Category Archives: Lake Britton

PG&E flying low to patrol for dead trees

From PG&E

REDDING, Calif.—As part of its response to California’s tree mortality crisis, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) will conduct low-flying helicopter patrols in Shasta, Tehama and Trinity counties on June 28 and 29 to identify dead trees that could pose a wildfire or other public safety risk.

On June 28, flights will occur over the eastern Shasta County communities of Big Bend, Lake Britton, Fall River Mills, Fall River Lake, Cassel, Hat Creek and Old Station.

On June 29, flights will occur from Platina in Shasta County to Wildwood in Trinity County, and over the Tehama County communities of Paynes Creek, Manton, Mill Creek and Mineral. Depending on clear weather conditions, flights will occur between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. for both days.

Residents are advised that the helicopter will fly low – about 200 to 300 feet – along distribution power lines, and higher in areas where livestock are present.

Even with the recent winter storms, five years of drought in California have caused millions of trees to die or become structurally compromised. That’s why we are taking extraordinary measures to help keep the communities we serve safe,” said Kamran Rasheed, manager, PG&E vegetation management.

Every year, PG&E patrols and inspects all 134,000 miles of its overhead electric lines. Since the tree mortality crisis began, the energy company has been inspecting trees along power lines in high fire-danger areas a second time, six months after its annual patrol because weakened trees can die quickly and could fall into power lines and cause an outage or fire.

Last year, PG&E conducted second patrols on 68,000 miles of power line, and in 2017, expects to patrol 73,000 miles of line a second time. The company will patrol about 10,750 of those miles by helicopter.  

PG&E is using a contract helicopter service to fly foresters over the area to inspect trees. Patrolling by air allows the company to cover many miles quickly and efficiently, and reduces impacts on the ground.

 

 

If patrols identify dead trees, PG&E will send inspectors on foot to verify a tree is dead, and then contact the home or land owner to schedule removal.

About PG&E

Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric energy companies in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with more than 20,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation’s cleanest energy to nearly 16 million people in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit www.pge.com/ and www.pge.com/en/about/newsroom/index.page.

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Filed under Big Bend, Burney Basin Days, Lake Britton, PG&E

PCT Season Coming

In late May, a trickle of trekkers begins to flow through the Intermountain area. This is the beginning of a stream of hikers making their way on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).

PCT sign in Burney Falls Park

The PCT is a 2,659 mile long trail from the U.S. border with Mexico just south of Campo, California to the Canada–US border on the edge of Manning Park in British Columbia. It passes through 25 national forests and 7 national parks.

The PCT was conceived by Clinton Churchill Clarke in 1932 and received official status as a National Scenic Trail in 1968 under the National Trails System Act of 1968. The trail was officially completed in 1993.

Thru hikers are those who make the journey all the way from Campo to the Canadian border. One of the first things that they do as they join the PCT community is choose colorful trail names by which they will be known throughout their journey.

Tapafla, 1 Gear, 6 Tacos, and Lo Flo at Burney Falls Park

The journey takes about five months. Hikers generally begin the first part of their journey through the desert of Southern California in April. In order to make it to Canada by late September, they need to establish a steady pace. The pace varies with each hiker but generally averages between 20 and 25 miles a day. A few energetic hikers hike up to 30 miles a day. Sometimes the hikers take a “zero” day to rest. On “nero” days, the hikers take it easy and don’t hike the full pace that they have set.

One of the sayings of the trail is “It’s not the miles, but the smiles.”

But it’s not all smiles. Even in the spring, the first part of the journey through the desert is hot. Many suffer from blisters. People develop strategies to beat the heat, often resting during the hottest part of the day and hiking at night.

The next leg of the trek is through the Sierras. Depending on the snow pack, each year is different. During the drought, the trail was passable early. Last year, there was more snow, which caused a log jam in the southern Sierras as people waited for the snow to melt. Streams were high and perilous to cross. The early hikers had to cross miles of snow and camp in the cold.

