Saturday, May 19th
We decided to rest our weary shoulders and take our legs out for a walk around the countryside. After a light breakfast of re-hydrated fruit and a whey shake, we headed on a not-too-well-maintained Spatter Cone Loop Trail. The countryside is extremely rugged where black lava flows are still very much a part of the landscape. Although it was only about 82 degrees, the heat radiating from the flows made it seem much hotter.
We packed a lunch and took juices and plenty of water. Good thing we did, too. We hiked over 9 miles and it was pretty desolate. Beautiful though. Everything was in bloom–Indian paintbrush, larkspur, black-eyed susans (not sure if that’s it true name, but it reminded me of that.) other vivid pink flowers and daisies. Close to the lake it was boggy and lush with horse tails and other prehistoric looking plants. As we walked inland, the oaks, junipers and pine became more sparse, offering less shade. Rabbit and sage brush took the place of horsetail and marsh grasses. The mosquitoes were still with us, however.
At one point, we paused, hearing the high cry of an osprey warning. It was nesting unhappy with our presence. When we didn’t continue on, it rose from its nest and circled us once, before returning to its nest. We apologized to it and continued along our way, knowing it watched our movements until we were away from the site.
We saw no other wildlife, but plenty of signs…coyote scat, deer tracks, etc. It was very dry and very dusty, neither friendly nor pastoral. The rocks that we sat upon during our lunch break, huddled under a sparse juniper were pointy and rough. I do like this landscape. It’s so wild and raw with a spare beauty and rich extremes in color and texture. I just don’t like to be out in it for too long. I can feel my skin drying into leather, lips and fingers cracking. I am a creature of ferns, moss and fog.
At the spatter cone, we were greeted with lovely views of Mt. Shasta to the north and Mt. Lassen to the South.
Returning to camp, we rested and then refilled our water supply at the spring close to our camp. It was cool there, and as we filtered the water, I enjoyed watching the little water striders on the surface and the snake curled up under a rock under the water. When he didn’t think anyone was watching, he’d poke his little head up and take a breath of air.
During our stay there, I saw about 4 swimming snakes. I didn’t realize that this variety of snake could swim. It wasn’t poisonous, but still was rather disconcerting when they were swimming around in the lake. Didn’t make it that inviting. I supposed I’ve read to many books like Lonesome Dove where snakes were nasty things. In reality, I like snakes.
Before arriving at the park, I had visions of laying out on the banks of the lake or taking a restful swim in the waters, etc. Even packed a bathing suit. On the contrary, the banks are all rocky with that sharp lava stone. We got out a couple of times from the canoe, and it was hard to find decent footing as the loose rocks were covered over with grasses and your foot would sink into holes. A walking stick would come in handy. And if there were no rocks, it was muddy and reedy…habitat more suitable for ducks, muskrats and those swimming snakes.
The wind died down. There was a change of weather in the air. Jerry stopped by as we were filling our water and we discussed whether or not we’d be able to see the eclipse, deciding that what would be, would be.
Spent the evening in our tent away from the mosquitoes, playing yatzee. I had never rolled three yatzees in one game ever before. I was inflated with pride, ignoring the fact that it was all just dumb luck.
When I came out for my nightly pee break, the sky had cleared and the stars were breath taking. I got to enjoy my nightly pee breaks. Didn’t use my flashlight any longer and afterwards, I’d stand and just take it all in….the hooting owl and the stars.