Tag Archives: Pit River

Whitewater weekend includes five-mile race to Big Bend Bridge

Saturday and Sunday September 10-11, PG&E again increased flows from Pit 5, thus creating another wonderful weekend of level IV and V rapids for whitewater enthusiasts.

Riding the river

Riding the river

I left Burney late Saturday morning and arrived at Big Bend just before noon. I went straight to the parking lot where kayakers exit the river by the bridge. It was full of people who had completed their first run.

The first person I met was Lauren Burlison from Redding.

“Hi! I remember you from last year,” she said.

Burlison had returned with her friend Ian Janosko for another run on the rapids. Both are students at Simpson College in Redding. Burlison has one semester left before finishing a liberal arts major preparing her to be a teacher. Janosko is a nursing student. They came with a group of friends from Placerville. Janokso was planning to organize a race from the Madesi River Access.

Lauren Burlison and Ian Jamosko Simpson-University with friends from Placerville

Lauren Burlison and Ian Janosko with fellow rafters from Placerville

Before heading up to the Madesi River Access where the race was to begin I met another group of happy kayakers from Southern Oregon who had just finished their first run.

When I arrived at the Madesi River Access, I met Susan Stalcut from Spring Rivers who was keeping track of how many people entered the river. As of 12:45 there had been 85 people on the river. Last month only 36 had signed up. Stalcut counted 59 kayaks and 6 rafts on her list.

Most had come to camp for the weekend. Friday night, several local musicians and drummers from Big Bend had come to the campsite for an evening jam.

Hobbs and Corona with their pontoon river raft

Hobbs and Corona with their pontoon river raft

As we were talking Nathan Stayrook Hobbs from Grass Valley and Nate Corona from Reno came in to get ready for their second run. Hobbs said that one of the other rafts had gotten stuck three times. It was an inexperienced crew with an underinflated raft, but they made it down to the bridge all right.

In the meantime, Janosko was busy signing people up for the race.

Ready to race

Ready to race

One of those present was a young daredevil, Rocco Russo from Cottonwood. Russo had been here last month riding down the river with a camcorder on his head. Russo has a video of him going over Lion Slide (Hatchet) Falls on youtube.

Russo and one other kayaker volunteered to go downstream to make sure that everyone was safe at two of the more intense whitewater areas. Then thirteen racers entered the river and lined up with their sterns on the opposite bank.

At just past 1:30 Janosko’s father, Boomer, using his hat as a starting flag yelled, “Ready, set, go!”

The race begins

The race begins

After watching the start, I headed down towards Big Bend. On the way there is an overlook where I caught a glimpse of the racers through the trees.

Glimpse of the racers through the trees from the overlook

Glimpse of the racers through the trees from the overlook

As they passed below I could see that Janosko had pulled into the lead. I headed toward the bridge at Big Bend.

When I got there, two PG&E employees had just finished measuring the flows. They told me their figure was 1275 cubic feet per second.

Shortly thereafter, Janosko came around the bend. He screamed with joy as he passed under the bridge.

The winner coming under the bridge

The winner coming under the bridge

Not far behind the remaining pack of racers descended.

Coming down the home stretch

Coming down the home stretch

I was happy that I had been able to come and cover the race. The Spring River and PG&E employees were happy to see that there was a good turnout. The kayakers and rafters were happy just to be here.

As I chatted with folks from the Sacramento area, Reno, Oregon, Placerville, and Redding, I heard comments such as

“You are so lucky to live in such a beautiful area!”

“It’s so peaceful here!”

“I love coming up here! It’s freedom!”

All very true. Pit River Country is wonderful.

Kayakers would continue to enjoy additional runs through the afternoon on Saturday and then again on Sunday till 4 p.m. That would conclude the whitewater flows on the Pit 5 reach for 2016.

However, there is still more rafting to be had on the Pit River this year. On the first and third weekends in October, PG&E will be increasing flows on the Pit River below Fall River Mills so kayakers can ride over Pit River Falls down to Pit 1 Campground.

