Tag Archives: hiking

Five skip-hikers rendezvous in Burney

Linda and I had the opportunity to meet five delightful Pacific Crest Trail hikers on Monday, July 10 and to host them for several hours in our back yard.

Front row: Mushy, Quiz, Pinecone, and Princess Layers, Back row: Linda, Alex, Little, and Trapper

The hikers consisted of three young ladies from Australia named Quiz, Pinecone, and Princess Layers; a young adventurer from London, England named Little Spoon; and a young gentleman from North Carolina named Mushy.

The three Australian hikers are posting blog on their journey named Mental Snakes.

Pinecone and Quiz are sisters. Princess Layers has been a friend of theirs since childhood. From what I understood, they began the hike together at the southern terminus of the trail in Campo and hiked north through the desert to the Sierras. Along the way they met Little Spoon. The took a side trip to climb to the 14,505 foot summit of Mount Whitney.

Little Spoon told of how Pinecone turned blue from cold and oxygen deprivation on the Mt Whitney ascent. Pinecone told us about how her frostbitten lips burst and she had to lace them with tons of lip balm to stop the bleeding at night.

As they went further north they faced the same dilemma as thousands of other hikers this year. There was so much snow in the Sierras that most hikers decided to skip hike. This year the PCT is a melee of skip hikers and section hikers pursuing different strategies according to their whims and timetables.

This little band decided to split up. Little Spoon and Princess Layers hiked a little further up the trail and then skipped to Quincy to resume their northward trek. They also had a rest break to recuperate.

Princess Layers and Little Spoon at Burney Falls Park

Pinecone and her sister decided to skip to Ashland and then hike south. Before leaving for Ashland or on their way south, they met Mushy who began hiking together with them.

Pinecone, Mushy, and Quiz at Burney Guest Ranch

Burney is where they met for a reunion as they crossed paths.

This is where Linda and I had the pleasure of entering the story. On our way to lunch at the Senior Nutrition Center, I mentioned to Linda that I had forgotten to bring my camera in case we met any PCT hikers.

After lunch we stopped at the Dollar General Store for cat food. I waited in the car. Linda came out really excited saying that she had met two really nice hikers (Pinecone and Mushy) inside. I went in to meet them and ask them if they needed a ride. They were undecided whether to go to Burney Falls to meet friends of theirs or to go to Burney Guest Ranch for showers. Also they still needed to go into the Safeway for some more supplies.

I told them that I would go home and get my camera while they shopped and then be back to give them a ride wherever they had decided to go. I left Linda at home and headed back to the Safeway. On the way, I thought I would offer them the opportunity to cool off in our pool and shower before they went on their way.

And so I did. Pinecone told me that her friends had made it into town and were at the Post Office. She asked if it would be okay to use our back yard as a place to spend some time together for their reunion. I thought that was a wonderful idea.

On the phone, Little Spoon told them that they would need about 10 minutes to post mail. Pinecone said they still had more shopping to do. So I headed to post office and introduced myself to Little Spoon and Princess Layers and watched their packs while they took care of business. As well as posting mail, they had also received some resupply. Princess Layers had a new pair of hiking shoes and walking stick replacement.

When we arrived at the Safeway, Quiz was there too so we now had five PCT hikers and their packs to fit into the Jeep. Fortunately, we only had a few blocks to go.

When I entered the living room, I told Linda, “I think that I have picked up all of the PCT hikers in Burney.”

She was amazed as the five of them trundled through to the back yard with their packs. They were amazed when they saw the little 25 foot long twelve-foot deep pool. Nice and cool. 70 degrees. Just right for bringing the body temperature down.

Cherries, blueberries, olives and drinks emerged from their packs. Four of them transformed into swimming attire and leapt into the pool.

Then amidst the laughter, chatter, and screams of delight emanating from the pool, a friend of mine Trapper, appeared. Trapper joined in the conversation listening to their stories, asking questions, and informing them about the local fauna. Trapper has been trapping muskrats in Fall River for more that thirty years.