Some hikers, like the Brit Family Robinson, decided to “skip hike,” renting a car to drive north.

Brit Family Robinson at 299 crossing

The Brit Family Robinson had two of the youngest hikers on the trail last year, Pippy Longstocking, age 12 and Captain Obvious, age 10. Their father Christopher is an international trail guide who has hiked in the Himalayas, Mongolia, Alaska, and the Andes.

Other hikers, waiting for the snow to melt, congregated in towns and camps to rest and socialize. One 63 year-0ld hiker, Desert Steve from Henderson, Nevada, took the opportunity to go home and rest for two weeks before continuing on.

Desert Steve from Henderson, NV

Once the trail becomes passable, the backlogged flow of hikers streams through the Sierras. The highest altitude on the trail is 13,153 feet as it passes though Forester Pass.

After passing over the Sierras, the trail meets the Cascade Mountain range near Chester, California. This is the midpoint of the journey. Crossing over Mt. Lassen the hikers enter the Pit River Watershed area as they descend to Hat Creek at Old Station. Old Station Post Office is one of the places that hikers can pick up resupply packages sent to them from friends and family.

The Family – Farwalker, Thunderfoot, Widowmaker, and Spinner

The flow of hikers through the Intermountain area reaches its crest in July and early August. By that time the summer heat has hit our area. From Old Station, hikers transverse a thirty mile waterless stretch across Hat Creek Ridge to Cassel lake. This is one of the hottest driest stretches of the PCT.

Last year during the hot spell, a trail angel, Coppertone, set up his trailer on top of the ridge, where the trail crosses Bidwell Road to supply the hikers with water, fresh fruit, and ice cream floats. Coppertone is well known for his “trail magic.” He takes his trailer and sets up at locations all the way to Canada to minister to the hikers.

Dilly Dally and Coppertone on Hat Creek Ridge

Trail angels are important benefactors of the PCT. Angels provide food and water stashes, camping sites and lodging, rides to and from the trail and other help.  Another saying is “The trail provides.”

After crossing Hat Creek Ridge, the hikers come to Baum Lake. They can rest and get water at the Crystal Lake Fish Hatchery across the road.

Hikers rehydrating at Crystal Lake Fish Hatchery

Then the trail goes on to cross Hwy 299 where many hikers catch rides into Burney. Burney is a convenient place for hikers to rest, resupply, pick up packages, or even meet friends and relatives mid trail. Safeway, Dollar General, MacDonald’s, and Gepetto’s are some of the most popular stops. Some hikers like to take a day off to refresh and stay at local motels such as Burney Lodging.

Nancy Bobo with Sky Eyes at Burney Lodging

Burney has a lot of trail angels. People have learned to recognize the large packs that PCT hikers carry to differentiate them from other hitchhikers. From late July into early August not a day goes by that one doesn’t see hikers walking along the highway, frequenting the restaurants and stores, or sitting outside Burney lodging.

Many locals enjoy meeting the hikers and giving them rides. PCT season provides an opportunity to meet and talk with people from across the country and all around the world.

Jet Pack and Animal Style at the Alpine

One hiker from Israel named Animal Style left his Brooks Cascadia 11 Trail-Running shoes in a man named Bob’s truck when he got a ride into Burney. Animal Style was desperate. Good shoes are a necessity on a 2500 mile hike through rough terrain. After hours of searching, he was able to locate Bob and call him on the phone. Bob had returned home to Bieber but he drove all the way back to Burney to make sure that Animal Style had his shoes.

Ages of the hikers last year ranged from 9 years old to senior citizens. Most of the hikers are young college educated adventurers. Many have just finished school and are taking the opportunity to take the hike before beginning their careers or going on to graduate school.

One older hiker who came through last year was Donaju from Holywood, Northern Ireland. Donaju said he was a Royal Irish Ranger who had done eleven tours in Afghanistan. He had also served in a number of other hot spots. He was hiking the Pacific Crest Trail for the Wounded Warriors.

