Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Town of Mount Shasta

Arriving in Mount Shasta, Happy Nomad first brought Freebird and me to a motel run by a friendly Indian couple. They allowed us to look at their rooms, and we decided that they weren't for us. Even though we were to go elsewhere, the couple still kindly allowed us to go through the hiker box. We found things we really needed, like Heet, Dr. Bronner's soap, and a new pair of women's shorts.

Then Happy Nomad drove us to one more motel. We met Andy at the front desk, a friendly and hilarious man. We were satisfied with the room and he gave us a lower rate. Once he knew that we had a place to stay, Happy Nomad drove off to spend the night in a different town.

Then we ran into Beer once again! He had some things to do first, and then afterwards we would meet up for some lunch at an AYCE pizza buffet. "Buffet and AYCE" -  some words that any long-distance hiker loves to hear!

On the way there, Freebird and I stopped by a commune and greeted the residents. They were all very sweet and seemed to be happy living in this town. Two children, Hayley and Aurora, came out to meet us. Before we left, Hayley said she had something to give us. She disappeared into the house for a minute and emerged with a beautiful yellow rose, handing it to me. How sweet!

In front of the commune was this grateful tree, displaying Yogi tea messages and other little items.
Welcome to Mount Shasta! Black Butte rises in the background.

Mount Shasta, obscured by clouds.

Round Table, complete with pizza buffet and salad bar!

Freebird and Beer.

The food was so delicious! The workers adored us hikers and were amazed at how much food we could consume. It got to the point that they were calling us up when fresh pizzas, cheesesticks, and cinnasticks were brought out. Then they laughed and teased us when we couldn't eat any more.

After lunch Freebird and I met a huge group of children in the parking lot, part of some camp program. A few of them were kicking a soccer ball around. All of them were excited about the adventures to come. One of the counselors, a woman who thru-hiked the PCT before with the trail name, "Swiss Miss," told us that they were heading to the Lost Coast Trail in California. We kept this trail in mind, as we knew we were going to get off of the PCT soon and travel over to the Pacific. One girl began talking about photography with me and asking for advice about college classes. She then requested that I give her a trail name. I chose "Gazelle," since she loves to run, and she gladly accepted. Soon, several others were surrounding me, asking for trail names as well!

Berryvale, the local health food store that has the best ginger ale ever and is a place to meet some rather interesting locals.
Steve, of Shasta Base Camp. We hung out in front of his store all afternoon while doing laundry.

A thrift store nearby has a huge free bin the size of a dumpster, just outside its doors. 
I watched the locals coming and going, eagerly searching its contents. This bin was handy for us, 
so that we could change and wash all of our clothes at the laundromat. And I ended up choosing 
to hike in this awesome Mexican soccer jersey for the next week!

Banana Boat, Neon, me, and Freebird modeling our free clothes in front of Shasta Base Camp. 
We met these two eccentric hikers on the trail just before arriving in town, and it was wonderful to see them again! Also, Neon kindly gave us some food to take along with us on the trail!

The main drag in Mount Shasta.

On the way to the library, we stopped at this thrift store because they had cats up for adoption. The oldest and gentlest one was named Tripper, and there were also several mischievous kittens. I wanted so much to take one with me. At least we got to visit them for awhile. They really appreciated that.

 When I was in the library, Freebird wandered around Sisson Meadow, meeting the friendly locals. After the library closed, he showed me around. I was hoping to be introduced to a woman he spoke of named "Love Flame," but she was already gone. We did encounter Benjamin and Lisa, who were sitting on a bench and chatting about metaphysical topics. Lisa was visiting the town and had been spending the day with Benjamin, a local resident.

We picked some apples in the meadow and then walked over to the railroad tracks, 
where an abundant blackberry patch was growing along a fence.

From the berry patch, we watched the sunset and the final glow of light on Mount Shasta.

Back to the meadow, to watch the last of the sunset!

We met these friendly Japanese women who were visiting to attend classes with a spiritual teacher. Lisa was still in the meadow and took this picture of us. She was searching for a place to stay the night. We offered her the extra bed in our room, but she ended up choosing to get a different room but to be our motel neighbor that night. We walked from the meadow to her car, and she drove us to the grocery store. We just had to get some ice cream!

Another photo courtesy of Lisa.
After checking into her motel room, Lisa came over to visit us. We stayed up late that night talking. Before leaving, Lisa generously offered us a gift from a wizard in her hometown, some magic pens.

The playful spirit of Mount Shasta is visible everywhere.
The following day, the buffet called out to us once again! The workers were very happy to see us for the second time! One woman offered us a punch card. We told her that we would be leaving soon and would probably never use it for anything. What she ended up doing was stamping it for our meals the day before (including Beer's), our meals that we just purchased that day, and then a few more. Now we were able to get a free meal. Then guess who walks in the door just a few minutes later?

Happy Nomad! For all the love he showed us, for taking care of us, he deserved to have a free meal!

Going on a cinnasticks binge. Every time a fresh batch was ready, I devoured a bunch. 
And then I overindulged. Yes, I had to do a purge. Freebird will tell you differently, 
but I did not go back for more!

One last view of Sisson Meadow before leaving Mount Shasta.

We walked back to the town to have one last dinner at Express Burger.

On the way there, we crossed paths with Christopher and Lisa again! Lisa would be heading northward soon and leaving Mount Shasta. She said goodbye to Christopher, joined us at Express Burger, picked blackberries with us, and then offered a ride out of her way (in the opposite direction) to Castle Crags State Park, where we would continue on the PCT with Kayla.

Lisa's travelling companion.
We arrived in Castle Crags as the sun was setting, got some food from the market, 
and made it to our campsite, all thanks to Lisa. She and all the kind-hearted people 
of Mount Shasta really enriched our experience there. What a beautiful town!

That night we slept peacefully and awoke the next morning to welcome Kayla along for the journey.

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