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By Tuesday, September 6, 2011 , ,

Castle Lake

The long weekend just flew right by, but that tends to happen when you head out of town. Over the past Labor Day holiday we drove north to the Shasta area. Just long enough of a drive that it makes for a great 3 day weekend destination.

Number 10
We camped at Castle Crags State Park. {side note - many great state parks are on the list to be closed. Major, major bummer!} Nestled beneath its namesake, the park is tucked in a little valley right off I-5. Right off I-5 means that big rigs drove by all night. We also had the pleasure of listening to the trains roll by. But the campground itself was nice and quiet with clean, warm showers.


the dome
In the ranger station while checking in I over heard the ranger talking on the radio with another ranger reporting a rattlesnake at the vista point. The ranger on the other side of the radio confirmed he'd heard the reports too, but hadn't found it. Hmmmm...

After setting up camp we headed up to the vista point. On the little walk out there we met with a couple returning who described where the rattle snake was. And... it was curled up right where they said it would be. I wonder why the ranger hadn't been able to find it. We gave it a wide berth and headed off to our next adventure.

That evening we hiked up to Heart Lake {also possibly called Little Castle Lake} from Castle Lake. It was a heart pounding couple miles up to a nice view of the lake below and Mount Shasta off in the distance. We waited for the sun to go down and then hiked back down to the car. It was a late evening of hot dogs and baked beans for dinner, then showers and to bed.

the view
The next morning we were up early as per our usual. {this must have something to do why we never feel rested after a long weekend} The morning activity was the easy hike out to Middle McCloud Falls. No one was at the lower falls - popular for its swimming hole - when we went by first thing in the morning. Chilly temps don't lend themselves well to swimming.

the view
Middle Falls was similarly unpopulated. The landscape was lush and the falls a bit misty. We hiked up past the falls to get a good look at them from above.

from the top
After a nap we checked out the River Trail in Castle Crags State Park. The trail took us under I-5 and then under the train tracks and over the river on a suspension bridge. Lukas called it "the trail inspired by a civil engineering enthusiast". We butt-scooted down to a little spot on the river. I showed my toughness by only taking 3 minutes to dunk myself briefly in the fridgid water. {I know this because Lukas had the audacity to film me - that I wont be posting!}

Clouds in the sky that afternoon meant another trip up to the view above Castle Lake. We thought there might be a different trail up to the top. But that proved not to be the case and instead we got a good "warm-up". Day two and the hike up was still heart pumping. The second trip up the mountain was worth it though! The sky filled with some amazing color.

the shot
It was even later when we made it back to the campsite for our standard dinner and then to bed.

Before heading home the next day we woke up at 6am. We parked in the town of Dunsmuir and walked along the railroad tracks to Mossbrae Falls. There were a couple of spots by the tracks where there wasn't a whole lot of space along side should a train have happened by at that moment. We did see one train, but it was at a time when there was lots of space.

The falls themselves were beautiful and unique. Water poured out in streams over mossy rocks into the flowing river running parallel to the cliff face. Spectacularly awesome.

We hustled back to our campsite, broke camp, and were on the road headed home by 10am. With the trip behind us we made a pit stop in Santa Cruz to pick up the kitty and Lukas's art show supplies. Exhausted, we made it home {late-ish} Monday night.

The minor casualty of the trip was the screen of our hiking GPS. Lukas's nifty carrying system of holstering it to the waist belt of his camera bag only worked until he took off the bag and set it down on the GPS which in turn was on a rock. Thankfully we had a screen protector on it. Things could have been much worse!

GPS :(
Happy travels!


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