Irish Ranger Donaju

Several families hiked the trail together last year. Some seniors are taking a break to reflect on their life. Some hike for the challenge. Some hike to experience the diverse natural beauty and wildlife. In addition to thru hikers there are also local hikers and section hikers.

Section hikers hike only one section of the hike in a year. Then another year they may hike another section until they have hiked the entire trail.

One hiker named Sky Eyes said, ““When you hike the trail, you become a part of the Pacific Crest Trail family,” he said. “You meet different people from all over the world. You hike together with some of them. You camp together. You share food. Relationships are deeper than in normal life because you’re free from all of the business of the world. Everybody has the same needs.”

Some couples have met on the trail and later gotten married.

Since 2014 traffic on the trail has grown tremendously. Sky Eyes said that over 14,000 people hiked the trail last year.  One of the reasons more people are hiking is the release of the movie Wild starring Reese Witherspoon in December 2014. The movie is based on the 2012 memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed that reached No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list.

We are fortunate to have the world pass through Pit River country on the PCT. After crossing Hwy 299, the trail progresses though the woods to Lake Britton and Burney Falls Park. The park has a campground frequented by many hikers.

Leaving the Park, the trail goes for a ways down Pit River Canyon and up to Rock Creek Falls. Then the trail heads northwest to Dunsmuir and then north for many more adventures in the Oregon and Washington Cascades.

Get ready, PCT season is coming.

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Filed under Baum Lake, Bieber, Burney, Burney Falls, Cassell, Crystal Lake, Hiking, Lake Britton, Old Station, Pacific Crest Trail, Pit River

Tribal Youth Program teaches knowledge and skill

Photos courtesy of Lomakatsi Restoration Project

This July, ten young members of the Pit River Tribe ranging in age from 14-18 participated in a month long work and training program. The project combined science and cultural education with work to restore the ecology of the wild trout area of lower Hat Creek.

Tribal Youth, Elders, and Program Partners on opening day of the Pit River Tribal Ecosystem Workforce Training Program

Tribal Youth, Elders, and Program Partners on opening day of the Pit River Tribal Ecosystem Workforce Training Program

The Pit River Tribe, Lomakatsi Restoration Project, and Cal Trout cooperated to make the project a success. Cal Trout provided a grant to pay for the program. Pit River Tribe elders, cultural representatives and environmental technicians instructed the youth in Traditional Ecological Knowledge. Lomakatsi managed the program and employed the youth, providing technical expertise and professional mentors in ecological restoration.

The project included a full schedule of educational and hands-on activities.

The young people spent a week at a science camp at the College of the Siskiyous in Weed learning about the waterways, flora, and the fauna of the area.

The work project on Hat Creek involved trail improvement, restabilizing the banks, and helping to restore the natural oak environment along the creek. Belinda Brown, Tribal Partnership Coordinator for Lomakatsi Restoration Project, organized the work crews, picking up the young workers in the morning at the Safeway store and supervised their activities thoughout the day.

Trail improvement along Hat Creek

Trail improvement along Hat Creek

The group also visited Ajumawi Springs to study and repair fish traps.

Ginger Mike, Cultural Representative of the Ajumawi Band, shared about the importance of cultural resource protection and sacred sites.

Ginger Mike shares about the importance of cultural resource protection and sacred sites

Ginger Mike teaching about cultural resource protection and sacred sites

Participants learned about traditional foods such as pine nuts. The Hat Creek Ranger Station also addressed the group. In addition, the young people received some instruction in Achomawi language.

As a complement to learning traditional Pit River environmental technology, the young people were also treated to a day of fly fishing. Michelle Titus hosted the group at Clearwater Lodge and Drew Braugh from Cal Trout and three guides taught the young people fly fishing techniques.

Toward the end of the program the group was joined by tribal youth from the Ashland area in Southern Oregon. Radley Davis, Cultural Practitioner of the Illmawi Band, led a workshop teaching the young people to make a dugout canoe from a giant cedar tree trucked over from Old Station.

