Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Shasta Mine Trail - Redding

Whiskeytown Unit

Distance: 3.3 miles?????

Elevation: More than expected

Hiking time: 2 hours

Eric, Julie

Uncle Dave took me on this hike when I first got to Redding. We went on a cloudy morning and I so loved the little babbling brook and the view of Whiskeytown Lake, I thought that my friend Eric would love this place, so I was determined to do the hike with him.

Eric was busy trying to get out of town, but carved some time in the afternoon to do the hike. I picked him up and we drove out to Whiskeytown. The trail head is between the Glory Hole and the Whiskeytown Cemetery.

I didn't realize until we were on our way, how limited we would be on time and how reluctant to do this hike, Eric really was. I thought it would get better once we got going, but I should have listened to what he was telling me. He was a good sport about it during the whole hike.

The hike starts with a long climb up to the top of a ridge. It is steady and steep. We discussed not doing the whole loop, but Eric wanted sun and said he was willing to climb the ridge. About halfway up, he was already feeling the pain as he demonstrated in the photo. The fact that he was already sore from skiing, biking and shovelling rock - didn't help. This should have been a rest day rather than a hike day. However, I can be persistent so there we were.

As you climb the ridge - the view of Whiskeytown Lake unfolds to your right. The higher you go, the better the view. The picture doesn't capture it, but you can see the dam, the glory hole and lake in the distance.

Up, up, up we went. We'd think that we were at the top, but it was one of those misleading, never quite there hills. Eric would be moving slow, then burst into a jag of jogging up the hill. You all know how much I hate to run, but I was a good sport and would jog for a bit.

When we finally got to the top there is a clearing a campfire spot. So we sat around the campfire and caught our breath. The path continued uphill and the loop went down to the left. We discussed turning around and going down the hill - which would have been the appropriate thing to do, given our time frame. I wanted to do the loop so that Eric could see the stream and little waterfall. He thought about it and agreed to do the full loop.

We started down the path of the loop. I remembered that the rest of the hike was downhill. Eric was looking at the mountain sides and trying to figure which ridge we would be coming back on. How far is this hike? I don't look at the terrain, I just follow the trail. This was a difference between us on the entire hike. Eric paying attention to the terrain (such a guy thing to do), me just following the path we were on and not worrying about it.

We came up to a ridge and there was a great view of snow covered Shasta Bally. I had been talking about training for Killimanjaro and Eric said this hike was "Kill-em-on-Whiskeytown". We got a laugh out of that.

I kept promising Eric we would get to the stream, but he was beginning to question my judgement as trail navigator. He insisted if we ever went hiking again, we'd have a map. What lack of trust !

It was a hot day and we were in the sun for most of the hike. The terrain was dry chaparral until we got down to the water. Eric danced a jig at the thought I might know where the heck we were and that we weren't lost on the wrong trail.

We walked along next to the little stream. It is a pleasant little valley. We were looking for a nice watering hole. I remembered that there was a pretty little waterfall further up, so we kept walking. Eventually, we circled around to the pool. Time was ticking away and Eric was concerned about getting back, so we didn't stop.

Looking at the terrain, Eric insisted that we were going to have to climb back up out of the valley. I didn't remember a lot of uphill on this hike, other than the first part, but it turns out my memory wasn't so good. When we bike the River Trail - I always think of the far trail as flat, while Eric insists you are going uphill. Every time we started climbing up again Eric would be ready to strangle me and I would say - "this isn't uphill, it's flat". Just a difference of perception between us.

We passed an area of fire devastation from several years back that Eric was pretty sure had started as a controlled burn. We climbed another hill and had reached the flat space at the top where the old Shasta Mine shaft was located. Eric found a nice spot to rest. At this point his friend Chad called asking where he was since he was supposed to helping shovel rock. Eric explained that he was out in the middle of nowhere and was getting back as fast as he could. His friend was not amused.

I went to take a look at the old mine shaft. It isn't really much of a shaft, since it is all filled in with logs and debris. It is fenced off. This was once an active gold mine, but not much remains. A part of history of Shasta County that is long gone.

From here I think it was all downhill, but I could again be wrong. Let's just say it took longer than anticipated. We passed Whiskeytown Cemetery. If we had more time I would have liked to go there. The graves are all unique and really reflect the person. There are benches, wind chimes, memorabilia. It is quite touching.

We kept walking and finally there was the car waiting for us! We had survived to tell the tale.

I poured Eric into the car and drove him back to his car, so he could go shovel gravel for a couple of hours. Fortunately, he was still speaking to me and could appreciate the hike as the details faded into the distance.

I'm glad we did the hike and that I was able to show a Eric a part of Redding that he hadn't seen and probably won't see again.

My friend J.P. suggested that Eric join SPINACH: Society for Protection of Innocent, Naive and Coerced Hikers. It is a support group that J.P. started years ago with a now growing membership.

Lessons Learned: Uphill is a matter of perception. Flatness is a state of mind. Don't do the hike if you don't have the time.