Trapper entertaining hikers by the pool

PCT hikers in general are a fascinating group of people. Generally, young or old, they are very positive, adventurous, well-educated, and idealistic folks. Each of the five hikers relaxing in our back yard was an outstanding person with their unique talents and tales.

Little Spoon grew up in the inner city in London. He quit school when he was 16 and became a model. His modeling career took him throughout much of Europe and even on a shoot to South Korea. By the time he was 18, he had earned enough money to take some time off and decided to go to the Andes in South America. He visited Machu Picchu. He worked for a month in an orphanage in Peru and then spent two weeks in a mountain town in Bolivia.

A friend of his spent time in a monastery in Thailand and he is thinking of going there himself.

“If you go to Thailand and go to a monastery, they will take you in,” he told me. I told him that back in the 1980’s I traveled around the world in a program called Youth Seminar on World Religions and we had a four hour meeting with the Supreme Patriarch of Thai Buddhism. When he learned that I had written my Masters thesis in the seminary on Sufism, he was fascinated and asked for a fairly detailed explanation.

He also told me that his father likes cycling and they may go cycling together in the Himalayas.

Hiking the PCT trail is his first experience hiking.

Little Spoon said, “Life on the trail is challenging but easy. Life in town is easy, but complex and stressful.”

His hiking partner, Princess Layers is studying psychology. She has attended several universities in Australia and already has three degrees. She said she is about half way through her plan of study. Her study in psychology has been diverse, embracing behavioral studies, depth psychology from both a psychoanalytic and Jungian perspective, and cognitive psychology. What she hoped to do when she finishes her studies is to develop a therapy that gets people in touch with the healing energies of the earth and nature and also  uses animals therapeutically.

Quiz is a nurse. Pinecone has worked in Australia in urban landscaping. She would like to move to the United States and do work in that field helping to design parks and urban landscape.

Mushy is a graphic designer. In addition, he is fascinated by crystals, so I gave him a small orange calcite pyramid that I had. Something not to heavy for the hike.

When Little Spoon asked me what kind of music I played, I brought out my guitar and sang two songs for them, “Hiking in the Trail of Love” and “Don’t Think About It.”

When I finished, Quiz asked if she could sing a song so I passed the guitar and she sang a love song named “By the Falls.” Then she and her sister together sang a camping song.

After we had sung, Linda brought out and showed some of her photographs of animals which everyone enjoyed. The young man North Carolina said he had a pointer very similar to the dog in one of her pictures.

It was all a lot of fun and time passed quickly. Little Spoon and Princess Layers needed to get to the park because they wanted to hike to Rock Creek Falls before dark. Pinecone, Quiz, and Mushy wanted to get to Burney Guest Ranch for the night so they could get up early and begin the hike over Hat Creek Ridge to Old Station.

I drove Little Spoon and Princess Layers out to Burney Falls Park first and then returned and took the other three to the guest ranch. When we arrived they saw another hiker they knew. Several more hikers and packs were on the porch. The owner Linda came out to welcome them.

After hiking south to Chester the trio plans to skip back to Ashland to reunite once again with Little Spoon and Princess Layers and continue their journey north to Canada together.

Happy trails!


Leave a comment

Filed under Burney, Pacific Crest Trail

Pecan and Walnut visit Burney – lots of snow on the PCT in the Sierras this year

On Monday June 26, Linda and I stopped into Burney Falls Lodging to talk in with 2016 Honorary Mayor Nancy Bobo. As we were driving out, we saw two Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) hikers coming out of the office with their packs. I had only seen a few hikers this year and as yet hadn’t talked with any so I stopped to ask them about their experience on the trail.

Pecan and Walnut

Their names were Pecan and Walnut. They came from Illinois to hike the PCT and they have been married for 37 years. They began their hike on May 5 at Campo near the Mexican border and hiked through the desert area of Southern California. At Tehachapee one of them took a break and the other continued on to Acton. Then they took a break and went to San Diego for a rest.

After they had rested and recuperated, they skipped the Sierras and started the trail again from mile 1232 near Quincy.