See also:

Pit River Whitewater Draws Kayakers
Kayakers ride the Pit
Kayakers enjoy “good clean fun” on the Pit



Filed under Big Bend, Kayaking, PG&E, Pit River

Kayakers enjoy “good clean fun” on the Pit

Saturday August 13, Kayakers from Northern California, Nevada, and Oregon gathered at the Madesi River Access above Big Bend to enjoy the thrill of riding level III, IV, and V rapids on a 9.3 mile stretch of the Pit River.

Gang of six

Gang of six

This was the first day of the first of two weekends in 2016 that PG&E will be providing high water flows on the Pit 5 Reach of the Pit River from Pit 5 Dam to the J.B. Black Powerhouse.

By 10 a.m. PG&E had increased the flows from 450 to 1500 cubic feet per second. They remained at this level until about 4 p.m. when they were gradually reduced to 600. Sunday morning the flows were raised again to 1500 and the after 4 p.m. gradually lowered back to 450 feet per second.

An interesting helmet - no wet suit

An interesting helmet – no wet suit

The most challenging stretch is from Madesi River Access to the bridge at Big Bend. There is river access just below the bridge. From Big Bend to J.B. Black Powerhouse the ride is easier.

My wife Linda and I arrived at 12:30 p.m. to watch the kayakers come round the bend in the river and ride the white water above the bridge. It’s fun for the kayakers but it’s fun for photographers too.

Here they come

Good clean fun

Spring River Watchers

Spring River Watchers

As we walked out onto the bridge, we saw two watchers from Spring Rivers. Spring Rivers is a company that provides biological and physical assessments of aquatic and riparian ecosystems. PG&E contracts with them to monitor the event, registering the kayakers at the Madesi access and then keeping count as they pass under the bridge and disembark at the Bridge access or J.B. Black Powerhouse.

By the time we arrived, one raft and 13 kayakers had passed below the bridge. A Spring Rivers truck arrived and told us that so far 32 kayakers had registered.

As we waited for more to appear round the bend of the river upstream, we met two of the group of 32, Sarah from Fair Oaks and Erica Gold from Oakland.

Sarah from Fair Oaks and Erica Gold from Oakland

Sarah from Fair Oaks and Erica Gold from Oakland

Sarah and Erica had opted to wait for some friends to ride the current to the bridge and then join them to ride down to J.B. Black Powerhouse. One of them had done this run in a previous year. The other hadn’t but had kayaked the Pit One run that goes over Pit River Falls to the Pit One campground. She said that was really exciting.

They told me that they were part of a group of kayakers that had gathered together for the weekend. In addition to Fair Oaks and Oakland, friends came from Reno, San Jose, Coloma near Placerville, and Trinity County.

It was a perfect day for kayaking, bright and sunny with a clear blue sky. Cool in the water, but hot on the bridge. The two young ladies went to get some shade. I told them I would call when their friends rounded the bend

And soon they did. A whole slew of them riding the rapids.

Here they come

Here they come

After they had passed under the bridge, I went down toward the access  to meet some of the kayakers.

Two Tylers - Bushnell and Bachtell from Oregon

Two Tylers – Bushnell and Bachtell from Oregon

I asked one of the Tylers from Oregon how the ride was.

Flushed with adrenaline, he responded, “Awesome! Awesome! Awesome! Awesome! Nothing but smiles!”

Climbing up the bank to a waiting vehicle, Yann from Gold Hill Oregon added, “Good clean fun!”

Yann from Gold Hill Oregon

Yann from Gold Hill Oregon

They loaded their kayaks on a vehicle to head up for another run.

I went back to the bridge. Linda and I were thinking of heading home. However, I looked upstream and another batch of kayakers had just rounded the bend.

I think that more riders must have registered because we were now well above our count of 32.

In the groove

In the groove

Most of the kayakers planned to ride the river through the afternoon up till 4 p.m. and then camp together overnight so they could enjoy more runs the next day. More will probably come on Sunday to join in the fun.

