Category Archives: Waterfalls

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.

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Burney, Burney Falls, Lake Britton, Pacific Crest Trail, Pit River, Pit River Area History, Pit River Tribe, Waterfalls

Heritage Day shares the past

Heritage Day at McArthur-Burney Falls State Park was an amazing pageant of life, music and culture in the late 1800’s . The event, sponsored by the McArthur-Burney Falls Interpretive Association in partnership with CAL PARKS,  took place on October 11 in the woods between the new visitor’s center and the park store just a few minutes walk from beautiful Burney Falls

Burney Falls

Burney Falls

On Heritage Day, parking and admission are free. My wife Linda and I arrived shortly after noon and already the upper parking lots were filled.  We were directed down the road toward Lake Britton. Along the way we were greeted by friendly members of the Burney Lions who guided us into a maze of campgrounds and cabins where we located a parking spot.

Walking up toward the activity area, I stopped to talk with Walt Libal. He told me that the Lions were directing traffic for the first half of the program and The Rotary Club of Burney and Fall River were directing for the second half. Libal also told me that the Lionesses were catering the event and young Leos, Boy Scouts, and Cub Scouts were helping to staff the various historical displays. George Chapman was in charge of the Boy Scouts, and Bill Ford was overseeing the Cub Scouts. Melissa Madden, activities director at Burney High School, helped to coordinate the Leos.

Local Lion Walt Libal

Local Lion Walt Libal

One interesting  view place to get a view of the event was from inside the old pioneer log cabin built in the 1800’s.

View from pioneer log cabin

View from pioneer log cabin

As I walked into the gathering I was greeted by the tempting smell of barbecue and the pleasing sound of old-time music. Throughout the afternoon a series of groups played acoustic Americana. One that particularly caught my attention was the Meyer family from Manton. Matthew and Marlo Meyer and their talented daughters Grace and Maddy demonstrated the way families entertained in the past when every member of the family played an instrument. Particularly charming was their rendition of Pachelbel’s Canon.

atthew and Marlo Meyer and their delightful, talented daughters Grace and Maddy

Matthew and Marlo Meyer and their talented daughters Grace and Maddy

I heard a friendly greeting from Bob Jehn, President of the Rotary Club,  who was assisting one of the booths. He asked me why I wasn’t up there playing music.

“Because I’m writing an article,” I said.

“You’re always writing an article, ” he replied, laughing.

Off to the side I saw Bill Campbell from the Rotary Club, also busy taking pictures for an article.

Then it was time to experience the “hands-on” participation exhibits, which included candlemaking, branding, saw-bucking, blacksmithing, pine doll-making, bead-making, apple squeeze, spinning, rope-making, and tug-on-a-box.

Candle-making

Candle-making

Children pressing cider

Children pressing cider

Each booth provided a fun educational experience for the whole family. Everyone had an opportunity not only to watch skilled volunteers explain and show how an old fashioned craft or activity was done, but to do it themselves.

Samples of delicious fresh cider produced by the apple squeeze were available to all for a donation.

Sally Privette from Shingletown, who was teaching youngsters how to design a brand, took time to tell me that an old homesteader named Sullaway had just been listed in the Burney Falls Cemetery. I didn’t even know there was a cemetery in the park. It has 41 interments. Sullaway’s homestead by the Pit now lies beneath Lake Britton.

Priviette from Shingletown teaching brand design

Privette from Shingletown teaching brand design

Blacksmith Ron Smith was hard at work show demonstrating his skills.

Blacksmithing

Blacksmithing

Lots of kids were enjoying beading.

Beading

Beading

Mary Elizondo, who raises the fish at Crustal Lake Hatchery, was busy demonstrating and explaining the art of making dolls out of pine needles.

Mary Elizondo demonstrates pine doll-making

Elizondo demonstrates pine doll-making

These two young men were having a lot of fun sawing this log.

Sawing a log

Sawing a log

The Pit River Pioneers came out to display their black powder muskets.

Pit River Pioneers

Pit River Pioneers

This Boy Scout spent a lot of time teaching young folk how to make rope out of twine. Each youngster walked away with a nice section of hand-made rope.