This year there is still a lot of snow in the Sierras. (See Pacific Crest Trail 2017 site on Facebook). It is still very dangerous to hike through because of avalanches and flooding rivers.

According to Pecan and Walnut, most of those who have attempted so far are Europeans who are determined to thru hike the entire trail. They told me that there have been numerous rescues this year.

Many are skip hiking, hoping to complete the trip to Canada and then perhaps to come back and hike the Sierra portion later in the summer.

Pecan told me of one veteran who had just returned from a tour in Afghanistan. He thought that after serving in the mountains there he was ready for anything. He was carried 400 feet down mountain by an avalanche and almost lost his life. That narrow experience convinced him that the PCT Sierra stretch was too dangerous to cross this year.

Pecan and Walnut have been checking the snow map as they look forward. There are areas to the north in the Siskiyous and the Cascades that still have a lot of snow.

So we see, each year the trail is different. Two years ago, during the drought, there was little snow in the Sierras and hikers were able to hike through. Last year, the snow impeded progress in the Spring, but by late June hikers were streaming through. Peak season in the Intermountain area from Lassen to Shasta extended through July into early August.

To make it to Canada before the next winter snows set in hikers need to maintain a steady pace. Even in the areas where the snow pack is hikable, deep snow may slow the pace from a normal 20+ to seven miles a day, so it will really be a challenge for hikers to reach Canada by late September.

Since talking with Pecan and Walnut, I have begun to see more hikers. Traffic is picking up. I’m eager to hear more stories.

Leave a comment

Filed under Burney, Hiking, Pacific Crest Trail

Intermountain Adventures – a new local business in Burney

A short video of Garett Costello and Kayla Trotter introducing their new business Intermountain Adventures at the Burney Chamber of Commerce Meeting on April 11. The video includes interesting and informative question and answer with Chamber members. You can also visit the Intermountain Adventures website.

Leave a comment

Filed under Burney, Hiking, Kayaking

Three plus one equals PCT fun

On Friday July 21, as I was in the middle of writing about Burney becoming a Vortex of PCT activity, I got a call that three more hikers were waiting for me.

I drove over to Burney Lodging to find three strapping young men waiting for a ride to Burney Falls State Park.

Stormchaser, Swiderman, and Clammy

Stormchaser, Swiderman, and Clammy

One was Swiderman. Originally from Glenville, New York, Swiderman now resides in Taos, New Mexico. Skiing in the winter and hiking the PCT in the summer, he exudes the healthy exuberance of a year-round lover of outdoor activity.

His hiking companions were Clammy from Seattle and Stormchaser from Mount Vernon, Washington.

When we went to load their packs in the back they saw that it was covered with dirt and said, “Cool, we can see that you’ve been driving in the woods.”

I told them about my excursion up to Hat Creed Rim to find Dilly Dally.

As we drove out the park, I asked them what they were planning to do after they finished the hike.

“Go back to work!” said Clammy.

Then we passed a PCT hiker on the right side of the highway with his thumb out.

“That’s a confusing hitch-hiker.” one of them said chuckling. “He’s walking one direction and hitching the other.”

As we entered the park, I found out that one of the youths from Washington (I think it was Clammy but maybe it was Stormchaser) was a fellow Husky alumni. I attended University of Washington from 1968-1970, just about the same time as his parents.

I told them the story of how I drew number 1 in the first draft lottery in 1968 and then quit college to hitchhike around the country in 1971, giving up my 2S deferment. Because I was on the road and we didn’t have cell phones back then, I failed to receive a series of induction notices until I stopped to visit my brother in Silver Spring six months later.

Fortunately, because I had sent the draft board Christmas cards over the years and a post card when I dropped out of school notifying them of my decision, they had delayed declaring me AWOL. I hitchhiked back to Helena, Montana and passed my physical in Butte in late November. Because of my high school tom-foolery, I also had to have an interview with a sympathetic Army officer who declared me “morally fit” to serve in the military. I also had a hearing with the 3-person draft board.