Sarah had explained that whitewater kayakers are a community. Many are friends who have kayaked together at various locations. American Whitewater advertises the whitewater opportunities and groups of friends reconnoiter to navigate the flows.

The next weekend that PG&E will increase flows will be September 10-11. On both of those days, they will raise the flow to 1200 cubic feet per second.

It certainly is a rush when the rivers are rising and the riders are riding the whitewater flows.




Filed under Big Bend, Kayaking, PG&E, Pit River

PG&E to provide high whitewater flows on 9.3 miles of Pit River over two weekends

The following is from a press release from PG&E dated August 8:

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) will provide high whitewater flows on the Pit 5 Reach of the Pit River in eastern Shasta County over two weekends, the company announced today.

The higher flows will occur on August 13-14 and September 10-11. Those recreating in or near this portion of the river are encouraged to use extra caution during the increased flows. This portion of the river contains Class III, IV and V rapids, which are appropriate only for skilled paddlers. The reach is not appropriate for tubing.

The Pit 5 Reach is the 9.3-mile portion of the Pit River that extends from PG&E’s Pit 5 Dam and the J.B. Black Powerhouse near Big Bend.

Prior to the increase for August 13-14, flows in the Pit 5 Reach will be about 450 cubic feet per second (cfs).  On early Saturday morning PG&E will gradually increase water flows until it reaches 1,500 cfs, before 10 a.m. The flows will be held at this level until about 4 p.m. that day when flows will gradually be reduced to 600 cfs.

The higher flows will be repeated the next day at the same times, then, after 4 pm, gradually decreased to the normal flow of about 450 cfs.

On the weekend of September 10-11, PG&E will increase flows to 1,200 cfs on both days. As with the previous releases, starting early in the morning the flows will gradually be increased to the target level by 10 a.m. and then after 4 p.m. gradually decreased to more normal flow levels.

The whitewater flows are a requirement of PG&E’s license conditions for the Pit 3, 4, and 5 Hydroelectric Project.

Despite the drought, water flows in the Pit River watershed are near normal as the Pit River is largely fed by springs that steadily release water from large volcanic aquifers, even in dry years.

Due to the high fire danger this year, the higher flow dates are subject to change. PG&E recommends verifying the dates via the PG&E recreation website www.pge.com/recreation/.

PG&E offers the following water safety tips:

  • Sudden immersion in cold water can stimulate the “gasp reflex,” causing an involuntary inhalation of air or water. It can even trigger cardiac arrest, temporary paralysis, hypothermia and drowning. When faced with swift water, even the strongest swimmers may be easily overwhelmed.
  • Many unseen obstacles can be lurking below the water’s surface. Swift water can make these obstacles even more treacherous. Guided trips for inexperienced paddlers are recommended.
  • Recreating in PG&E canals and flumes is strictly prohibited. Stay out of canals and flumes, which are very dangerous due to slippery sides and fast moving wate

About PG&E

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

To view articles on Kayakers from last years flows see

Kayakers ride the Pit
Pit River Whitewater Draws Kayakers


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Filed under Kayaking, PG&E, Pit River

Pit River Country – Beauty in the Spring

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

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

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

Ranch off Black Ranch Road

Ranch off Black Ranch Road

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

Lilacs by the lake

Lilacs by the lake

This oak tree had some interesting growths.

Strange growth on an oak tree

Strange growth on an oak tree

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

Lake Britton from the Old Ferry Crossing 2

Lake Britton from the Old Ferry Crossing

There were some interesting tracks in the mud.

animal track

animal track

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

Butterfly by Lake Britton

Butterfly by Lake Britton

The wild roses were in bloom.

wild rose

wild rose

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

Deer in the woods

Deer in the woods

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

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

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Filed under Burney, Lake Britton, Wildlife

Did we get a White Christmas? You decide…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

View from our back yard in Burney

View from our back yard in Burney

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

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

Burney Creek from Clark's Creek Road

Burney Creek from Clark’s Creek Road

We proceeded on into the park.

