Tag Archives: Crystal Lake

Going to the Birds of Baum Lake

We are lucky to live in such a beautiful area. Why do I spend so much time inside on the computer?

Pelicans and ducks on Baum Lake

Pelicans and ducks on Baum Lake

Early this afternoon, I tweeted:

“So many to-do things…I am trying to get off into the woods but I am glued to cyberspace…”

I grabbed my camera, jumped in the jeep, and headed out of town.

Metal giraffe in the woods

Metal giraffe in the woods

I wanted to see how many pelicans were out on Baum Lake waiting to have their picture taken. On the way, I decided to stop at PacWay.

“This is an awesome sculpture garden,” I thought. “I should put some pictures of it up on the Internet so people around the world can see it.”

Giant bug in the woods

Giant bug in the woods

When I got there I was surprised to see so many people there browsing around. About twenty visitors to the area. The metal sculptures are becoming one of our most attractive tourist spots.

Metal and stone sculptures at PacWay on Baum Lake Road

Metal and stone sculptures at PacWay on Baum Lake Road

There was a lovely group of people from Happy Valley and Fort Bragg…

Amy and Jimmy Lee and family from Grass Valley

Amy and Jimmy Lee and family from Grass Valley

and another group from Sacramento. They all got excited when a doe danced through the nearby pasture.

The Long and Aston family visiting from Sacramento

The Long and Aston family visiting from Sacramento

It’s a lot of fun to get out and meet friendly people from out of town. In this case they had questions.

“Are you a local?”

“Where can I buy a RV battery?”

“When was the first metal sculpture put up here?”

I did my best to answer, explain some of the history, and suggest places. This family was on their way to Burney Falls so I also suggested they stop in the visitor center for more info.

Then I headed to Baum Lake. What a motley crew of pelicans awaited me.

An interesting fellow

An interesting fellow

Puffy-winged Pelican

Puffy-winged Pelican

He's going to fly away

He’s going to fly away

Told ya so

Told ya so

Wait for me!

Wait for me!

Then I saw a bird I didn’t know standing on a stick.

What is the bird on the stick

What is the bird on the stick

Some pelicans wanted to get in on the picture.

Mystery bird and Pelicans

Mystery bird and Pelicans

Overhead, this guy flew into my zoom.

Is this a bald eagle?

Is this a bald eagle?

Then I met a nice couple up for the weekend.

Mr. and Mrs. Burdock from Sacramento

Mr. and Mrs. Burdock from Sacramento

They asked about Hat Creek I told them about Frank Baum, Crystal Lake, the fish hatchery, Pacific Crest Trail, the short-cut through PGE campground to Cassel Forebay, etc… They got really excited when I told them where the Rising River and Clint Eastwood’s ranch were.

Pelicans on Baum Lake with Crystal Lake Fish Hatchery in the background

Pelicans on Baum Lake with Crystal Lake Fish Hatchery in the background

Speaking of the Crystal Lake Fish Hatchery, the last I heard they were still closed because of construction on their intake. I decided to drive over and have a look-see.

Hurray! They are open to the public again. I met an enthusiastic young Fish and Wildlife seasonal aide named Brad. He told me that in the early plantings the fish were a little smaller than normal this year. The reason is that they fed the fish less while the water levels were fluctuating due to the construction on the intakes. Now they’re back to feeding them more and the fish are up to normal size.

Also Brad told me that water levels were good, not only in Hat Creek, Burney Creek, the Fall River area etc., but also farther east over to Alturas. A lot of the ponds that were dry last year have been replenished by this year’s El Nino.

Just yesterday alone the fish hatchery had an inch of rainfall and Brad said he’d heard that there may be intermittent showers through the summer. We’ll see. I’m expecting 1oo+ degrees by Burney Basin Days.

Well, that’s all my little brain and shutter-eye could hold and behold. I headed back to the computer.

Refreshed! it sure is nice to have so much beauty within 15 or 20 minutes of Burney!

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Baum Lake, Big Valley

A delightful day along Hat Creek

On Monday August 25, my wife Linda and I needed to go to the Inter-Mountain Fairgrounds in McArthur to submit our photography, poetry, and art exhibits for the upcoming fair. My daughter HanaLyn and her friend Jamie Barrows are visiting from Maryland, so they came along to see some of the beautiful Pit River Country.

After taking care of the business with the helpful Inter-Mountain fair staff, we stopped at the Frosty in Fall River to pick up some sandwiches and drinks. We then headed to Hat Creek Park on Hwy 299 for a picnic on our way home.