Then, in the beginning of 1972, I was categorized as 4A when Melvin Laird declared that no one would be drafted for the first three months of the year. 4A meant “no longer being currently processed for induction.” Subsequently, Laird ended the draft as we shifted to a volunteer army.

They enjoyed my little tale and history lesson. I pulled over and dropped them off at the entrance to the park amidst merry farewells.

Driving back to Burney, I once again passed the confusing hitchhiker. He was on the other side of the highway so I couldn’t stop, but I turned around at the railway crossing and went back to pick him up.

His name was Fred Wilkinson. He was from Tucson, Arizona. He is 42 years old and is hiking the PCT northbound.

On this particular weekend, however, a friend of his was visiting Mt. Shasta. If he stayed on the trail, by the time he reached Shasta she would be gone.

Therefore, he had decided to hitchhike up to Mt. Shasta to meet her for the weekend and then hitchhike back to resume the trail at the 299 trailhead.

Someone had stopped to give him a ride to Burney Falls. However, when he got to Burney Falls he thought that it wasn’t a very good place to hitchhike.

That’s why he was walking back to 4 corners while he was hitching in the opposite direction.

When I stopped to pick him up he was in the process of reconsidering his options. Perhaps, he thought, it would be better to rent a car for the weekend. So we drove back into Burney to see if there was anyone who could rent him a car.

I went first to the oil change place because I thought that I had once seen something there about car rentals. The man at the car rental place referred us to Intermountain Auto repair in Johnson Park, Intermountain Auto had rental cars but only for people who were having work done on their cars.

Renting a car In Burney was no longer an option.

Fred Wilkinson from Tucson

Fred Wilkinson from Tucson

Fred was extremely nice and very grateful for my assistance. He asked me to let him off at the MacDonald’s. MacDonald’s has good Wi-Fi, so Fred planned to get something to eat, go online, and clarify his strategy for reaching Mt. Shasta.

It was still early and he had plenty of time to reach Shasta by nightfall, which was his goal. I told him that I was pretty sure he could get a ride to Mt. Shasta from 4-corners.

“Just don’t take a ride unless they are going all the way to Shasta. You might have to wait an hour or so before someone stops, but you will get a ride and then it’s only a little over an hour ride.” I advised.

I haven’t seen him since, so I hope all went well and he had a pleasant rendezvous. Perhaps I will see him again this week when he returns to resume his northbound trek.


Leave a comment

Filed under Burney, Fall River Mills, Pacific Crest Trail

Pacific Crest Trail through-hikers are here

Hikers hiking the entire Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) are now coming through Pit River country.

This morning at 8 a.m. I got a call from Burney Lodging. Two more hikers needed a ride to the trail. I threw on some clothes and drove over to pick them up.

Two young American hikers were there waiting for me. They greeted me with big smiles and a handshake and gave me their trail names.

One was 2 % from Rochester NY; the other was Pillow Talk from Seattle. They had stayed overnight at Burney Lodging and wanted a ride to Burney Falls State Park.

Two Percent and Pillow Talk in Burney Falls State Park

Two Percent and Pillow Talk in Burney Falls State Park

Burney Falls Lodging is a good place for visiting PCT hikers to know about because it has become the communication point for local PCT angels. Manager Nancy Bobo has been a long time supporter of the PCT. Burney Lodging has a list of angels who are willing to give rides to and from the trail and provide other help. It is also a great place for people who want to meet hikers half way on their journey to come for a rendezvous.

This was the second group of hikers I had met who had hiked the entire trail from Campo to Burney. The first was Royal Irish Ranger Donaju. Actually, 2 % and Pillow Talk had met Donaju further south.

Previous hikers coming through had skipped large sections of the Sierras because of the snow. Now the trail is much more passable so a stream of hikers who had been log-jammed further south are on their way.

Pillow Talk began his journey from Mexico on April 15. 2% began on May 8. They met up around South Lake Tahoe and have been hiking together since then.

