Monday, June 5, 2017

Squaw Valley Creek Trail

Day three, we hiked an 8 mile loop that starts by crossing over a small footbridge by the Cabin Creek Trailhead to the PCT footbridge that crosses Squaw Valley Creek.

The directions for the hike states not to cross the PCT footbridge. After exploring the bridge and pretty gorge, we head up to where the PCT splits to the right.

We hike the loop counterclockwise. After hiking along the PCT for about a mile, we come to the junction of trails called the "Octopus".  We head down the inviting fire road listening to numerous birds singing to each other.  We were happy to be walking under the canopy of fir, pine, cedar, black oak, and dogwood trees since it was very hot, 90s.

We hear the Bear Trap Creek to the right, which is located way below the fire road at the start of our descent. As we descend, we notice many springs and seasonal creeks feeding into Bear Trap Creek. Once the road levels out, we cross a vehicle bridge. In the pool by the bridge are numerous Umbrella plants or Indian Rhubarb.

This region of Northern California is so much greener and healthier looking than Central California.  We stop to put on the extensions of our pant legs since the next section of the loop will take us through sections where poison oak grows profusely along sections of the trail. Mainly the first mile from the junction of the fire road and the Squaw Valley Creek Trail, aka Cabin Creek Trail, has the densely patches of poison oak. We were happy we were hiking this in the spring and not late summer when the poison oak would be covering the trail.

The Squaw Valley Trail follows the Squaw Valley Creek until it connects to the PCT. As we got closer to the PCT, about half way into the hike along the Squaw Valley Creek, the trail improved. We stopped at an opening along the trail to look at a falls, rest, and eat a snack.

So many flowering plants lined the rocky gorge in this area. After a relaxing rest, we continued the gentle climb back to the trailhead. We only came across three folks that walked from the trailhead to the PCT bridge and back. Later that evening, we saw them at Fowlers Camp. They had explored numerous places by car that day.

Our drive back to McCloud on Squaw Valley Creek Road provided us with such a rewarding surprise, majestic Mt. Shasta.

I was so pleased to have found this hike:

There are so many more beautiful places in this region of Mt. Shasta that my husband and I are looking forward to exploring.

Part 3 of Mt.Shasta/ McCloud

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Fowlers Camp!

Sunday morning, we drive to Fowlers Camp to see if there are any open first-come-first-serve sites. We find that most of the camp is empty and very quiet. Site 32, situated away from the trail that runs next to the river, we call home for two nights.

After setting up our site and eating lunch, we head off for a hike on the McCloud River Falls Trail. The trail from Fowlers Campground to Middle Falls is heavily used by many folks wanting to see the Middle Falls. Folks will come in for the day to hike from the lower falls to the middle falls region of the trail.

We continue our climb up the trail to the viewing area for Middle Falls.

I had read that some young, fearless kayaker went over this falls this past April. He survived!

The McCloud River meanders for miles until it flows into Lake Shasta. We continue our hike to the Upper Falls, which isn't as impressive as the Middle Falls.

From the Upper Falls, we find the marker for the trail and hike to Lakin Dam Picnic Area. The dam is much small than I excepted.

The trail snakes close to the river with numerous places of volcanic rocks to scramble over-- and reminding us that Mt. Shasta is close by.

We rest in the peaceful clearing in the picnic area before heading back to Fowlers Camp.

Part 2 of Mt. Shasta / McCloud.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A Blessing in Disguise!

My husband stated that he wanted to camp at a place we haven't visited. I stated I wanted to see the Mt. Shasta area. We both knew it would be at least a six hour drive from home. So, we planned on staying at least three nights. This was the weekend before Memorial Day Weekend, and we didn't make any reservations. The plan was to camp for three nights at Fowlers Campground, but that didn't happen.

While driving the portion of I-5 through the mountains of Shasta Lake, the oil light came on. The car was overdue for oil change, which was scheduled for the next week. We drove into McCloud to get gas and top off the oil, but McCloud didn't carry the correct oil for our car. So, we came up with a plan to find a campsite at Fowlers, unhitch trailer, and then head to the NAPA store in Mt. Shasta for the oil. It was a great plan, but that didn't happen. We got to Fowlers to find all of the sites taken. Yes, my bad since it was a Saturday afternoon. And yes, I know that reservations at a popular campground on a weekend is essential to nab a site; but, I didn't make reservations, and it was a blessing in disguise.

While waiting for husband to get the oil, I walked Meeks around the parking lot and enjoyed the stunning view of Mt. Shasta. Once husband had topped off the oil, I told him of a campground that is located closer to Mt. Shasta city than McCloud. I told him to keep fingers crossed.

We got lucky! From our campsite we had a view of Mt. Shasta. There are no views of Mt. Shasta from any of the campsites at Fowlers Camp.

Not only did we have a view of Mt. Shasta, we also had views of the snow covered Trinity Mountains.

Our site was so private. Nobody was camped in the site across the street from us or right next to our site. And even if someone had been right next to us, we wouldn't have been able to see them.

After settling in, we took a stroll around the campground.

While researching this campground, I read of a small creek that runs through the campground. Meeks enjoyed drinking the icy cold, clear water from this spot.

