Oftentimes when I visit these falls in the summer I see lots of young people diving or jumping off of the rocks into the pool, but on this day I saw no swimmers. Instead, I witnessed four young men fishing from the rocks by the waterfall.
The McCloud River is the traditional home territory of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. The Wintu name for the falls is Nurunwitipum, which means “falls where the salmon turn back.” During the warm summer season, there was a village here and the Winnemem Wintu fished and hunted around the Lower Falls. The McCloud continued to be rich in salmon, steelhead and native wild trout until the closing of the gates of Shasta Dam in 1943.
Since that time, salmon have been unable to migrate into the Upper Sacramento, Pit, McCloud and other tributary streams, eliminating a large portion of the best salmon habitat in the Sacramento basin. Shasta Dam also flooded 90 percent of the traditional territory of the Winnemem Wintu people.
Shasta Dam has provided a lot of electricity, facilitated water management, and provided jobs and recreational opportunities for the people of California, but my heart and tears pour out for the native Wintu people.
Nowadays, the gorgeous area continues to be a popular site for hiking, swimming, camping, and fishing. The river is stocked with rainbow trout for the licensed fishing public. I watched the young boy diligently fishing from above the falls.
As time went by, one of the fishermen assumed a more relaxed posture.
Meanwhile above the falls, visitors were enjoying hiking, walking their dogs, taking pictures, meeting one another and conversing.
As I was taking pictures a local resident came up to watch, wondering whether or not I might toss him a little treat.