As we were walking to the picnic table, I spied a heron standing in the middle of the creek. HanaLyn headed down to the bank. Linda hastily pulled out her camera.  I raced back to my car to get mine, hoping that the heron wouldn’t fly away before I could get a picture.

Hana Lyn and the Heron

HanaLyn and the Heron

The heron wasn’t even phased by us. He simply dipped his beak into the water and came up with a frog.

Catching the frog

Catching the frog

He got a good grip and then down the gullet it went. Then he strutted a bit in satisfaction.

Satisfied after a meal

Satisfied after a meal

After watching Mr. Heron enjoy his lunch, we decided to sit down and enjoy ours. However, before we could even open the bag, we were swarmed by yellow jackets. Jamie is allergic to bee stings, so we hastily retreated back to the car and headed over to Baum Lake and the Crystal Lake hatchery to enjoy our lunch at the picnic table there.

We met a friendly couple from Redding at the picnic table. They were enjoying a cool ride on their motorcycle through the beautiful country making a loop up 299 through Burney, heading down Baum Lake Road to Cassel, then continuing  down Hwy 89 to Lassen Park, and finally riding back down through Shingletown to Redding.

After lunch, HanaLyn and Jamie had fun photographing some of the albino Eagle Lake Rainbow Trout. Each year, out of the millions of eggs hatched at Crystal Lake Hatchery a few albino mutations occur. The hatchery does their best to nurture and raise these albinos. Some of them are now also on display at the Turtle Bay Museum in Redding.

Pointing out the albinos

Pointing out the albinos

Linda had some photos to give to the staff at the fish hatchery so we stopped in for a brief visit to drop them off and then crossed over to Baum Lake. White pelicans were swimming in the lake. Ospreys were flying overhead.

American Pelicans on Baum Lake

American Pelicans on Baum Lake

Also, a fisherman, Michael Hurdle from Richmond, Texas had just arrived. Hurdle was traveling from Sacramento to Likely, California, a town of 99 people south of Alturas to visit his sister. He saw a sign for a fishing lake on the highway so he detoured to enjoy a brief respite fishing.

“Well, you’ve just come to one of the best fishing lakes in the country.” I said. The pelicans patiently feeding from the lake and the ospreys overhead testified to the veracity of my statement.

Michael Hurdle from Houston

Michael Hurdle from Texas

While in Sacramento, Hurdle had spent some time fishing the American River. He said that the water was low and mentioned that a portion of the Merced River had been closed due to the drought.

I told him that the waters here were fairly normal because Hat Creek and Fall River were fed from a giant aquifer, a honeycomb of underground lava tubes that gave rise to many springs in the area. I also told him that the hatchery across the road regularly stocked the lake, though I wasn’t sure when they had stocked it last.

Hurdle did another cast with his fly rod, taking measure of the wind and current in the lake. He smiled and said he wasn’t overly concerned whether he caught a fish or not.

“What better way is there to enjoy an hour break before I continue on my way?” he asked with a blissful smile.

I wished him luck and went down to the boat launch area to rejoin Linda and our guests. I heard a truck pull up and looked to see Kristen Idema, a friend of Linda and mine from Redding. We hadn’t seen her for several months and hooped with joy at our surprise meeting.

After hugs, I introduced her to my daughter and Jamie and she introduce us to her friend from Michigan, Deborah, that she had known since she was in the fourth grade. Deborah and her husband had come for a week of camping at one of the campgrounds on Hat Creek. Kristen had driven up from Redding to spend the day with them. They had just visited Burney Falls.

Relaxing by the lake

Rendezvous by the lake

Deborah let her two beautiful labs out of the truck to enjoy a swim, while Kristen and I caught up on the past few months.

 Labs going for the ball

Deborah and her dogs

Finally, we drove back to Burney via Cassel Road so we could show Hana Lyn and Jamie the Rising River. As we sat around the pool enjoying salsa and guacamole and discussing the pros and cons of cilantro, I thought,

“There are so many delightful things to see and do in this area. It just blows my mind!”

 

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Filed under Baum Lake, Burney, Crystal Lake, Fall River Mills, Fishing, Hat Creek, Intermountain Fair, MacArthur, Wildlife

PCT Hikers take a break at Crystal Lake hatchery

 Article by Alex Colvin and photos by LACE Photography

After enjoying the music and food at the 36th Annual Deep Pit Barbecue at the Hat Creek Hereford Ranch Campground on Saturday July 18, my wife Linda and I were uncertain what to do next. I had been thinking of checking out some local fishing spots to get pictures for a story on fishing. However, we were both a little tired so we decided to head back to Burney.

