We sailed north over the almost-empty freeways. Stopping at a dam and cooling off our feet and minds, we hopped back into the old car and continued on for no more than half an hour when we saw her; Mount Shasta standing tall and proud in the north.
“She’s beautiful,” one of us whispered.
“Yeah, she is. Wow…” answered the other.
The freeway took us through woods thick and thin, and soon we were taking an exit and making port in the town of Mount Shasta. There, we finally stopped and stared at the beautiful mountain, her slopes covered in snow and ice, her peak reaching the clear blue sky. “Beautiful” couldn’t describe it well enough.
“They have a Black Bear here?” asked my companion and expected me to give him any sign of knowing what he was talking about, possibly show some excitement, too.
“What is Black Bear?”
“You don’t know Black Bear diner?” And so it was decided that we had to go to Black Bear diner so that I could have the experience that seemed to have shaped a big part of my companion’s growing up. And I must admit, the food there was pretty good. It was clear there and then that that wasn’t our last stop at Black Bear.
After the late lunch, we headed up the Shasta slopes and found the spot where we planned to stay for the night. It was a beautiful disperses-camping campground, surrounded by trees and quiet. The only downside was the very fine dust – it was the most comfortable to sleep there but everything had a grey tinge after a few hours.
After setting up the camp, it was time for a little hike. We drove to a trailhead a little ways up and found the path we were to follow.
We started up the Shasta slopes, and soon we found first patches of snow. It is usually hard to relate the joy I experience from being around snow to adults, since most of them don’t share this excitement – especially in coastal California where I live.
We had a little snowball fight before continuing up the mountain, and it seemed to be the best part of the day so far, even though the food from Black Bear was so delicious that it posed a strong opponent to our “play time.”
Like a child, besides the snow, I was properly excited about everything – the serenity of the place, the trees, the single-track path winding through the thin wood, and the wildflowers that we occasionally passed.
However, what got me perfectly on the edge of my seat were the LAYERS of mountains that we got to see once we reached the edge of the tree line. I couldn’t fathom the beauty of it; the peaks stretched seemingly forever, disappearing in the gentle late-afternoon haze.
When we reached the place above which we couldn’t continue without permits, we enjoyed the view, clear of trees, and sat for a little while to listen to the perfect quiet that surrounded us. The alpine meadow that we reached made the space it occupied seemingly endless, and it seemed that we could walk among the rocks in this garden forever.
Too soon, it was time to go back, cook dinner, and get some good sleep for the next day.
In the morning, we woke up into the birds’ singing and hundreds of little footprints in the dust in our campsite. Birds, mice, and even some type of cat visited us at night.
I cooked breakfast while my companion broke down the tent and soon, we were back on the road, saying “see you soon” to Mama Shasta and heading north, over the state line to Oregon.