Day 35: Shasta Mountain, CA
The one guy looked like Charles Manson. He just seemed to stare off into space in a psychotic kind of way. The other ones, mostly men, had a friendly easy way about them. They weren’t all camping next to us; some of them were just visiting friends. I had met one of them, maybe the ring leader of the group while checking in. He was in his mi- 50s, wore a fedora and a dirty shirt and told me a little bit about the area trails. He later told me he was from Wisconsin, had driven up here with his kids, and now his wife, daughter, brother in law and a niece have been living at campsite 74 for about two months. We ended up in campsite 73. While setting up I talked to one of the visitors. He had lived in Mount Shasta as a kid, then Florida with his wife, and now, with his marriage “tanked”, with a bunch of people in campsite 74 for an extended period of time. He was maybe in his mid-40s, had a worn face, and talked to me with a rolled up something or other in his fingers.
Going through Humboldt County we passed through no less than three reggae festivals. We also saw more people in dreads than I had ever thought possible. Corey today asked someone what that was all about. The lady laughed and said it went along with their number one cash crop. While Southern California is often in touch with their feelings, Northern California is just stoned.
Anyways day 35 was a lot of driving. We saw Mount Shasta and that was pretty cool. At any time other than end of the trip, we would have spent a few days here. It has that earthy and genuine feel we dig. As our friends at aMaceing Life might say, we could live here. But my day job starts in two weeks and we are still hoping to spend a few days in the Tetons. So we bargained with ourselves and decided to do some hiking in the morning and drive a little less tomorrow. 5 weeks out and we are glad you are still with us. Safe travels every one.
Day 36: Mount Shasta, CA to Klamath Falls, OR
Today started in circles and ended with laundry. We headed out of town, but not before stopping at the rangers station for hiking information. The volunteer working there offered two good choices; hiking on Mount Shasta or great falls in the national forest (but away from the mountain). After deliberating with my family we chose falls. Got on Interstate 5 heading south, guided Corey into a truck weighing station and then was reprimanded by a highway patrolman for going too fast (in our defense we thought we were on HWY 87). After getting to the correct road Corey and I both were bummed not to be going on the mountain so we u-turned and drove past the original ranger station in order to drive up Mount Shasta. We ended up hiking 1000’ up over 1.7 miles to the base camp for summiting the mountain (the Bunny Flat trail; no we did not see any bunnies). At base camp is a Sierra Club stone hut from the 1920s, a friendly volunteer who was tenting at base camp for the summer (and was probably in her mid 60s), and a great spring for the drinking. After good conversations with an assorted group of serious mountain climbers, hikers, and others from the U.S. as well as Germany, we departed ready for the drive north. A couple of hours later we were setting up camp at the KOA in Klamath and meeting new neighbors. Yesterday it was harmless hippies, today was a large extended and unregulated family drama (not our family). Corey struck up a conversation in order to gauge their intentions, and within a few minutes found out mom was on disability, she has three kids and is in the process of moving herself and kids to Alaska via Arkansas, is estranged with her own mother, and her current husband has some kind of recurrent stomach ailment. Uncle Mike was the best. Me: “Do you know anything about HWY 140.” Him: “I took it twice but both times I did so in a back of a van.” A little later: “Both times I was headed to prison.” Later Grandma showed up and this resulted in a very loud yelling match and someone driving off. Corey did want me to add that although she was overflowing with drama, mom and teenage daughter were both quite nice. One more thing; this KOA also doubles as a liquor store so people come from all over town seeking out King Cobra and the other fine liquors stocked by this establishment. Another couple more weeks out and I will be blogging about sleeping on park benches. Anyways, enjoy the pictures from our hike.
Day 37: Klamath, OR to Ontario, OR
Today was a lot of numbers; we drove our 5,000th mile of the trip (and about 375 for the day), had our second oil change, and spent our sixth night at a hotel. Last night was our 30th night camping so we are one hotel and one campground away from a week and month at both. In the process we drove through rolling grassy valley (no irrigation needed along most of 140), high dessert scenery, through tight canyons, alongside rives, and past alkaline lakes. Lunch was an informal thing on a gravel bed looking over Lake Albert (which to us greatly resembled Mono Lake). Ice cream was another necessary break at a DQ in Vale (the same DQ we stopped at last year on our way to the Tetons). But the theme of the day was getting somewhere and while we enjoyed the ride, there was not a lot of genuine exploring today. One nice moment; while eating out for dinner we dined next to a large extended family gathering. It was a little girl’s birthday and us observing her being fitted with an oversized sombrero while being sung Feliz Cumpleanos was the sweetest family moment that did not belong to us in the longest time. Tomorrow is probably another long driving day that may end in the Tetons. Keep in touch.