When I first caught sight of it I was 50 miles away and afoot, alone and weary. Yet all my blood turned to wine, and I have not been weary since.
John Muir of Mt Shasta, 1874
View from Mount Shasta at 6,000 ft. looking west, 1/24/16
Whether your blood turns to wine or not, it’s hard to deny the power of Mt. Shasta and the regenerative hangover of being in its presence. It brings all the senses to life in different ways. Where you are in position to the mountain, reorients the choreography of those senses. I love to dance with those feelings, as if my soul is viewing the scene through a kaleidoscope and slowly turning the lens.
Called a world “power center” at the Harmonic Convergence of 1987, Mt. Shasta calls equally to spiritual and environmental types. A well-known sacred site for Native American ritual, many a shaman have lead vision quests up the Mountain. The Mountain towers over the area at 14,179 feet, the fifth largest peak in California, and leaves visitors feeling heady in its presence. Because of its height, and stand-alone stature, climbers from all over the world come to hone their skills on the mountain getting back to the very base: man vs. nature.
Yet when I think of Mt. Shasta, it’s much more than the mountain itself or the individual’s world paradigm. It’s the entire vibe of the surrounding area. There’s the ski area with its high adventure feel. There’s the downtown on Mt. Shasta Boulevard where Soul Connections appears to be the most thriving business with a new add-on room of Native American flutes, gongs, buffalo drums and singing bowls the size of a small pond. (The owner was, of course, at the wholesale portion of the Tucson Gem Show–where I will be also in a few weeks–loading up his crystal collection.) There’s the feeling of magic and promise in the legends of Lemuria and Telos. And, there’s Lake Siskiyou in the shadow of the mountain with it’s own amazing feel of peace and renewal.
Where you stay when visiting this fascinating region really makes a difference when it comes to the feel of the trip. In the past, we have stayed closer to the base of the mountain. This time we wanted to try out Mount Shasta Resort after seeing one of their fantastic winter getaway packages advertised with a spa/dinner/lodging combo. I’m so glad we did. (Thanks, La’Ra, for the idea!)
Mount Shasta Resort (www.mountshastaresort.com) is located smack up against Lake Siskiyou just minutes from downtown, but with a remote, peaceful feeling. The beauty of this quiet lake adds a layer of calm around the chalets not felt in the other places we’ve stayed. This has been a snowy winter in Mt. Shasta (with about a ten foot base on the way to Bunny Flat at about 6,000 feet), but down at the lake recent rains have melted snow and made walking right up against the edge feasible. I even put my bare feet in the water and didn’t get frostbite.
The trail (both the graded and rustic) moves around the lake. From the cabins, accessing the rustic trail is a 2 minute walk. This is a step-over-the-manzanita-branch kind of walk with lots of sitty places to melt into nature. Reflection is the word that kept coming to mind. I could have spent the entire day walking the perimeter and soaking up the views.
The rivers are swollen with raging water from all the recent Nor Call weather. Check out the Sacramento River flowing out the other side of the dam. Having all this natural beauty a short walk from the property is a huge perk of the Mount Shasta Resort.
At the Resort itself, cabins are nestled in the towering evergreens and come in many types: large oversized hotel rooms (Woodland rooms), 1 bedroom chalets, 2 bedroom chalets and modest price increases for lake view choices. They also have all choices in pet friendly rooms for an extra $20 per night. Prices change throughout the season, but are very moderately priced as seen on their site. We stayed in the oversized Woodland Room (refrigerator, freezer, big screen, two sink bathroom) and toured our neighbor’s 2 bedroom cabin which was actually much nicer than the pictures look on the website. They have fully equipped kitchens. Our neighbor needed a special pan which the staff brought right over in time for breakfast making. The staff is both down to earth, funny, and professional. Though it’s called a resort and has all the amenities a resort has, it’s better than a resort because it’s so relaxed. Here’s their number: (800) 958-3363.
The cabins line a road called Chalet Way. At the top of Chalet Way, sits the Sacred Mountain Spa (www.sacredmountainresortspa.com). Rebecca Weston, spa owner, was accommodating and answered all questions I had to plan our best timing/experience. This cozy, two-room spa has this as their motto: treat yourself well. If you go here, that’s exactly what you’ll be doing.