Pillow Talk has an interesting perspective because he also hiked the trail in 2013 when there wasn’t very much snow. He didn’t hike the entire trail that year, but he did hike the Sierras so he could see the dramatic difference. He said that he was able to hike about seven more miles a day in 2oi3 when the snow was sparse.

As of now, north of Lake Tahoe the trail is pretty clear of snow. South of Lake Tahoe there is still snow but much of it has melted. Pillow Talk said that as the snow melts, it makes its own interesting snow topography that adds to the challenge of the hike. Portions of the snow fields melt faster than others, there are mounds and areas of snow around the big trees. The snowy areas are not level. There is a lot of up and down.

“It takes a lot of energy,” said Pillow Talk.

He also said that north of the Yosemite area some of the passes are challenging but it is well worth it to see the beauty of the snow-covered Sierras above the tree line.

2 % said he was able to follow all of the trail except for a few detours due to road closings.

They said that they had seen one big cinnamon colored bear.

A hard copy version of this article also appeared in the Mountain Echo 7/12/16

Leave a comment

Filed under Burney, Hiking, Pacific Crest Trail

First PCT hikers visit Burney

When my wife Linda and I stopped at the Dollar General store today after lunch, I saw a young man and a young woman carrying huge backpacks.

“Hi!” I said, “Are you hiking the Pacific Crest Trail?”

They smiled and said “Yes.”

Every year hundreds of hikers from around the world stop in Burney to take a break and get supplies. Burney has a reputation as a PCT friendly town. These two hikers were named Mike and Hannah. They came from Toronto, Canada.

They said that it had been rough going so far and taken longer than they thought it would.

“There was a lot more snow in the mountains than we thought there would be,” Mike shared.

They started their hike at Donner Pass. Many  of the areas they hiked over had eight feet of snow. Some nights they had to make their camp on the snow. They couldn’t build a fire. They used a little portable gas stove to cook and warm themselves. The temperatures were colder than they had expected and they hadn’t brought suitably warm clothing.

The reason that they were at the Dollar General was that Hannah’s flip-flops had been washed away crossing a stream.

Wow! What a mountain adventure. It reminded me of tales I heard of the mountain men like Jim Bridger when I was growing up in Montana.

After resting in Burney, possibly spending the night, they planned to continue on to Dunsmuir. Originally, they had hoped to hike all the way to Canada, but due to the slower passage and limits on their time they had decided not to undergo another mountain crossing into Oregon. There’s just too much snow higher up in the mountains.

Yet in spite of the hardships, both Mike and Hannah seemed to be in very good spirits. They were bright, friendly, and optimistic. They said that when they researched the hike they looked at the reports from the past few years. As we know those were years of sparse snowfall. This year’s El Nino blanketed elevations above 5000 feet with a lot of snow.

Mike and Hannah reaffirmed Burney’s reputation as PCT friendly. They said that they had been offered a ride into town immediately by a very nice woman. In other places along the way, they had had to wait for hours before someone stopped to give them a ride.

I love it when I meet the people who hike the trail. Most of those I have met are very adventurous and idealistic young people with a wonderful attitude and philosophy of life. Hiking the trail can be an experience of endurance, solitude, and communion with nature, but is also a rite of passage into a shared community. As the year progresses and more hikers travel the trail, there is a bond that developes and many lifetime friendships are formed.

I think it is wonderful that a lot of people in Burney welcome and help the hikers. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a camera with me so I wasn’t able to get a picture of this delightful pair. I hope they have a pleasant refreshing stay in Burney and a safe and wonderful journey.

Burney is friendly to PCT Hikers
PCT Hikers take a break at Crystal Lake hatchery


Leave a comment

Filed under Burney, Hiking, Pacific Crest Trail

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.


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.


Leave a comment

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

Great Shasta Rail Trail Opens

The Grand Opening of the Great Shasta Rail Trail (GSRT) was celebrated in two ceremonies held in McCloud and Burney. The ceremonies were sponsored by the Great Shasta Rail Trail Association (GSRTA) and the Shasta Land Trust (SLA).

