I wrote this entry a few years ago.
Nature is a vital re-balancing refuge. Today, I hiked up to Horse Camp (elevation is 7950 feet) from Bunny Flat on Mount Shasta. The hike takes me about an hour in one direction. Sitting at the backside of the Sierra Club’s stone cabin built in 1923, I face Olberman’s Causeway–a path built by Joseph Macatee Olberman. The path leads up to Avalanche Gulch which is the beginning of the climb to the summit of Mt. Shasta. I’ve been told that scaling Mt. Shasta is not something you want to do in late summer. It’s the season for avalanches. Summiting is not something I aspire to…but I love being here.
The mountain has a few slimming glaciers on this south side; it’s mostly cocoa-colored now with sparse hardy trees, shale and rocky outcroppings. At this lower elevation, there is purple lupine and rugged bouquets of gold flowers that soften the landscape. Flutters, birdsong and a sneaky chipmunk keep me company. The chipmunk gets more daring, checking me out to see if I have food. A few feet away, I see that he looks healthy enough.
Voices precede their owners, filtering down from the summit trail. Masculine voices as if through a megaphone. There is a stone fountain with a water spicket–the most pristine
spring water to be found…and cold! A rugged woman with an overnight pack stacked high trudges by me. She’s no stranger to nature and camping.
I could say that I’m on a Vision Quest…questing for my next occupation, preoccupation, gift to offer the world. Afterall, a gift given is a gift received. Connecting to the earth at this power spot, I imagine that if I get quiet and receptive enough, something will get through to me. I’m here yet often somewhere else in my head. Meanwhile, the men catch up with their voices. No one I know in this weary bunch of summiters. They unstrap their backpacks and rest on the adjacent bench.
The chipmunk is right under my feet. So bold. “Go away,” I whisper. One man clucks for the chipmunk. The chipmunk ventures closer but sees no food offering so he retreats– back to me. My mind wanders and I wonder if my smartphone has reception here.
In the spring, 2019, this is how Mount Shasta looks from Bunny Flat, elevation of 6950 feet, after a “real winter.”