When we walked in for our 4:30 appointments after exploring nature, they seemed so happy we were there which put us all on the same page. They offered up that intoxicating Mt. Shasta magic water with ice lemons–delicious! When I looked in the massage room with a fireplace, I fell in love. I tried to remember ever seeing one like this and I couldn’t. Such a great feel to the room. It’s hard to capture it in the picture, but here’s an offering.
When you get onto the table and snuggle underneath the high thread count sheets, the table is heated, relaxing every fiber immediately. My therapist, Jennifer A., was simply amazing. Her energy and perfect pressure made me call her “The Knot Whisperer” if only to myself because I’m not a “massage talker.” It was hard to distinguish between her hands and the hot stones because she moved them around with such expertise. Between the hot rocks, the delicious coconut oil mixed with various doTERRA essential oils, and the hot towels that kept appearing out of nowhere, I could barely speak through dinner. I was SO relaxed. (Just for the record, I’ve had monthly massages for 20 years AND went to massage school myself in Culver City at the Institute of Psychostructural Balancing or IPSB. I do know an awesome massage when I see one.) Call here for appointments and get the fireplace room: (530) 926-3030 ext. 180.
After showers back at the room, we set off to dinner back at resort headquarters. The property is spread out–you will need to drive back to base camp, especially when it’s cold out. The Mount Shasta Resort Restaurant is located on the second floor above registration. In the daytime, it offers a breathtaking view of Mt. Shasta and the surrounding golf course. In the night, well…check this out.
Isn’t that gorgeous? The full moon lit up the cold 25 degree night with the warming light like only the full moon can. Inside, the food was delicious (and we were so relaxed) we totally forgot to document for you. One of my favorite menu items, though, were the steamed clams. Amazing! Oh, and the chocolate cake. (Pretend we didn’t take a bite before we remembered to take the shot.) The restaurant has a casual feel (go ahead and wear your jeans and hiking boots) with upscale choices like filet mignon, chicken marsala, and the most delicious honey steamed baby carrots you can imagine! There are also vegetarian choices, like the stuffed portobella which sounded quite tasty.
The other great thing about the Mount Shasta Resort is all the great packages they provide. You can totally customize according to your group and their tastes. Also, several of the other people we talked to had gotten the weekend as a holiday gift. Great idea! (If anybody wants to get us the winter getaway package next year, we’re in!) I’d definitely like to return to this property in the Spring 2016 as this one promises to be FULL of wildflowers. Who wants to go?
No trip to Mt. Shasta is complete without a trip to The Goat (now known as Bistro 107) and the Headwaters. The water at the Headwaters is pure magic. The local beer and food at Bistro 107–magic in its own right. Bistro 107 offers intimate seating with a mean Reuben panini. In one of those Mt. Shasta synchronicities, we met a couple passing through from Portland to the San Fernando Valley (where my husband was born and raised) who were in “the industry.” They had bought a doublewide on 28 acres sight unseen off Craig’s List in 2006 for a getaway from Hollywood. We compared notes on who was going to win the Oscars (they actually get to vote-we just pretend we do). We talked about how we were mad at the Academy. We exchanged ideas on Netflix movies/series that are must sees, and talked about our mutual love for Sheriff Longmire. (The guy was originally from Wyoming so of course it came up.) That’s the kind of stuff that happens in Mt. Shasta.
Just a few minutes out of town up the Mountain, the world becomes eerily still, blanketed in snow. The tree families are flocked in their winter white. Just driving through you feel as if you are a part of a kingdom so much larger than you. It’s hard to do anything but stare with your mouth slightly agape as gentle flakes fall and melt against the windshield.
Even as I type this, trying to select the right image to capture this feeling, I feel like I come up short. The scene is just so mind-blowing. No people anywhere. Just untouched, almost-blue white blankets of snow. The sky is the same color, as if the only thing dividing snow and sky are forest-green trees as far as the eye can see. It’s hard to breathe remembering the scene. Simply breathtaking.
Imagine. And then, pick up the phone, treat yourself well, and go! You will be glad you did.