Over Memorial Day weekend, two of my friends, Karl and Corey, and I had an amazing time camping and exploring the forests and craggy peaks surrounding Mount Shasta. However, that was not the original plan. It’s not uncommon for me to be photographing a wedding or two over Memorial Day weekend, so I often don’t plan anything ahead of time. This year, however, I happened to have it free so I made plans a month or so in advance to hike the Lost Coast of Northern California. I had been wanting to do this trip for a number of years so I was super excited.
While researching the trip, I read on a blog that there wasn’t a reservation system for the Lost Coast. You just needed a permit, but there was no indication that there was any restrictions on the number of people that could hike the Lost Coast on any given day. Accepting this as true, I made the mistake of waiting until the morning of our departure to purchase our backcountry permit, and I unfortunately found out that just last year the forest service implemented a reservation system and permits were sold out several months in advance. Big bummer. Lesson learned.
My friends and I then decided to make a last-minute decision to drive down to Mount Shasta and sort out a backpacking trip on the way. Upon our arrival, we found out that all of the good multi-day backpacking trails at Mount Shasta were still under snow, and we weren’t prepared for that kind of trip. Despite this second setback, we were not to be discouraged!
After a bit of sleuthing at the Mount Shasta visitor’s center, we found out about a great free campground at Gumboot Lake that we used as our base of operations while we explored the area. We went on a great day hike up the mountain overlooking our campground, which connected to the Pacific Crest Trail, where we found a pretty spectacular tree shaped like a fork and a precious green stone lodge in a tree stump. Upon returning to our camp we rescued a baby doll (which may or may not have been possessed) from a tree overlooking Corey’s hammock. Previous campers had strung it up by the neck and tossed it up there, and it was casting a really bad vibe on our site, so I had to back my Subaru underneath the tree, stand on the roof, and poke the baby doll with a hiking pole until it fell down. I then found a much more comfortable spot for the baby to sit on a rock in the sun. The vibe got a whole lot better after that.
Over the next two days we swam at ice cold waterfalls, hiked a craggy dome at sunset, and visited a heart-shaped lake with a great view of Mount Shasta. Seeing as how we had to pretty much wing the entire trip I’d call it a huge success! 🙂 — KC