Dug out canoe workshop

Dug out canoe workshop

The program concluded with a visit by the combined youth programs to Burney Falls a traditional sacred site of the Illmawi Band of the Pit River Tribe.

Tribal Youth Project at Burney Falls

Tribal Youth and Ashland Youth Programs at Burney Falls

The Pit River Tribe is a sovereign federally recognized Native American Tribe consisting of 11 autonomous bands, whose homes and properties are distributed throughout the Upper Pit River watershed in northern California for time immemorial. The tribe contributed immensely to the success of the project.

“Protection and preservation of the cultural and environmental resources helps the tribe maintain sovereign jurisdiction over the tribe’s ancestral lands,” Chairman Gemmill said. “The partnerships have been able to provide economic and educational opportunities for the people.”

Lomakatsi in the Hopi language means “life in balance.” The Lomakatsi Restoration Project is a non‐profit, grassroots organization that develops and implements forest and watershed restoration programs and projects in Oregon and Northern California. Since 1995, Lomakatsi has formed collaborative partnerships with a broad range of partners including federal and state land management agencies, Native American Tribes, The Nature Conservancy, land trusts, private landowners, watershed councils, and city and county governments.

“Inspiring young people to pursue careers focused on the stewardship of forests, waterways and wildlife habitat is an important part of our mission,” Lomakatsi Executive Director Marko Bey said. “Traditional Ecological Knowledge is vital to successful ecosystem restoration.”

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Filed under Ajumawi State Park, Burney, Burney Falls, Hat Creek, Lake Britton, Pit River Tribe

Pit River Country – Beauty in the Spring

Just want to share a few pictures Linda and I took driving through Burney Falls State Park and out Clark Creek Road.

After visiting the Intermountain Teen Center for their “Bring a Friend Barbecue,” Linda and I decided to go on a short photo-shoot.

Because there was construction between Burney and Johnson Park, we headed up Black Ranch Road.

Ranch off Black Ranch Road

Ranch off Black Ranch Road

We turned on Clark Creek Road and drove at a slow pace through the park, pulling over to let speeding vehicles pass. Then we stopped for awhile by the dam. Because we have had a lot of rain, everything is lush. It’s flowering time and the lilacs by the lake were in bloom.

Lilacs by the lake

Lilacs by the lake

This oak tree had some interesting growths.

Strange growth on an oak tree

Strange growth on an oak tree

We drove up to four corners and headed down to the Old Ferry Crossing.

Lake Britton from the Old Ferry Crossing 2

Lake Britton from the Old Ferry Crossing

There were some interesting tracks in the mud.

animal track

animal track

We sat in silence for five minutes. A butterfly was flitting across the beach.

Butterfly by Lake Britton

Butterfly by Lake Britton

The wild roses were in bloom.

wild rose

wild rose

We continued up Clark’s Creek Road to 89. On the way we saw five deer.

Deer in the woods

Deer in the woods

Then we headed back to Burney. The construction was done. The road was clear. A refreshing drive. Some might say, “Nothing special,”

But I think that in this beautiful area, everything is special.

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Filed under Burney, Lake Britton, Wildlife

Did we get a White Christmas? You decide…

This year a lot of people in Pit River Country were hoping for a White Christmas. How lovely it is to experience the serene beauty of silent woods draped in snow. Somehow it complements the Christmas spirit in a very special way. The world seems to be peacefully asleep like baby Jesus in the manger. The inner joy and hope of the nativity are strengthened because the sun has passed its nadir and turned north again. The days gradually begin to brighten.

This year in particular we have been hoping for a good snow-pack to alleviate the drought.

Mt. Burney on December 5. The snow pack has continued to build since then.

Mt. Burney on December 5. Lots more snow since then.

The week before Christmas, we had  a lot of rain in Burney. I took a drive up Hatchet Mountain and down Big Bend Road. In spite of the rain, there was still a lot of snow. I could see a line of white about five hundred feet above Burney all around.

So, back to the question: Were we blessed with a White Christmas? If you live above 4000 feet the answer is definitely yes. For those of us who live in Fall River Valley, Burney Basin and around Hat Creek, I will let each person answer for themself.