Driving into the park on Clark Creek Road

Driving into the park on Clark Creek Road

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

Trail into Burney Falls Park

Trail into Burney Falls Park

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

Burney Falls through the trees

Foot Bridge over Burney Creek above the falls

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

Burney Falls through the trees

Burney Falls through the trees

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

Linda took a picture of me

Linda took a picture of me

I took a picture of Linda.

Linda may take a picture of you

Linda may take a picture of you

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

Clark's Creek Lodge

Clark’s Creek Lodge

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

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

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

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

View of Lake Britton from Clark's Creek Road

View of Lake Britton from Clark’s Creek Road

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

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

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



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

What is Pit River Country?

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Halloween hike at Burney Falls

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

Burney Falls in Autumn

Burney Falls in Autumn

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

Burney Falls in Autumn

Burney Falls in Autumn

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

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

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

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

Bridge above the falls

Bridge above the falls

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

Upper brige

Upper bridge (14)

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

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

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

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

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

Burney Falls in Autumn (5)

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

Micky Mouse and family at Burney Falls

Mickey Mouse and family at Burney Falls

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

Mickey Mouse by Burney Falls

Mickey Mouse by Burney Falls

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

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

Burney Falls in Autumn (12)


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

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

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

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

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

Burney Falls from down the trail (2)

Burney Falls from down the trail (2)

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

Every year the park reduces its personnel in the winter.

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

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

Old growth (2)

Old growth

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

Lower Bridge

Lower Bridge

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

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

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


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

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

Burney Creek below the falls (9)

Burney Creek below the falls (9)

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

Burney Falls (3)

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

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

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

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

“A little.” she replied.

“Ah! Yi dian!”

“Yes. yi dian,” she said.

The man said, “I am Korean.”

“Oh, An nyumg ha shim ni ka!” I said.

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

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

Burney Creek above the falls

Burney Creek above the falls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Burney Creek just above the falls

Burney Creek just above the falls

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


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

BLM hosts archaeology teach-in at Pit 1

On Saturday October 17, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) held a free public archaeology day at BLM campground at Pit 1 just off Hwy 299 between Fall River Mills and Burney. The event was sponsored as part of California Archaeology Month.

BLM archaeology event

BLM archaeology event

Archaeology month is a national program designed to increase the public’s knowledge of our country’s  past.  Each state chooses a month to provide educational materials and hold events in schools and for the public to increase awareness of our archaeological past. The Society for California Archaeology sponsors California Archaeology Month in October.

In Northeastern California, BLM field offices for the Redding, Eagle Lake, and

Applegate districts cooperate to hold a public archaeology day each year. The events are held in a different location rotating between the three offices.

More than a dozen archaeologists, archaeology technicians, and interns from BLM, the US Forest Service (USFS) and Conservation and Land Management (CLM) volunteered there time, knowledge and expertise at this year’s event.

Archaeologists David “Jack” Scott, Devin Snyder and Jennifer Rovenpera came from the Applegate Field Office, accompanied by archaeology technicians Aimee VanHavermaat-Snyder, Christine O’Neill, Jenna Matthews and Lowell Thomas.

Archaeologists Sharynn-Marie Blood and Marilla Martin came from the  Eagle Lake field office. Sharynn Blood is the Program Lead for Cultural Resources at Eagle Lake. The Redding BLM field office was represented by archaeologist Eric Ritter.

Blood explaining local flora

Blood explaining local flora

The USFS was represented by archaeologists Adam Guitierrez from the Almanor Ranger District, Alden Neel from the Hat Creek District, plus archaeology technician Jake Martin from Eagle Lake District.

Two CLM interns from the Alturas Office, Jaileem Merced, and Nate Collison also staffed the event.

The Pit River Tribe also supported the event and several members of the Payute tribe from Surprise Valley also came to participate.