Scout demonstrating rope-making

Scout demonstrating rope-making

Some events were just-plain fun. There was a steady line of people waiting to compete to see who could pull one another off of a wood box.

Tug on a box

Tug on a box

The four-hour happening drew a steady stream of hundreds of people from near and far. People came from all over Northern California to participate. One of the men I met was Scoutmaster Dave Affleck from Mt. Shasta. Affleck had brought ten scouts from Scotts Valley Troop No. 97 to hike the Burney Falls loop and then attend Heritage Day. He told me that he had taken several groups of Scouts to do a week-long hike from the north rim to the south rim of the Grand Canyon. In some spots the temperatures hit 133 degrees. The hikers only hiked in the early morning and then rested during the hot part of the day in shaded campgrounds where water was available. He also had taken Scouts on trips to Alaska.

Dave Affleck Scout Master from Scotts Valley

Scoutmaster Affleck from Scotts Valley

In addition to people who came for the day, many campers enjoyed the event.  Robert Cox, his wife Lois and daughter Kari came from Bend, Oregon to camp at Burney Falls. They were delighted to discover that the festival was taking place during their stay.
Cox Family from Bend

Cox family from Bend

“It’s amazing that they’ve been doing this every year for 30 years!” said Cox.

It pretty much took most of the four hours to take in all of the activities. We did take a little time to walk over to enjoy the falls. However, in spite of all the activity, the day was not tiring. The community spirit and the music were relaxing and invigorating.

Linda and I wandered back down through the woods and found our car. As we drove home, I thought, “I just feel so peaceful.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Burney, Burney Falls, Lake Britton, Music, Pit River, Pit River Area History, Pit River Country Events, Waterfalls

Heritage Day at Burney Falls October 11

Photos by Conrad Skaggs

The 26th Annual Heritage Day will take place October 11 at McArthur-Burney Falls State Park from 12-4p.m. The event is sponsored by the McArthur-Burney Falls Interpretive Association in Partnership with CAL PARKS.

Hawk and Knife 2012

Hawk and Knife 2012

People will have the opportunity to remember and celebrate life in the 1870’s with educational fun for the whole family. Period costumes are welcome.

Late 1800’s attire

Late 1800’s attire

Activities will include pine bough doll-making, candle-making, bread-working, rope-making, blacksmithing, bead-working, and branding. Visitors will also be able to cut their own section of a log with an antique saw.

H-Day Beading

H-Day Beading

Fresh pressed apple cider will be served. The Burney Lions club will cater food. The Ol’ Time Fiddlers will be playing old folk and country tunes.

Ol' Time Fiddlers 2010

Ol’ Time Fiddlers 2010

Admission to the park as well as all of the Heritage Day activities are free. People are encouraged to car pool. This is a great opportunity to take in the beauty of Burney Falls and celebrate the historical heritage of Pit River Country.

Leave a comment

Filed under Burney, Music, Pit River Area History, Waterfalls

Fishing McCloud Lower Falls

Driving up to Mt Shasta on August 26, I asked my daughter if she would like to see the Lower Falls of the McCloud River. She said she would, so we turned off of Hwy 89 onto the McCloud River Loop and headed down to the falls, also called Fowler Falls.

Fowler Falls

Fowler Falls

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.

Fishing the falls

Fishing the falls

The McCloud River is the traditional home territory of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. History of Lower FallsThe 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.

Boy fishing by Fowler Falls

Boy fishing by Fowler Falls

As time went by, one of the fishermen assumed a more relaxed posture.

A relaxed fishing style

A relaxed fishing style

Meanwhile above the falls, visitors were enjoying hiking, walking their dogs, taking pictures, meeting one another and conversing.

Humans and dogs above the falls

Humans and dogs meet above the fall

As I was taking pictures a local resident came up to watch, wondering whether or not I might toss him a little treat.

Feed me

Feed me

1 Comment

Filed under Fishing, McCloud River, Shasta Dam, Waterfalls, Wintu