During the entire 25 years (since 1992) which we have been living in California, we have never took Interstate 5, all the way up North to the Trinity Alps of the Cascade mountain range, extending from southern British Columbia through Washington and Oregon to Northern California. until this 4th of July/2017
Instead of the customary gathering and hosting our friends, who all took off this holiday to other far destinations, we gave up on spectating our famous East coast style traditional township's parade, and spontaneously ventured off to explore the mountainous Cyprus and Pine forested terrain of northern Ca.
Visiting Mt. Shasta and Mt Lassen National Parks was our destination. Situated only 4 driving hours away from the Bay area this majestic wooded range is rich with water streams, waterfalls, and lakes thus provides aqua-recreation to masses of visitors who love fishing, boating and swimming.
The country’s second largest water Dam -Shasta Dam was magnificently erected on the way here, in a record time, during the big depression of the 1930 by public work, and for the people, rescuing many from hunger and poverty.
This mega project has been providing since hydraulic center which lights up the entire city of SF, as well as plenty of irrigation water for the orchards and agriculture crops growing in abundance, at the vast semi dessert central Valleys' farm.
"Pacific Crest Trail "( PCT) The highest portion of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountainous range is also very popular among adventurous long-distance hikers/ pack-packers, who cross on rout, by foot for about 6 months, through the scenic "Pacific Crest Trail "( PCT) stretching out from Mexico all the way up north to Canada.
Charming little towns In between and along the interstate route, some charming historical little towns, which we drove through, are worth visiting. I especially liked "Dunsmuir" - on the upper Sacramento River in the Trinity Mountains.
"McCloud" - Located in the Shasta Cascade area
Historical "McCloud Hotel" in McCloud - We lucked out and unplanned managed to stay at the night of the 4th in this historical most quaint small hotel-Inn, which also served great food beyond our expectations at its "Sage" restaurant.
The inn's owner, most pleasant welcoming lady, told us that she left congested Santa Monica of South CA for this northern sleepy mountainous very small community, and so far her "exit retirement strategy" has been happily working for her. McCloud B.B. Guest house - There was also this charming place we passed by and which we liked in McCloud, however it was fully occupied that night by a large noisy party, who seemed to be fixated on the 1960 golden years, judging by the shinny flee of only elongated Lincoln and Cadillac vintage cars, from that era, parked demonstratively, on the attractive lawn in front of the guest house. McCloud (Lower Middle Upper) Water Falls off Hwy 89 These 3 enchanting water falls, which are located a short distance drive from McCloud town are wonderful to visit.
A walk by the river trail and a swim at its convenient natural water pools is a must on a host summer day. Water is crystal clear, cool and inviting.
David especially enjoined dipping at the "Cattle Camp" water pool. which also facilitates a friendly car access to the river pool area.
Right at the Upper Falls, as a special bonus, we encountered most friendly and engaging Grandpa- Steve - a Post Master from Redding, on an nature's outing with his 3 darling attentive grand kids. They call him S-Opa- a combination of Opa (Grand in German) and S-for Steve. Steve generously gave us his time, along with best suggestions on what to do and not miss in the area, for which we were very grateful, as well as in return, had shared with him and the curious kids, about Israel, and also recommended movies to watch .
We would have taken Steve along with us, as our tour guide, had he not been already booked to guide his own precious grands for the day. Steve kindly offered to give us the grand tour of Redding on the next occasion we make it up that far North.
City of Mt Shasta Driving through this quint Alpine community, we were guided to get on Everett Ave, which leads up to this, now white snow bold head towering mountain, avalanche capricious,
Mt Shasta - An Active Volcano
On a perfect pleasant clear sunny weather, like we were blessed to have, the walk by foot, from the last car park station, up the mountain was inspirational.
The views of the surrounding area, the colorful blooming wildflowers, and even the short distance climb up, that we took, are worth effort.
Burney Park Lake Britton
Mcarthure - Burney Falls - Most spectacular waterfalls . The trail going down to the Fall's foothills is not long but quite steep.
Continuing East on route 299 off the 89 Hwy, we crossed Burney Lake and then entered the Mcarthure - Burney Falls Memorial State Park
Driving up the steep mountainous Hwy 299 reveals amazing changing Rock formations, green Meadows, water Streams and cultivated agriculture,
"River Fall Mills"- small agriculture town by Fall River Known for its production of Fall River Wild Rice, Garlic, Mint, Hay, Lavender, Alfalfa and of cattle.
It was a busy weekend for hotels occupancy, at this agriculture back country, and the selection of vacant quality inns, was limited, when we had enough of driving for the day, we had compromised on: Burney Mountain Guest Ranch - in Castle (Tel: 530.335.254) The rugged typical Californian privately owned ranch, is situated on the high mountainous terrain, right off the "Pacific Crest Trail "( PCT) .
It attracts many pack packers/hikers. For 25$ per night, they can set up their tents on the ranch's ground, and get in return a safe night sleep, an outdoor shower, and a bad breakfast. On the night we stayed there, but in one of the spacious wooden basic cabins, there were maybe 10 very compact tents planted on the premise, whose exhausted bare-foot owners of various ages, were spread out by the pool, or at the communal dining-hall's launch. The charming blond bearded Poul (38) from Australian, especially coughed our attention. He works half a year as a pharmacist in Tasmania, and travels during the other half. Him and his co-worker friend take turns in maintaining the pharmacy each for six months only at a time. He has been hiking on his own, almost 4 months since April, with few short stops to visit friends in San Diego and San Francisco, and has 3 more months to hike .
He also told us, that several nights ago, a mountain-lion came by to sniff him while he was asleep at his tent. Awaken by the noises, he kept still, frozen and was miraculously, saved from becoming the next meal to the wild beast. Daring... or crazy... Unless you can stomach graciously the horrible food being served and the religious fervor (also typical to this part of the state's mountainous communities) being dished out at this ranch, I wouldn't recommend staying there.
Though the ranch's set-up is authentic, and our cabin was reasonable, the religious fanatic unfriendly and stingy owners/staff , the open air huge wooden Cross, looming above the pool area, and the exclusively litergerious books on display, reinforced by religious quotations hung off the communal area's walls, were a huge turn off to us. Even the beautiful views of Mt. Shasta and of other mountains, the pool bonus, as well as the various small wildlife we encountered, didn't compensate for the mentioned above draw backs.
Lassen Volcanic National Park
On our third and last day heading South on the 89 Hwy we reached Lassen Volcanic National Park
The Park is a fascinating wonder of vast wild lush forested terrain, pastoral meadows freckled with water streams and happy Californian wildflowers, clear sparkling mountain lakes, numerous head snowed volcanoes, steaming sulphur vents, splattering mud pots, and boiling springs.
Among the several recommended stops at the park, we particularly liked the walk along the picturesque water stream at "Kings Greek" .
And the steaming vents, splattering mud pots and the climb up along mud hills at "Sulphur Works" .