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Published: September 27th 2007
Many people believe Mt. Shasta has supernatural powers, from the Native Americans known as the Shasta to the multitude of residents that make their home near the volcano today. Adherents to Hinduism, New Age beliefs and Buddhist monks are drawn to the volcano's serenity and imposing presence. So are outdoor enthusiasts, because at 14,200 feet Shasta is the 2nd largest volcano in the Cascades- so high most of the time is creates its own weather.
The Japanese religion of Shugendo, Lao Tsu and Hinduism all had it right- this mountain, like many other striking skyscrapers of stone, has some sort of spiritual energy that is hard to describe. I find anything on earth described as "Super-Natural" hard to swallow, as the separation between the spiritual and the physical realm is a western concept I have long felt is untrue. I love the father above,
his name is sky
I love the mother below,
her name is earth
each an equal,
a prequel to a sequel
neither one is good and neither one is equal
Frankly I was quite skeptical about Mt. Shasta being either jaw-dropping or enlightening. I was eager to find out, but first
I had to navigate my way through countless kilometers of forest and lava.
First stop? Subway Cave in Lassen National Forest. Formed by subterranean river of lava, the cave's walls were cooler than the lava river- so when the river drained it left a perfect hollow tube. Subsequent collapses of the roof allowed for natural entrances to the tube, and many of these lava tube caves exist across the volcanically shaped western United States.
I brought my tripod, some water and some food. Yes, the self-guiding trail was a scant .5 km long- but I really wanted to spend some quality time underneath the earth. Like all of my experiences inside caves, I lost track of time and found myself sitting down and waiting for the people, voices and lights to pass me by. The darkness and silence of the cave is at once haunting and enchanting! I scouted out several pictures, and spent probably 2 hours inside a cave most people take 20 minutes to stroll through. I loved every minute of it!
Next was a cursory stop at McArthur-Burney Falls State Park. I dried out my tent from the previous days storm at Lassen
NP. I went swimming in Lake Britton. I took a few pictures and a few minutes to gaze at the falls. A true miracle of nature, the river that makes up the falls magically appears from the lava beds on the surface of the earth several km's upstream. As the river makes its way downhill, it re-permeates into the lava, finally exiting over thousands of holes in the rock that makes up the cliffs of McArthur-Burney Falls. Some of the holes are small, some are large- and lots of the water pours over the lip of the cliff to a emerald blue pool.
In fact over 380 million liters of pure spring water each day gush from earth to form McArthur-Burney Falls. It's truly a sight that hypnotizes you to stay for much longer than you expected!
On to Shasta. I had reservations for a teepee at Stewart Springs resort. In the Mountains west of Mt. Shasta City, the waters of Stewart Springs are so rich in nutrients the water is almost soapy. The whole hot spring resort is a sacred collection of individuals and structures devoted to purifying the soul and respecting the people who enjoyed the
Lassen National Forest
spring in the past. I did the cursory dips- 15 minutes in the hot spring bathtub, a dip in the ice cold river and a sitting in the steam room. Repeat 4 times for each of the cardinal directions- and please leave your clothing behind! Freedom rings at Stewart Springs, and the body and mind are refreshed.
As the sun was going down, I felt something was happening I should miss out on. I grabbed my camera and headed for the plains, as Stewart Springs is set in a deep and forested canyon. I was impressed by Mt. Shasta on the drive in, but lots of clouds obscured most of my views.
As I rounded the bend to the fields of grass, the sight I saw was hard to believe- Mt. Shasta in all its glory, bathing in aura of pink clouds set on fire by the setting sun. The dusting of July snow from the previous days storm seemed to be blowing off of the west face of the volcano, creating a white halo. So here I had the object of everyones attention, the sacred Mt. Shasta.
The logical side of me was thinking how novel
the whole scene was- yellow fields giving way to green forests. The Forests gave way to the rocky slopes of the 4000 meter behemoth, which gave way to the snows and glaciers of the summit. High winds were blowing the snow into the air, a depression was forming in the bright pink clouds from Shasta creating its own wind patterns, and the colors were all made possible by the splitting of the spectrum of visible light from the sun setting through the atmosphere.
The sentient side of me sensed something else was at work here. Here I sat in front of a ice covered lava god beckoning me to give it my total attention. The facts of physics added up, yet the end result was greater than the sum of its parts. I can't say I was kneeling down and praying or having a religious experience by any stretch of the imagination- but this mountain is absolutely something special!
Stewart Springs: http://www.stewartmineralsprings.com
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