Heading south on highway 89, a small caravan of Model A Fords was slowing traffic. Linda loves vintage cars so we decided to let the fast vehicles move on and just join the parade of old cars. The Model A’s turned right on Cassel Road and we followed.

Following the Model A's

Following the Model A’s

We drove over the Rising River, past Clint Eastwood’s ranch and into Cassel. As we drove through Cassel, I saw a line of fishermen on the bank of Hat Creek across the road from the PGE campground. I was tempted to stop but instead continued on with the vintage parade. We had seen these cars at the barbecue but we didn’t know where they were from or where they were going and we were curious.

Amercian White Pelicans on Baum Lake

Amercian White Pelicans on Baum Lake

When they passed Baum Lake Road, however, we decided to turn right and go over to Crystal and Baum Lakes. As we drove into the parking area at Baum Lake, Linda let out a little exclamation of joy. The lake was filled with American white pelicans that we loved to photograph.

Fisherman on Baum Lake by PCT Trail

Fisherman on Baum Lake by PCT Trail

There were a number of families picnicking by the lake. One man was paddling in a small rubber raft through the reeds and grasses that had grown up in the recent hot weather. Over by the white water where the water from Crystal Lake flows into Baum Lake two more young fellows were fishing.

Baum Lake is named after Frank Baum, a world-famous hydroelectric engineer who designed the hydroelectric power sites on the Pit River from Pit 1 to Pit 8. While investigating potential power sources in Shasta County in the early 1900’s, he bought the Crystal Lake Ranch where he later built the Hat 1 and Hat 2 power stations.

Baum Lake in a hot July

Baum Lake in a hot July

He also built a home where the water flows between Crystal Lake and Baum Lake. Baum lived there with his wife until his death in 1932. The house burned down in 1936 and was never replaced. In 1939, his widow, Mary, sold the property to PG&E. PG&E later leased some of the land across the road from the lakes to the state of California where they began the Crystal Lake Fish Hatchery in 1947.

The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) runs right over the bridge between the two lakes where Baum’s home was and then continues up alongside Baum Lake towards Hwy 299.

After Linda and I took some pictures, we decided to head home. At the entrance to the park, a young man and woman with back packs were standing by the road.

PCT hikers Sara bishop and Adam Kirby

PCT hikers Sara bishop and Adam Kirby

“Hi!” I said, “Are you hiking the trail.

“Yes,” the bearded young man answered.

“Would you like a ride into Burney?”

“No thanks. We saw a sign posted on the trail that said there was free beer and food at the fish hatchery. Have you seen a third hiker. We were hiking with a friend and we’re not sure where he went.”

We told them that we hadn’t and pointed out the fish hatchery and headed on toward Burney. After driving only a few hundred yards though, I said to Linda, “Wow! I should go back. I’ve been wanting to write about the PCT for awhile. We should go talk with them.”

The Model A Ford Club of Quincy

The Model A Ford Club of Quincy

So we turned around and drove into the parking lot of the fish hatchery. The funny thing was, when we drove in, we saw the very cars we had been following parked by the table where the hikers were sitting.

So, while I introduced myself to the hikers, Linda went to meet the motorists. They were members of the Model A Club of Quincy on a tour of Northern California.

I introduced myself to the hikers. There were three now because they had found their friend, Kelly Cohoe, from Portland Oregon. The two other hikers we had met earlier were Sara Bishop from New York and Adam Kirby from Seattle, Washington.

Adam was hiking the whole 2,660 miles of the PCT northbound. He had started April 21th. Sara was also hiking the whole trail. She had begun hiking north on April 26th. They had been hiking together since they had met at about mile 600. Adam said that he was hoping to reach the end of the trail before the end of September.

PCT hiker Kelly Cohoe

PCT hiker Kelly Cohoe

Kelly, whom they called “Flying Eagle,” was a section hiker. This year he was hiking 1065 miles. Once he finished, he would have hiked the entire trail. Kelly had met Sara and Adam the night before when they had camped at the Hat Creek Hereford Ranch Campground, the very place where Linda and I and the Model A Club had just been at the barbecue.

But while we had been enjoying a hefty barbecue and music and touring, the hikers had been hiking almost 30 miles on a stretch with no water. So they were very happy to have this break, refill their bottles and rehydrate.