There is a hidden water pump. One has to cross the creek and hike a short distance to an open area where the pump is located.

We were camped at one of the sunnier sites. Many of the other sites are under the canopy of trees and were not as private as our site. 

We walked across the main road, Everitt Memorial Hwy, to check out the dirt road across the street. Sadly, that was just a dead-end and didn't provide us with a road to hike. There are no hiking trails close to the campground.  From the middle of the road, there is a great view of Black Butte.

Since the weather forecast for the next day was the low 90s and I had planned other hikes in the McCloud area, we agreed to just one night at this beautiful campground.  

In the morning before hitching up, we drove the Everitt Memorial Hwy until it ended at Bunny Flat, due to snow. Many cross-country skiers were taking advantage of the late season of snow, which doesn't look like it will melt until late August. 

This gem hidden beneath gorgeous, snow-covered Mt. Shasta is such a wonderful campground that I wish it wasn't so far from home. My husband and I would love to explore more of this area of Mt. Shasta.

Part 1 of 3 Mt. Shasta/ McCloud

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Eastman Lake

My husband and I headed off to Eastman Lake for an overnight camping trip. There are two campgrounds at Eastman Lake. We stayed in the less popular campground, Wildcat. We were happy that we did not follow the norm of other campers. For we were rewarded with having the entire Wildcat Campground to ourselves! The only sounds were that of the birds chirping.

Eastman Lake is a beautiful lake with a hiking trail that follows the lake.

We hiked the Lakeview trail that starts at the parking lot at the bottom of the hill by the Group Campground.

During our hike, we only saw one kayaker and the patrol boat. There weren't any other hikers on the trail.

The Lakeview Trail is 4.5 miles one-way. We were hoping to hike to the end to see the Raymond Bridge, but a mile from the bridge our path ended into the lake. The route for the trail was underwater.

The tall grasses and the roaring sounds from the feeder creek deterred us from the challenge of connecting to the trail across the newly formed inlet. We could see where others had made the circuit to connect the trail.

Plus, our lack of adventure to make the circuit was also due to the fact that the clouds were starting to look ominous and it was late afternoon.

Across the lake was an area of hillside that had some stone extracted from the hill. We wondered if the stone was used for the dam.

We were blessed with numerous plants still in bloom. The Buckeye trees gave off a wonderful sweet scent.

A couple of times we passed by areas with large boulders. In those areas with the boulders, the temperature along those sections of the trail was much cooler than the other sections of the trail. We wondered if there were some cave entrances by the boulders along those cooler sections of the trail.

After a peaceful night with only the sounds of the owls and light rain, we awoke to the quiet and dry campground. After breakfast, we took the trail from the campground downhill to the Spillway. Again, we were the only folks out hiking.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Inverted Valley

After hiking up the buttes by Black Butte Lake, I started to research on other areas closer to home where ancient volcanoes created interesting and unique geological structures.

Tuolumne Table Mountain between Jamestown and New Melones Lake is an inverted valley miles long. One is able to hike up to the top for spectacular views of New Melones Lake and the Sierras.

Nine million years ago, a volcanic eruption sent lava flowing into a river bed where the lava hardened  as it cooled in the river. Slowly over time, the soft soils surrounding the igneous rock eroded leaving an inverted valley.

While following the trail, my husband and I missed the junction/bend in the trail that heads to the top. Instead, we followed the trail that passes by two caves and ends at this pile of boulders. We did climb up a bit thinking this was part of the trail, but we quickly realized that we had missed the junction.

We did see some climbers and other folks exploring this area. The 4.6 mile trail starts at the end of Shell Road on BLM land. Dogs are allowed on the trail. 

After a wonderful time exploring the Inverted Valley, we headed back to camp at Tuttletown Recreational Area. We were located in site 12 of the Acorn Campground. Most of the campers were situated up the hill, far away from our location. Nobody was at the site next to us; so, we had a quiet evening. 

In the morning while drinking tea and relaxing under the beauty of the oak tree, I listened to the birds. Wild Turkeys, Bobwhites, Quails, and Woodpeckers were busy making their presence to mother nature.

Later in the morning, we explored the trail from the campground down to the lake. From that trail, we followed numerous other trails to create a loop back to the campground. We were very surprised at the wonderful trail system throughout this recreational area that we are looking forward to returning again to explore more of the trails.

Saturday, March 25, 2017


My husband and I decided to head to Lake Berryessa to check on the lake's water level and possibly do some hiking. We had camped here the year before when the lake was very low. So naturally, curiosity got the best of us after all the rain this past winter. The weather forecast for that weekend was cloudy with possible sprinkles.

Luckily for us, the weather did provide a couple of hours of blue sky.

Since we felt lazy, we didn't hike the Smittle Creek trail as we had done on last year's visit to the lake. Instead, we hiked around Spanish Flats campground's section of overgrown old campsites situated across from where we were camped. We hiked up to the water tower and then out to the point.

Then we headed back to our RV. My husband took a nap while I watched the water-skiers in wetsuits enjoy an afternoon on the lake.

It was wonderful to see numerous families out enjoying the campground and trying to fish along the banks of the lake.