easy+ (it’s rated moderate in some hiking apps,) it is uphills all the way to the top, and then downhill on the way back. Definitely family friendly. The only downside I can think about is, that there’s no restrooms, or trash cans at the trailhead. (Be sure to take all your trash with you. Pack in, pack out. Leave no trace.)
The sun was shining, it was around 70 degrees Fahrenheit when we started out (around 10am,) and almost 80 when we finished (around 1.30pm.) Nice t-shirt weather, without being too hot (February.) There was a light breeze in the air. The forest was quiet, and smelled like fresh pine. Beautiful manzanita trees decorated both sides of the trail, in the beginning of the hike. I know manzanitas are like weed here, but for a Swede like me, they will always be exotic.

Bring enough water! My daughter and I drank two water bottles each, I wouldn’t recommend bringing less (we had more with us.) Our dog drank from a creek in the beginning of the trail, I’m certain that creek will be completely dry later in the season.

I’ve equipped us with sturdy winter hiking boots, thinking it might be snow higher up. There wasn’t any snow. Better safe than sorry..lol. The ground was dry, no steep climbs, or trees over the trail.
The 360 degree view at the top is hard to beat. The peak stands at 1,628 feet high. I knew the view was going to be spectacular, but it totally took my breath away. All my daughter said was ”WOW! ”
On a clear day you will see: Shasta Dam, Shasta Lake, Mt Shasta, the City of Shasta Lake, Keswick Reservoir, Trinity Alps, and even Mt Lassen. We were lucky, and was able to see it all. I wanted to do this hike now, while the mountains still are covered in white. I especially wanted to get a good shot of Mt Shasta, covered in snow. I got it!
We had some leftover pizza (that we made for the Super Bowl,) that we enjoyed at the picnic table, on the top of Chamise Peak Trail. The fresh mountain air, and exercise made us very hungry. I recommend bringing something to eat! We stayed at the top for about 40 min. After drinking a lot of water, munching on the pizza, a couple energy bars, and some apples, we headed back down. We took our time, and strolled slowly down the mountain side. I held my daughter’s hand most of the time, because it was too tempting for her to run down the trail. The sides are rather steep, and the trail is narrow on some places. I felt that it was safer keeping her closer to me. The hike down to the parking lot was very enjoyable.
We had a marvelous day. The views from the top are magnificent. I imagine this as the perfect spot to bring out of town guests. The hike is not too exhausting, and can be made in a few hours. Locals use the trail for every day exercise. This could be your perfect Sunday trip for the family, a great place for a date, or a picnic with friends, and it’s definitely dog friendly.
This trail, and the view from the top, showcase the beauty of Northern California at its best. We’re definitely going to do this hike again!

 

I hope you enjoyed the hike! Have an awesome day!

 

Love,

Ms Zen

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Serene

A Zen-Minded Thanksgiving Week

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Burney Falls

Thanksgiving week recharged my batteries. It was filled with so much outdoor fun, and time to appreciate, and be grateful for all our blessings. We took day trips to amazing places, like Castle Lake in my last post. It was a celebration of the beauty that surrounds us. A week of silent contemplation and meditation. It left me feeling more grateful than ever.

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One day we went up to admire the beauty of Burney Falls (above.) By now I’ve seen the fall many times, the unearthly beauty of the 129 ft waterfall keeps mesmerizing my senses. The McArthur–Burney Falls Memorial State Park is the second oldest state park in California. It’s 910 acres of forest, and five miles of streamside and lake shoreline, including a portion of Lake Britton. The Pacific Crest Trail passes through the park. I love walking through the surrounding forest, looking at the moss on the trees, listening to the waterfall nearby. The fall colors added to the experience this time. The waterfall itself is amazing.

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Dogs needs to be on leash at all times in this park. They are allowed to be at the upper vista point over the waterfall, but not the lower ones. Luckily there’s plenty of off leash opportunities close by!

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If you’re visiting California, or traveling through, Burney Falls is a given destination.

In every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks. 
John Muir

We also enjoyed hiking to Chamise Peak, and McClouds Falls last week. They both deserve their own posts. I love this season, when the weather is perfect for hikes. When I grew up my mom always said; There is no bad weather, it’s a matter of dressing right. You can always play outside. It was true where I grew up. We had cold winters, but one could always dress for that. Here in the Sacramento Valley the summers gets so hot, it’s common that the temperature reaches far above 100 degrees, even up to 115. When it’s that hot, hiking is dangerous. We had more than three months of that weather this summer, that makes me appreciate fall so much more! I feel alive again 🙂

I hope your Thanksgiving week was magical, and that you’re enjoying the calm of the in between holiday time we have now.

With gratitude,

Love

Ms Zen