VanHavermaat-Snyder from the Eagle Lake field office helped to organize this year’s event. She said, “This event was really important for us as we wanted to give the public the opportunity to experience archaeology hands-on.”

Vanhavermaat-Snyder explaining the event

VanHavermaat-Snyder explaining the event

The day began with a downpour of much needed rain, but the organizers were undaunted. They set to work building a willow-branch frame for a traditional Northern Payute no-bi and putting up canopies under which to host educational displays for seven stations of “hands-on” learning.

Payute elder observes building of willow frame for a no-bi

Payute elder observes building of willow frame for a no-bi

The stations were designed so the trained archaeologists and botanists could provide adults and children with a fun, informative experience of archaeological skills, Native American culture, and local flora.

Scott taught people to hurl use an atlatl

Scott teaching Lisa to hurl an atlatl

Shortly after 10 a.m., the rain stopped and visitors began to arrive. Activities included building a traditional Northern Payute no-bi, artifact excavation, atlatl-throwing, acorn-grinding, rock-art, tule-weaving, flint-knapping, working with bone tools and bone identification.

Acorn grinding

Acorn grinding

Excavation skills were focused on modern-made artifacts. Visitors were advised that if they found an old artifact they should not deface it or remove it from the site. Removing an artifact from a site destroys it’s provenience and thus decreases it’s archaeological value. In order to fully understand the significance of an object it is important to know its context and location.

Manlla Martin teaching excavation

Teaching excavation skills

The Martins helped to explain techniques of digging and sifting for artifacts.



One fun event was rock painting. There are numerous sites in Northern California where rock pictographs are found. The  language of rock painting is not yet fully understood. Interpretation may involve elements of communication, artistic expression, story telling, and shamanic symbolism. Although some symbols may be universal, others are related to specific tribal nations, historical periods and geographical locations. Therefore, the insight and understanding of tribal elders and cultural officials is essential to penetrating the veil of the past.


Rock painting

Another fun and challenging exhibit was flint-knapping. Using a heavy rock, one strikes a piece of obsidian at an angle to cause the obsidian to splinter into pieces which can then be further chipped with bone tools such as deer antler to produce arrowheads, knives and other tools.



Meanwhile construction of the no-bi continued as mats of tule reed were added to the willow frame.

BLM members proudly standing by an almost-done no-bi

BLM members proudly standing by an almost-done no-bi

One of the delights of the day was meeting such an interesting group of people hosting the event. To give a few examples, Rovanpera, who spent most of the day working on and explaining the no-bi, did her master’s thesis working at a site that was thousands of years old in Northern Minnesota. Ms. Martin worked for her thesis on a site in the Caribbean. Dr. Scott has worked on several excavations in Mexico. Thomas is a musician as well as an archeology technician and thus complements his scientific training with an artist’s intuition. Botanist Merced hails from Puerto Rico and was happy to help me improve my Spanish as we talked.

Jen Rovanpera with no-bi sign

Rovanpera with no-bi sign

Everyone who attended brought their own knowledge and experience. As the day passed, conversation buzzed at each of the booths stringing together pearls of wisdom with practical experience to create a friendly bond of understanding.

Speaking of stringing things together, every child who attended received a bead at each station. When they left they had a nice little bracelet symbolizing the fruit of their accomplishment.

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Filed under Archaeology, Pit River, Pit River Area History, Pit River Country Events, Pit River Tribe

Friends Family and Fall Fishing

Autumn has arrived. The days are shorter and the temperatures are cooler. This is prime time for fishing the waters of the Pit River Basin including Hat Creek, Baum Lake, Burney Creek, and the Pit River.

2 Fishermen on Hat Creek

The temperature of the water in upper Hat Creek remains cool year round. The water in Lake Britton, Fall River, Ahjumawi State Park, and Baum Lake, however, rises in the hot months of the summer. During the warm season the bass in Lake Britton and the waters of the Ahjumawi stay in the deep cooler water or swim in the shady areas by the shore protected by logs where they are more difficult to catch. Now, as the water cools, the fish are rising in the open cooler waters.