One thing is certain though. On the morning of Christmas Eve day, when Linda and I woke up and looked out the window, everything was cloaked in a blanket of white.

View from our back yard in Burney

View from our back yard in Burney

Linda and I decided to drive Clark’s Creek Road from Hwy 89 through Burney Falls State Park, over Lake Britton Dam, up to Clark’s Creek Lodge and on to where the road rejoins 89 between Bartle and Four Corners.

As we drove over Burney Creek, we could see that the creek bed, which only a short time ago was dry, is now full and flowing forcefully.

Burney Creek from Clark's Creek Road

Burney Creek from Clark’s Creek Road

We proceeded on into the park.

Driving into the park on Clark Creek Road

Driving into the park on Clark Creek Road

When we came to the back entrance to the park we decided to take a little jaunt down the trail to the falls. The trees were sill laden with snow.

Trail into Burney Falls Park

Trail into Burney Falls Park

Pacific Crest Trail was covered with snow. We made our way down to the foot bridge over Burney Creek.

Burney Falls through the trees

Foot Bridge over Burney Creek above the falls

Then, awed by the winter beauty we proceeded down to a spot where we could get a picture of the falls through the trees.

Burney Falls through the trees

Burney Falls through the trees

Everything was lovely. As the temperature rose, walking under some of the large evergreens we were showered by the snow dripping off of the branches.

Linda took a picture of me

Linda took a picture of me

I took a picture of Linda.

Linda may take a picture of you

Linda may take a picture of you

We didn’t feel like hiking the whole Burney Falls loop. We wanted to continue on the road and explore more. So we got back in the Jeep, drove across the dam and headed through the winter wonderland to Clark’s Creek Lodge.

Clark's Creek Lodge

Clark’s Creek Lodge

One of the things that surprised me was that there was no longer a “for sale” sign on the lodge, just a “closed” sign. Did somebody buy it? Linda peered through the window and saw that all of the tables were laid out with nice red-checked table cloths set with plates and silverware. The salt and pepper shakers were full. Is Clark’s Creek Lodge back in business?

That would be nice. The Lodge has a rich history going back to 1921. Word has it that in the 1930’s and 40’s it was a popular hideout for gangsters on the lam. My mom used to tell me that Al Capone even stayed there at one time. Who knows?

I do know that over the decades it was a favorite place for my family to go eat. One time my mom and grandmother went, expecting to be seated at their regular table. When they got there however, it was already full. Clint Eastwood and his party had already occupied the spot. When Mr. Eastwood saw that my mom and Grandma Jay were disappointed, he rose like a gentleman and offered to move. Naturally, my kin, a bit in awe, declined.

Having fished up these and other memories, Linda and I continued on our way, rising through the oaks until we came to a place where we could shoot Lake Britton.

View of Lake Britton from Clark's Creek Road

View of Lake Britton from Clark’s Creek Road

Then we hit Hwy 89 and headed home. By sunset, the ground was still covered with snow, but the white that had graced the trees in the morning had melted away in the afternoon sun.

That evening, at a friend’s house, we discussed whether or not we could consider it a White Christmas if there were snow on the ground but not on the trees. As I said earlier, I will let you decide for yourselves.

As for Linda and me, we had our White Christmas.

 

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Filed under Burney, Burney Falls, Hiking, Lake Britton, Pacific Crest Trail, Pit River Area History, Weather

What is Pit River Country?

The Pit River is the largest river system in Northern California. It  flows from Goose Lake north of Alturas to the Sacramento River near Redding. As it flows toward the Sacramento, it is fed by 21 named tributaries. All together the system totals more than 1000 miles of streams and consists of a watershed of about 4,324

"PitRiverMap" by Background layer attributed to DEMIS Mapserver, modified by Shannon1 - Background from http://www2.demis.nl/mapserver/mapper.asp. Licensed under GFDL via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:PitRiverMap.jpg#/media/File:PitRiverMap.jpg

“PitRiverMap” by Background layer attributed to DEMIS Mapserver, modified by Shannon1 – Background from http://www2.demis.nl/mapserver/mapper.asp. Licensed under GFDL via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:PitRiverMap.jpg#/media/File:PitRiverMap.jpg

square miles. On the maps of the earliest fur traders it was known as the Upper Sacramento.