On Saturday, September 26, at 4:30 p.m., a ribbon cutting ceremony was held at the Heritage Junction Museum in McCloud at the conclusion of the 2015 McCloud Bike-oberfest. April Gray, President of GSRTA, and Anne Murphy, Executive Director of SLA cut the ribbon. About 100 people attended the opening.

Cutting the ribbon in McCloud

Gray and Murphy cutting the ribbon in McCloud

Gray said, “This is a big deal. We have been working on this for six years.”

The ceremony officially opened two sections of the trail, one 13-mile section from Pilgrim Creek Road to Bartle and one 13-mile branch trail from Bartle to Hambone.

Trailhead at Pilgrim Creek Road

Trailhead at Pilgrim Creek Road

On Sunday, September 27, a second ceremony was held at the Burney Depot Trailhead opening the 11-mile section from Burney to the Lake Britton “Stand By Me” railroad trestle. After speeches, Gray presented plaques to Joe Studenicka and Laura Pauley for their work as members of Save Burney Falls, the local non-profit organization that conceived the idea of converting the rail line to a trail and eventually evolved into GSRTA.

Gray presenting plaques to Studenicka and Paulie

Gray presenting plaques to Studenicka and Pauley

Studenicka gave a talk recognizing others who had helped develop the trail and then presented April Gray with one of the golden spikes from the original opening ceremony of the McCloud Railway to Burney in 1956. Gray, Studenicka, and Pauley then cut the ribbon.

Cutting the ribbon in Burney

Cutting the ribbon in Burney

A highlight of the afternoon occurred when Studenicka led a throng of bikers, hikers, and joggers onto the trail for a half-mile jaunt up the trail and back.

Bikers and hikers on the trail

Bikers and hikers on the trail

Three sections of the trail totaling 37 miles are now open for non-motorized use, including hiking, bicycling, horseback riding, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing.

Mo and his owner Linda from Shingletown lead the way

Mo with his owner Linda from Shingletown lead the way

The Shasta Land Trust, the McCloud Local First Network, the Volcanic Legacy Community Partnership, the McCloud Trail Association, and the Burney and Fall River Chambers of Commerce have been working cooperatively for five years to convert the 80 miles of railroad track of the McCloud Railroad between McCloud and Burney to a public recreation trail.

The GSRT will include a central 53-mile trail from Burney Depot to Pilgrim Creek Road, three miles east of McCloud, and two branch trails. One of the branches leads from Bartle to Hambone. The second splits off between Burney and Hwy 89 and heads toward Goose Valley.

Map of GSRT

Map of GSRT

In 2013, GSRTA was created to own the property and manage the trail. The Shasta Land Trust subsequently received a $350,000 grant from the California Transportation Commission which enabled them to buy the property from 4 Rails owned by Jeff Forbis. Shasta Land Trust will deed the property to GSRTA.

Current board members of GSRTA include Jerry Harmon and Bob Polkinghorn from Mt. Shasta; April Gray from McCloud; Tina Peluso and Bill Campbell from Fall River Valley; Pat Thompson and Dr. Henry Patterson from Burney; Elizabeth Norton from Susanville; and Ben Miles, past executive director of SLA, who now lives in Kentucky.

Polkinghorn, secretary of the Board, said, “This is really a big milestone for Burney, McCloud, Fall River Valley and the recreational system in this area. We have a big vision.”

Polinghorn addresses the crowd in McCloud

Polinghorn addresses the crowd in McCloud

Speaking to GSRT supporters who attended the ceremonies, Miles explained that while celebrating the purchase of the property and opening of a portion of the trail, there is much work ahead.

Miles speaking at Burney Depot trailhead. Pat Thompson behind to his right

Miles speaking at Burney Depot trailhead. Pat Thompson behind to his right

Signs need to be posted welcoming non-motorized trail users and closing the trail to motor vehicles. Over 50 miles of the trail remain to be opened. Some of these will require major infrastructure improvements. Six bridges and the 462-foot-long railroad trestle over Lake Britton need to be restored. The trail surface will need to be improved and maintained. Additional trailhead facilities and amenities will be added and interpretive and educational markers placed along the trail.

