Get Out There
● By Patrick John
Q97 SnapshotSeptember 2015
By Patrick John
"Most human beings have an infinite capacity for taking things for granted."
-writer and philosopher Aldous Huxley
That’s exactly what I’ve been doing. I’ve lived in Northern California for 24 years, and recently realized that for no apparent reason, I haven’t taken advantage of many of the places and activities our beautiful area has to offer. Time to organize and make a list…
Ask a friend from outside the area what they’ve heard about where we live, and you get answers like, “It’s hot” or “I know you have the Sundial Bridge.” Next time that happens, ask them a few more questions, like, “Have you rafted the Trinity River? Have you hiked Lassen under a full moon? What about reclining, putting your head back, looking up, and exploring the murals at the Cascade Theatre before a show?” I got two out of three…and you? We are more, we have more, so let’s do more!
Falls are always fun…waterfalls, that is. My nonscientific poll of folks in the office says more than half have not been to Whiskeytown Falls. I’ll allow a few passes here because the Carr Trail to the falls isn’t for everyone. Bring water, maybe a walking stick, and if need be, make use of the benches along the way. No excuses, though, for not seeing Burney Falls! You can view what they term “The Eighth Wonder” right from the top of the parking lot, take a short path to the bottom, or take a 1.3-mile hike. There are about 50 waterfalls in the area, including a few more at Whiskeytown, on the trail to Castle Crags, Cedar Creek Falls off Highway 299 East, and the impressive Potem Falls near Montgomery Creek.
Performing a few times plus emceeing dozens of concerts at the Cascade Theatre means we’ve seen the inner workings of an amazing venue. Every time we host a concert, I ask for a show of hands from those visiting the Cascade for the first time. Still getting a lot of hands, so go see a show (Marty Stuart, Jonny Lang, North State Symphony, Cascade Christmas and Celtic Christmas are a few to consider before we ring in 2016). Amazing sound, an impressive total Art Deco restoration, plus those amazing ceiling murals dripping with gold and silver leaf make for a great night out.
So many more…so little page space…
Full moon Lassen Peak hike - Guided full moon hikes are no longer offered, but it’s totally doable with a little pre-planning. Lassen Park’s website recommends taking in the sunset and full moon on the same hike.
Parts of Castle Crags look like a movie creation. Hikes range from moderate to difficult. The view from the top gives you a breathtaking vantage point of forests, lakes, Lassen Peak, Mt. Shasta and the Cinder Cone.
The Shasta Dam tour. It took me 20 years to take the tour, and I enjoyed it so much, I took it twice in one summer. This feat of engineering and construction is full of hidden facts and surprises (how many bodies were buried in the 6.5 million cubic yards of concrete used to build the dam? You’ll find out!). The guides are fun, they know their stuff, and you get a unique perspective of the dam by descending more than 400 feet directly through it. Oh yeah, and it’s free.
Shasta Lake houseboating and the tour of Shasta Caverns are staples. I don’t think you should be allowed to claim you’re a true resident of the North State unless you check these off your list. By the way, there’s PLENTY of water for recreation on Lake Shasta. Don’t let the view from above fool you.
Did you know we have a pair of monasteries in Northern California? Check out The Abbey of New Clairvaux in Vina for a day visit or retreat. The Trappist monks there also work the land’s orchards and vineyards, specifically tending to grapes for prized New Clairvaux wines. The St. Herman of Alaska Monastery in Platina also welcomes day visitors and overnighters and holds regular services. Both monasteries have a host of items for sale to support their operations. Both can be found online.
I’m out of page space, so we’ll just have to keep making our own lists. Let’s make a conscious effort not to take our friends, family or this gorgeous part of the world for granted. By the way, does anybody need a hiking partner?