When it passes Fall River Valley, it is fed by the springs of Ajumawi State Park and the Fall River. Then, at Lake Britton, it is fed by Hat Creek, which flows from MT Lassen down through Hat Creek Valley; and Burney Creek, which flows through Burney and Black Ranch and then over the falls in McArthur-Burney Falls State Park. After that, it flows down to Big Bend, where there are wonderful hot springs.

I call the land and the communities in this watershed Pit River Country. It corresponds to the traditional lands of the Pit River Tribe. Some of the towns in this region are Burney, Fall River Mills, McArthur, Old Station, Montgomery Creek, Round Mountain, and Big Bend.

 

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Filed under Ajumawi State Park, Big Bend, Burney, Burney Falls, Fall River, Fall River Mills, Hat Creek, Johnson Park, Lake Britton, McCloud River, Montgomery Creek, Pit River, Pit River Area History, Pit River Country Events, Pit River Tribe

Halloween hike at Burney Falls

Personally, I think that the Falls Loop trail at McArthur-Burney Falls State Park is one of the most enjoyable hiking trails that there is. It’s not a hard hike but it is good exercise. The trail is about 1.3 miles long. It is beautiful in all seasons.

Burney Falls in Autumn

Burney Falls in Autumn

On October 31, I decided to hike the trail to catch a glimpse of some of the fall foliage. I used the free public parking area on Clark’s Creek Road to enter.

Burney Falls in Autumn

Burney Falls in Autumn

Some people feel that entering the park without paying the $8 entry fee at the main entrance to the park on Hwy 299 is a bad thing. However, technically, admission to the park has been free since the land was sold to the State of California for one dollar by the McArthur family in the 1920’s.

The McArthur family basically gave the park to the State of California to protect the falls and the surrounding area from the hydroelectric development that was being planned for the Pit River. One stipulation was that the park remain free and open to the public in perpetuity.

When people drive into the park and stop at the gate to pay fees, they are paying parking and camping fees. The fees go to pay for upkeep and maintenance of the park, so that is a good thing and a lot of people are happy to pay to help contribute. If people hike into the park, however, there is no entry fee.

I entered the Park, crossed the Pacific Crest Trail that also runs through the park, and headed down to the bridge that crosses Burney Creek above the falls.

Bridge above the falls

Bridge above the falls

After crossing the bridge I took a few photos of the fall foliage and headed across the falls overlook to the main parking area.

Upper brige

Upper bridge (14)

The visitor’s center was closed for the season. They closed after the park’s Heritage Day celebration. I saw a park ranger and went over to talk with him. His name was Ranger Dan. He was a very likeable fellow who gave me a map and explained how to get to the Pioneer Cemetery Trail which leads to the Pioneer Cemetery and Cemetery Cove on Lake Britton.

I’ve been wanting to see the marker at the cemeteries that commemorate a number of the early settlers who lived along the Pit River near the falls in bygone days.

Before the white people came to the area in the mid-1800’s, this was the Burney Falls in Autumn (2)territory of the Ilmawi, a branch of the Achomawi people. In the 1860’s John and Catherine McArthur bought a lot of land. They opened a store. Eventually, a small community named Peck’s Bridge developed along the Pit supported by local family farms.

The Cemetery trail is three miles down and back. It was already past 2 p.m and the days are getting short so I decided to do it in the future and instead continue along the Loop Trail.

From the beautiful vista point near the visitor’s center the trail descends in a hatchback manner down to the base of the falls. As one hikes down a well maintained path one is treated to a wonderful series of breathtaking views of the falls.