Happy PCT hikers rehydrating

Happy PCT hikers rehydrating

We talked for awhile about their journey. I learned that a zero is a day that a person logs no miles on the trail. A nero is a day that one only hikes half or less of their normal days hike. These hikers normally hiked 22 to 30 miles a day.

I told them that Burney was a PCT friendly town. There are several access points to the trail including Baum Lake, a station near Hwy 89,  the crossing at 299, Burney Falls State Park, and Rock Creek Falls. Many of the Burney Residents enjoy giving hikers rides to and from Burney where there is a Safeway store and a health food store where they can stock up on food and drink. Burney also has other local businesses who like to serve the hikers and residents who are willing to supply a place to stay or camp if they want to take a break. It’s also a great rendezvous point for people who want to meet friends or loved ones who are hiking the trail. Burney is just over half way from Mexico to Canada.

After chatting for awhile, Linda and I wished them well, jumped in our Jeep and headed to Johnson Park for ice cream.

“Wow!” I thought, “You never know what great experiences you will have if you just get in your vehicle and drive around Pit River Country!”

Alex Colvin is co-owner of The Lace Gallery in Burney, California. He previously wrote for non-profit corporations in the Washington-Baltimore Metropolitan Area. Since returning to Burney, where he has deep family roots, Alex and his wife Linda have dedicated themselves to exploring and photographing the natural beauty of Northern California.

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Filed under Baum Lake, Crystal Lake, Hat Creek, Pacific Crest Trail, Vintage Cars

Flatwater Kayaking in Pit River Country

Article by Alex Colvin 05/27/15 — As the Pit River flows through eastern Shasta County, it is fed by the springs and streams of Fall River Valley and Hat Creek, creating numerous delightful locations for flatwater kayaking. Ahjumawi State Park, Baum Lake, Lake Britton, and selected areas of the Pit River around Hwy. 299 provide opportunities to experience natural beauty and wildlife while paddling serenely over the water.

Deer, raccoons, coyote, otters, muskrat, and beaver thrive in the area. Bald eagles, osprey, and a variety of hawks soar above. American pelicans, egrets, great blue heron, grebes, geese, and ducks frequent the waters. The area offers incredible views of the Cascades, including Mt. Shasta and Mt. Lassen.

Ahjumawi is a word from the language of the Pit River Native Americans who inhabit the area. It means “Where the waters come together.” Water from the snowmelt of Medicine Lake Volcano forms one of the largest systems of underground springs in the country. These springs feed over a billion gallons of water a day into Eastman Lake, Big Lake, Tule River, Ja-She Creek, Lava Creek, and Fall River.

Donna Sylvester's grandaughter Lexi on Baum Lake - Photo by Donna Sylvester

Donna Sylvester’s grandaughter, Lexie, on Baum Lake, photo by Donna Sylvester

According to Donna Sylvester, certified Kayak instructor and owner of Eagle Eyes Kayak, “Spring and early summer is the best time to Kayak, especially on Lake Britton and Ahjumawi State Park. Baum Lake is great anytime!” Sylvester instructs and guides kayakers on waterways in the Pit River area. She has 21 kayaks, so she can provide a kayak tailored to the skill, safety, and comfort of each person. For visitors to the area who want to kayak but don’t need a guide, she provides rentals.

The Jiminez Family Kayaking - Photo by Donna Sylvester

The Jimenez Family kayaking, photo by Donna Sylvester

Recently, on May 24, Sylvester guided Paul Jimenez, his wife Lily, and his two cousins Paz and Anna Ruth on a kayak trip in Ahjumawi State Park. Jimenez said he was very pleased at how patiently Sylvester instructed them. The group paddled through Horr Pond up the Tule River to Ja-She Creek. Along the way, Jimenez saw deer, ducks including a cinnamon teal, a white egret, a blue heron, pelicans, geese, a muskrat, and a sunbathing snake. He was also very impressed by the beautiful views of Mt. Shasta and Mt. Lassen. After returning to his home in San Mateo and reflecting on the experience, Jimenez says, “Mejor seria imposible.” (Better would have been impossible!)

To learn more about Eagle Eyes Kayak click here.

Alex Colvin is co-owner of The Lace Gallery in Burney, California. He previously wrote for non-profit corporations in the Washington-Baltimore Metropolitan Area. Since returning to Burney, where he has deep family roots, Alex and his wife Linda have dedicated themselves to exploring and photographing the natural beauty of Northern California.

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Filed under Ajumawi State Park, Baum Lake, Crystal Lake, Fall River, Hat Creek, Kayaking, Pit River Area History, Pit River Tribe