In the streams, the trout being planted by Crystal Lake Hatchery are more mature and larger and the fishing areas have fewer fishermen because the hunting season has begun.

I stopped by Burney Sporting Goods and talked with Pat Taylor. He said that trout fishing in Hat Creek was good. Several people had caught six and seven pound trout on Hat Creek. Taylor said that the fishing in Lake Britton was fair to good. He also said that people had been catching crappie.

On Saturday, October 3, I drove to the West Fork of Hat Creek in Cassel. Crystal Lake Hatchery had planted the creek on Friday. Upstream from the bridge I met Bob Lee, and avid fisherman who had come up with two friends from Susanville.

Bob Lee From Susanville

Bob Lee from Susanville

Lee said that this is his favorite spot to fish. Usually, he comes up every year on the first weekend in October with his younger cousin. This year his cousin couldn’t come so he brought two friends.

Lee loves the outdoors and hunting and fishing. He has five children. Though his 13-month old has not yet been able to fish, he has already bought her a fishing rod. His three year old son already fishes. Next week he hopes to go to Colorado with his 15-year old daughter to hunt. His daughter got an elk tag and a deer tag and is looking forward to the opportunity to hunt with her great grandfather who lives in Colorado and hopefully get her first elk.

Lee was really excited to be out because he hadn’t been able to fish since June 19 due to a heart attack.  His enthusiasm was rewarded. Almost every time he threw his line out he got a bite. The first few took the bait. He loaded the hook with PowerBait and tossed it in. As we talked, he suddenly shouted, “I got one!”

Reeling it in

Reeling it in

He gently brought the fish in and removed the hook from the lip and held it up for me to catch a photo.

Lee with fish

Lee with fish

That was only the first. A few minutes later he landed another. Lee had arrived only a few minutes before I came and in the short time I had been there had caught two nice rainbow trout.

Meanwhile down toward the bridge another family had arrived.  I walked down and met Ben and Raquel Searcy from San Jose. They had brought their two six-year-old twins Manuel and Samuel, and their eight-year old daughter Annmarie up for the weekend to fish. Manuel and Annemarie were very happy to show me the fish they had just caught.

Manuel and Annemarie Searcy

Manuel and Annemarie Searcy

I could see that the fish were plentiful. I was also infected by the pride and joy the children felt showing their catch as well as the happiness that their parents experienced. The sky was a clear deep blue. The air was crisp and fresh. The landscape was intoxicating. Everyone was happy. It was a taste of heaven.

I decided to drive farther up Hat Creek to see how things were. I stopped in at the Rancheria RV Park and talked with the owner, Busy Ryman. She said she hadn’t heard about any six or seven pounders but that some fishermen had caught five pounders recently. At Rim Rock Ranch in Old Station I received a similar report.

I stopped in at Bridge Park and met Dan Calestini from Dixon, California. Calestini works in the Vacaville area and has some family in Fall River Mills. Whenever he can get off early Friday evening, he grabs his fishing pole and comes up to Pit River country to visit and fish. Bridge Park on Hat Creek is one of his favorite spots. On this weekend he had brought his granddaughter Clara. They had come fishing with his nephew and his grandson, William Klatt, from Fall River Mills.

I asked how the fishing was and he called out, “William! Show the man your fish.”

William raced and proudly displayed two fish. One he had caught using salmon eggs and nightcrawlers. The other his uncle had caught. Once again I felt the glee.

Dan Calestini with his grandchildren William and Clara

Dan Calestini with his grandchildren and fish

Beaming as he talked about his family and fishing Calestini said,  “There’s nothing like this, being with family outdoors in such a beautiful place. There is something spiritual about it.”

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Filed under Baum Lake, Burney, Fishing, Hat Creek, Lake Britton, Old Station, Pit River, Rancheria RV Park

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.

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