Burney Falls in Autumn (5)

One of the things that I love about hiking the loop is the wonderful people that I meet. As I hiked down I was amazed to see a group of hikers from Mt Shasta with young boy dressed in a Mickey Mouse costume.

Micky Mouse and family at Burney Falls

Mickey Mouse and family at Burney Falls

This was personal for me because I had recently painted a small picture of Mickey Mouse at Burney Falls for a friend.

Mickey Mouse by Burney Falls

Mickey Mouse by Burney Falls

“It’s Mickey Mouse!” I exclaimed as I approached the hikers. I introduced myself to the young boy’s mother. Her name was Lilly Rivera. Her son’s (Mickey Mouse) name is Adrian Rivera Jr. Hiking with them were Brianna and Julien Reyes. They had moved to Mt. Shasta in January. She said this was their first chance to come to Burney Falls and they loved it.

I traveled down to the bottom of the falls. Here one can experience the full power of the falls as the torrent descends and the mist sprays up into one’s face. In the summer some hikers like to plunge into the pool for a very brief but exhilarating dip. The water which is flowing over the falls from subterranean sources is between 40 and 50 degrees.

Burney Falls in Autumn (12)

 

I did it once several years ago and got out almost as quickly as I could get in. The currents created by the falls are extremely powerful.

Another experience that fills one with awe is to sit on the rocks by the water and just take it in. In the past, sometimes I would sit on a rock where the water from the pool flows into the creek to continue it’s journey to Lake Britton. There the water is as clear as glass and flowing at an incredibly powerful rate equal to the force of the water flowing over the fall. Staring into it, I would imagine what it would like to merge into such a flow. You couldn’t fight it.

“Just go with the flow.” I thought. Try to avoid the rocks and keep your head above water until you reach a place of calm. I would imagine riding the current all the way down to Lake Britton and then resting in the calm waters thinking “Wow!”

Well, imagination is one thing and physical reality is another.

After enjoying the view of the falls, I proceeded down the trail that follows the

Burney Falls from down the trail (2)

Burney Falls from down the trail (2)

stream. I met another young ranger taking one of his last hikes in the park for the season. I asked him if he would be working indefinitely at the park. He said, “Actually, I’m going to be laid off In two days.”

Every year the park reduces its personnel in the winter.

I continued down the trail. Here in the heat of the late spring and summer one often sees brown squirrels, lizards, butterflies and dragonflies dancing about. But today was quiet and serene. At this point I was able to enjoy the beauty of the Burney Creek and the serenity of the woods.

Because this is a state park, it has not been logged as extensively as the surrounding area. As I walked by the stream I could experience the grandeur of old growth Ponderosas and the Douglass Firs, many of which are five hundred years old.

Old growth (2)

Old growth

The trail follows the scenic creek down to an old arched bridge. Here one can get beautiful views and pictures both up and down the creek.

Lower Bridge

Lower Bridge

At this point one is also confronted with choices. Do I hike back the way I came? Do I continue down Burney Creek trail to Lake Britton? Do I cross the bridge and hike down the other side of the Creek on the Pacific Service Employees Association (PSEA) trail? Or do I continue on the loop and go back up to the Pacific Crest Trail from whence I came?

That’s one of the wonderful things about McArthur-Burney Falls Park. In addition to the falls, Lake Britton has boating, swimming and bass fishing. The creek is stocked with trout. There are campgrounds, cabins, activities, and amenities. There are also great trails to hike. Beyond the trails that I have mentioned, there is also the upper loop trail that goes to the headwaters of Burney Falls passing the springs where hundreds of millions of gallons of water emerge into Burney Creek. This trail leads to a third bridge that crosses to the Pacific Crest Trail and leads back down to the entrance point where I came into the park.

Furthermore, adjacent to the Park there is now a new trail, the Great Shasta Rail Trail that goes from the old Burney depot and leads to the “Stand By Me” railroad tressel crossing Lake Britton. Burney is a great area for hiking.

bench

I crossed bridge and sat down on one of the benches to look at the creek and take pictures. Along the trail there are several of these benches. Each one has a cool philosophical thought or poetic statement.

