We ended up in Mt Shasta early. After climbing around Bishop, we made our way through to Yosemite National Park which we were super excited about. However, once in the park we realized that all our plans had to be thrown out the window because the Yosemite Valley was full of smoke from nearby forest fires.
We spent two nights camping and doing what we could (not much so we caught up on some work) but then decided to cut our loses and head for northern California where hopefully the air would be cleaner. The drive was beautiful and we covered some new territory that we had been looking forward to for a long time. In the shadows of Mount Shasta we drove around looking for free camping. We were hoping to find a spot at the free campground near Crystal Lake but they were all full. Finding space would become a battle for the next few days with everyone on the west coast traveling through on their eclipse-bound road trips. We were doing the same so couldn’t be too mad, so we jumped in the amazing lake and felt instantly better.
Refreshed, we drove a few miles away into the forest where there was lots of free dispersed camping. We found a nice spot near a river with lots of grimy hippy kids. These were like the people we are used to seeing sleeping on the beach in Ocean Beach, San Diego, so we weren’t too bothered by them. After being there only a few minutes a Forest Service ranger pulled into the area and about 10 of the hippie bums casually walked off into the woods, warning us as they went that the cops were here. Eventually the ranger came and walked through our camp, telling us to we might want to camp elsewhere. We didn’t find anyone threatening and kept to ourselves as did they. Our only complaint was that their drum circle that lasted til 2am. They were actually really good musicians, we just weren’t into it at the time. This was our introduction to Mt Shasta Norcal hippies.
The next day we payed for a campground with showers and laundry and enjoyed Lake Siskiyou by renting a stand-up paddleboard for the first time ever. Mt Shasta was beautiful in the background and we hoped to come back later to hike the mountain.
On our last day in the area we hiked the McCloud River Trail, an easy, scenic hike which takes you by three different waterfalls, each with its own swimming hole and cliff jumps. We didn’t end up getting in because the cold mountain water was just too frigid! We couldn’t do it. It was great just to stick our feet in and admire the powerful waterfalls.