Stand By Me Bridge in need of restoration

Stand By Me Bridge in need of improvements

GSRTA plans to achieve this by implementing a five-year plan evolving through six phases. In order to do so a lot of funding and many volunteers will be needed.

1 Comment

Filed under Burney, Fall River Mills, Great Shasta Rail Trail, Hiking, Lake Britton, McCloud

Burney is friendly to PCT Hikers

On Tuesday, August 4, I was sitting at the computer checking my Email when I got a call from Nancy Bobo. Nancy manages several motels for Burney Falls Lodging. She also has been assisting hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) for more than five years.

Nancy has a list of “angel’s” to call if hikers need a ride to or from the trail. If they need a place to camp or stay in town, she helps to arrange that. She also provides a drop box for hikers who want to leave something for others hikers to pick up later. Numerous volunteers in Burney enjoy meeting the people who hike the trail and assisting them.

Nancy Bobo with Sky Eyes

Nancy Bobo with Sky Eyes

I’m on Nancy’s angel list.  She was calling to ask if I could give a hiker a ride. I told her I would be happy to and went over to the motel where Sky Eyes from Ashland, Oregon was waiting for a ride to Burney Falls State Park. The trail passes through the park right near Burney Falls.

Sky Eyes is his trail name. When hikers hike the trail they adopt a trail name that they use for the duration of the hike. When I showed one hiker a pictures of others I had met at Baum Lake, he said he recognized them, but he didn’t recognize their names because they had given me the names that they used in their normal life.

Pacific Crest Trail Sign in Burney Falls State Park

Pacific Crest Trail Sign in Burney Falls State Park

Over the last month, I’ve had the opportunity to meet and talk with a dozen or so hikers and have given a number of them rides to parts of the trail and directions to various places. The ones I’ve met have come from Arizona, New York, Oregon, Washington, San Diego and New York.

The picture that emerges from my conversations is different than the idea I had of a long solitary trek through the woods. One hiker told me that there are an estimated 14,000 hikers on the PCT this year, three times more than normal. He had met people not only from the United States but from all over the world, particularly Europe.

Rock Creek Falls

PCT bridge at Rock Creek Falls

“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.”

A lot of hikers also enjoy visiting the small rural towns along the trail. Many of the towns have “angels.” People post messages on the trail with helpful information. Burney is a particularly convenient place because it has a Safeway store, a Laundromat, a health food store, and a well-stocked sporting goods store. Two of the hikers I gave a ride to I met at the McDonald’s. Several others were happy to hear that there was a pizza parlor.

Most hikers set a daily pace of 22 to 25 miles a day and plan on five months to hike the entire trail. A “zero” is a day that a person adds no miles. A “nero” is a day that a person logs half or less miles than his normal pace. There are designated camping areas, but one hiker told me that “all you really need is a flat space near the trail.”

Egret over Baum Lake near PCT

Egret over Baum Lake near PCT

Hikers also encounter a lot of wildlife on their 2650 mile trek through the wilderness. One hiker told me his encounters were primarily with deer, but he had met several hikers who came across a bear on the trail.

One of the reasons more people are hiking the trail this year is the December 2014 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.

Strayed was a section hiker in 1995. She hiked 1,100 miles from the Mojave desert to the Bridge of the Gods crossing into Washington. Most of the hikers I’ve met this year are hiking the whole trail Mexico to Canada. The trail begins at the wall that divides Mexico from the United States.

As I gave Sky Eyes a ride to Burney Falls, he told me that he hadn’t actually been able to touch the wall. He said that to do so you have to hop a fence about thirty feet from the wall. When he began his journey on May 25, there was a border patrolman guarding the wall.

Sky Eyes in Burney Falls Park

Sky Eyes in Burney Falls Park

Leave a comment

Filed under Burney, Hiking, Pacific Crest Trail, 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.

Leave a comment

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