Two weeks later I found myself setting up camp at the base of Mt. Shasta.
Air Mattress. Check!
Sleeping Bag and Blankets. Check!
Camp Kitchen. Check!
Too Much Food. Check!
Way Too Many Clothes. Check!
This time I came prepared.
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Mt. Shasta was not done with me yet, and that was ok.
It was not a calling that brought me here this time. It was more of a tugging. I knew as I headed out of town the last time that I was in Mount Shasta that I would be back as soon as it was possible.
No two trips to the same place are ever alike. I knew this going in. There were no expectations on my part to have magical experiences while hanging out for five days in my campsite the second time around. It was going to be a much different visit to the mountain than the previous one.
A completely different vibe.
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Mt. Shasta sits at the southern end of the Cascade Range. It rises to 14,179 feet in elevation and it is the second highest mountain in the Cascade Range and the fifth highest in California. It is considered to be an active volcano and erupts approximately every six hundred years.
People have been living around the mountain for over seven thousand years. The Native American tribes who lived within view of Mount Shasta included the Shasta, Okwanuchu, Modoc, Achomawi, Atsugewi, Karuk, Klamath, Wintu, and Yana tribes. To this day, Native American ceremonies are performed on the mountain.
The climb up to Horse Camp from the parking lot at Bunny Flats is just a little over a mile and a half, and while the trail is steep at times, with rough spots where tree roots and rocks reach out to trip anyone who is not paying attention, it’s not a difficult hike. I don’t do difficult hikes, and I made it.
I left Bunny Flats with my camera and my wallet. Never even entered my mind to consider that I might find a bear or other wild critters along the way. The walk was uneventful that way, and the only critters I ran into were other humans.
Horse Camp is a 720-acre area located at approximately 7900 feet elevation on the side of the mountain that is maintained by the Sierra Club. The Shasta Alpine Lodge is a climbers’ hut made from local stone and wood that climbers can use in case of emergency in the winter. Many climbers use it as a sort of base camp or starting point for their climbs up the to the peak. For goal oriented day hikers, it’s a nice destination for a day hike.
There is also a spring here that feeds off of the glaciers on the mountain. Its water is probably the cleanest water you’ll find on the mountain and with all the blessings it receives from the people who come to visit the spring, it is probably the most sacred water you could drink there as well.
* * * * *I spent the late evening sitting in my camp chair just staring googley-eyed at the infinity that can be the night sky around Mt. Shasta. Click To Tweet
I spent the late evening sitting in my camp chair just staring googley-eyed at the infinity that can be the night sky around Mt. Shasta. Sitting in camp looking at the night sky was not the same as being up at Old Ski Bowl looking out at the Universe, but it was pretty damn cool nonetheless.
As I was sitting there, I noticed a green – lime-ish green, neon-ish green – object streaking across the sky. I thought that maybe it was a meteor as it had a bit of a tail and I waited for it to either combust in the atmosphere or crash into the horizon. It did neither.
As I sat there watching it move across the sky it made a sharp 45-degree turn and headed ‘up’, for lack of a better description of the direction. Then it zig-zagged a little bit and then took off, merging in with the starscape.
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Sound asleep. For camping out in nature, my tent and the air mattress I purchased just for this trip were really comfortable. I slept like a baby. Until I felt something walk into the wall of the tent. It nudged my foot. At 3am. Somehow I had the where with all to listen to the breathing. A bear would be a heavy breather, all snorty and noisy. A deer would be curious but its breathing would be lighter, non-threatening. A human? A human would be breathing but it would probably have been laced with swear words for tripping over the tent stays.
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Cooking in camp. My favorite pastime. ‘Nuff said.
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During this very mellow stay on the mountain, I took a daily road trip or explored the little towns of Weed, Mount Shasta, McCloud, and Dunsmuir. I stuck my feet in Castle Lake. I viewed McCloud Falls.
Stopping into the crystal shop, the one where the three people were happy to help me find my way up the mountain on my first trip, I wanted to thank them for their help. When I walked into the shop, they were nowhere to be found. Not even one of them. And the vibe in that particular crystal shop was completely different this time.
It made me wonder if they even existed in the first place and then, combined with other observances of the different energies of each stay on the mountain, it dawned on me, that maybe, just maybe, that first trip was a crazy call to Initiation. Initiation to what, I am not sure.
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Continue on to Om Shasta Shasta: Part Three