I decided to continue on the loop. This side of the trail does not proceed at creek level. It gradually ascends the bank back to the top of the falls making for a nice walk through the woods with scenic glimpses of the creek below.

Burney Creek below the falls (9)

Burney Creek below the falls (9)

As one nears the end of the ascent, one gets another view of the falls.

Burney Falls (3)

As I shot some pictures I was joined by four visitors from San Francsico. As I said before, I enjoy meeting people on the trail. The world comes to Burney Falls. One of the reasons I like it is that it gives me a chance to practice different languages.

In this case the people were of Asian descent. So I took a chance and said, “Ni shou zhong wen?”

Because my Mandarin pronunciation is not very good, he looked at me quizzically. Then recognition glimmered in his eyes and he pointed to one of the young ladies accompanying him.

“Ni shou zhong wen?” I repeated. The Chinese-American girl looked surprised.

“A little.” she replied.

“Ah! Yi dian!”

“Yes. yi dian,” she said.

The man said, “I am Korean.”

“Oh, An nyumg ha shim ni ka!” I said.

They were all surprised that I spoke a little Korean too. I told them that I didn’t want to be a prisoner of the English language. If we want to navigate our way through the global transformation we are experiencing toward a more peaceful world, we need to understand each other.  Only one-tenth of the people in the world speak English. The different cultures in the world are encoded within their languages, so I’m trying to learn them.

We chatted for awhile and then departed amidst a cacophony of cheerful good-byes in various languages.

Burney Creek above the falls

Burney Creek above the falls

A bit further up the trail, I stopped at another of the benches and was greeted by three handsome woman hiking up the trail. One of them spoke with a British accent. Another was from Norway.

When they said they were up for the day from Redding, I surmised that they were students from Bethel Church. They were. I told them that a friend of mine and his wife had recently attended a healing service there.

I’ve never attended Bethel, but I love meeting their members on my various strolls through the woods. I often do because they like to come up to Lassen, Burney falls and other scenic places to explore the area. They are always cheerful and they like to pray. So, uplifted by the beautiful environment I often pray with them.

In this case, the ladies were wondering what other places they could visit. I told them how to get to Baum Lake, advising them that there are often American White Pelicans there.

They went on up the trail. Shortly afterward though, as I was leaning over the rail taking pictures of the upper stream, I saw them returning with another man. Turns out the Norwegian woman had been inspired with the thought that, since I had mentioned the healing meeting, perhaps I had some ailment I would like them to pray for.

So they all prayed for my knee, holding their hands over it and sending our God’s love. Then  one lady who was a bit more serious prayed that all lies would be removed from my mind and replaced with truth. She had me repeat the words after her. I have no objection to lies being replaced with truth so I gratefully complied.

I told the Norwegian woman that my grandmother, Justina Wiborg Berry, had been born in Oslo. When she heard that my grandmother was a Wiborg she said she had read ia book  written by Julie Wiborg in Norway and wondered if I was related. The answer to that was “I don’t know.” I’ve lost the connection.

My grandmother had a big book tracing all of our ancestors back to the 15th century when they had come from a town named Wiborg in Finland as merchants, but I had been unable to find the book. I also told them that my great grandfather had been a member of the king’s guard and that my grandmother had been Prince Olaf’s dancing partner for a season when she was a debutante.

So one of the ladies felt inspired to pray that I find my grandmother’s book. I hope I do.

The reason that I have gone on at such lengths about these encounters is to illustrate that going out for a hike is not only a healthy, uplifting natural experience, but a social, cultural and spiritual event as well. Several times, I have had people contact me months after I met them because of a conversation that occurred.

After the group from Bethel left, it did seem that the colors were a bit brighter. I got some nice pictures of the light coming through the trees and of Burney Creek above the falls.

Burney Creek just above the falls

Burney Creek just above the falls

Finally, I headed back up the hill to my car, happy that I had taken my Halloween hike.

 

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