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mt. shasta


mt. shasta

Scott Bahlmann

Dear M,

We left Seattle as we had found it, dark and quiet. There was a fair bit of traffic heading out, but in general, the small amount of city driving we had done wasn’t too bad. Having a big truck didn’t help much on the narrow streets, but we were happy to have it when we got to the mountain! We stopped in a little town on the coast for breakfast, then moseyed down the 101. We couldn’t help but mosey, considering all the small towns we had to slow down for. But it was worth it! …at least until the sun set and we couldn’t see any of the pretty scenery. That was later though, first there were fun bridges and marshlands, lovely coastal towns, and gorgeous ocean expanses.

The particulars of the drive aren’t really noteworthy, though we did stop in Tillamook to satisfy my fella’s urge for cheese, and finally diverted from the 101 in Florence, hoping to cut some time off the drive. It was a wonderful diversion, passing through valleys full of colorful trees, sparkling rivers, and quaint-looking cottages.

By the time we reached Eugene, and it’s speedier I-5, we were in darkness, and spent the final two hours sort of zoned out. It was nice coming upon Mt. Shasta, the moon was full, and it glowed a bit in the shroud of night, looming from the darkness like a desert you’ve been eagerly anticipating all through dinner. The ascent to our cabin took another hour. No sleepiness for this part of the drive though, as the roads were narrow, and the prospect of slipping off the steep side was enough to shake off our lethargy and put us in high alert.

It didn’t help that I misinterpreted the directions and took us down an even narrower road, overgrown and littered with debris. We slowly continued on until there was an area wide enough to loop the truck around and retrace our path. Slowly we returned to the juncture, and gave the other road a go, and the rest was a breeze by comparison! Arriving at the Gerard Point Lookout, we were still rather amped up, so we looked at the stars and the mountain, appreciating our view and immediate surroundings for a while before climbing into our beds.

One thing about sleeping in a lookout with windows on every side is you can’t help but notice when the sun comes up. The rosy dawn shining behind Mt. Shasta greeted me from my bed, and set the tone for the two days we spent on the mountain. We had a relaxed start to the day, but with such a beautiful sunrise, we couldn't stay in bed. We were out on the wraparound deck, taking some photos, but mostly just soaking it in, as well as the piney clear air.

There was a fire pit set a bit away from the cabin, and dry wood aplenty scattered about, but we’d gotten into California too late to get a campfire permit, so we headed down to the town named after the mountain to get one from the ranger, and had breakfast at a lovely diner while we were there. The rest of the time we wandered about in the woods, napped, snacked on our food supplies, and thoroughly enjoyed the forced relaxation after all the bustle of the city, and the stagnation of the driving. The easiest campfire we ever lit completed the camping experience, as we stayed up late again to appreciate the stars, and to investigate a little vulpine visitor who disrupted our sleep with its unnerving call. 

We headed out early again the next morning for our long drive back to Salt Lake, with a brief respite just outside of Sacramento to lunch with some relatives. It was a bit difficult coming back, as soon as we got to the house I wanted to head back to the northwest. It doesn’t feel like home here anymore, just a holding cell.