“When I caught sight of it….I was fifty miles away and afoot, alone and weary. Yet all my blood turned to wine, and I have not been weary since”
John Muir, on seeing Mt.Shasta
Groovy…is the first thing that comes to mind. Having an out-of-body experience is not far behind it. We’re sitting at the “Seed of Life” cafe, surrounded by psychedelic posters and aging hippies. I’m reading an advertisement for “priestess training” and have just learned from the long-haired (and well-tattooed) barista that Mt. Shasta is a natural energy vortex. “you’re in the heart of the sacred mountain spirit, man….people have vision quests to come here”. The only thing nagging at my inner sanctuary is that my mocha cost $4.95 and the old hippy by the door is wearing a $100 Patagonia sweatshirt, was typing on an iPad and just got into a Land Rover. Maybe I am having visions?
Despite all the fluff, you can’t help but be impressed by the view. Mt. Shasta takes your breath away, and energy vortex or not, it’s comes darn close to a real-life modern-day spiritual encounter. Úytaahkoo or “White Mountain” sprouts like a giant conical birthday surprise out of the plains and into a soaring 14,179 feet (4,322 m). Driving north up the pine-lined I-5 amongst gently rolling hills you simply don’t expect it, so when you turn the corner and suddenly face the massive snow-capped peak, it really does shift your inner senses. There’s something about this mountain, and it most definitely draws you in.
Mt. Shasta (the town) is a cute mountain town which cultivates the spiritual vibe, but also rocks some money. There are large mansions just outside of town and the local golf course is a pristine 18-hole dream (we actually stopped to hit a few balls on the range…yes, even me…after hours of Golf Channel and hubby persistence I have veeery skeptically applied myself and realized I can actually hit the ball. The full glory of my golf future is yet to be seen however). Downtown has shops, cafes, a good organic food market and no end of offerings to get in touch with your inner self.
But the real draw to all this is the mountain…and the surrounding nature. Much of the mountain is protected Wilderness (which sadly means no dogs), but you can drive to admire the summit base-camp with pooch (Sand Flat/Bunny Flat) and you can go hike with doggie just about anywhere outside the main peak. We chose a super-scenic 2.2 mile route from Castle Lake to Heart Lake which not only offers two gorgeous mountain lakes, but also stunning views of Mt.Shasta and rolling blankets of low-lying snow (at least this time of year).
The latter drives Polly absolutely bananas giving her the snow “crazy runs” and us the benefit of a very tired doggie after the hike. Oh, and I have it on good authority from a local shaman that this happens to be an old indian hike which is (of course) a spiritual cleanser. So not only do your outer limbs get a work-out, but your inner being does too.
It’s simply the way of the mountain out here. I can’t tell you if the vortex took me in or my blood turned to wine, but I most definitely felt lifted. Groovy, baby.