The Upside

Trip Start Jun 22, 2010
Trip End Dec 15, 2011

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Flag of United States  , California
Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The night before we had glimpsed portions of Mount Shasta through the clouds as the moonlight reflected off the snow. I had hoped we would wake to clear skies and clear views of the volcano. Unfortunately we woke to cloud covered skies and light drizzle. It was the last day of our vacation, and things were not going as hoped. Fingers crossed that it would clear up as the forecast predicted, we stuck to our plan of hiking at Castle Crag's State Park. We pulled into the park to discover that the road was blocked off as it was being resurfaced. " Seriously?" Mikes asked. Luckily, the park ranger explained we could still do our desired hike with an extra half mile to the trail head.

 It was chilly as we headed through the woods. Luckily the path began at a lower incline, but soon we were walking uphill through the damp cool air. “I’m not sure if I want to go all the way up,” Mike panted explaining how he was feeling drained from the previous day’s driving if not also from the two week trip. “Let’s just see how we feel and play it by ear.” I suggested.  The climb up at least eliminated the chill as our heart rates and breathing increased. We crossed the Pacific Crest Trail and kept heading up the side of the mountain. I suspect Mike was about to throw in the towel when a break in the trees and a slight break in the clouds revealed the granite crags and spires of our destination.  We continued up and up. As we approached our destination, all but a few conifers remained and the trail changed from soil and pine needles to rocks and small boulders.

The clouds swirled around the giant plutons adding a mystical and almost dream-like quality as we navigated our way up and over the rocky path. The crags did resemble a medieval castle bordered by tall granite towers. I don’t know if it was the fog or the fatigue that contributed to the sense that we were wandering through our own fairy tale where a dragon or a knight may appear needing to be slain. The end of the trail was not marked, so we continued exploring the large boulders at the tops of the Crags. As the rocks became slickers and steeper, we determined we had definitely gone beyond our goal. As we retraced our steps, the clouds began to dissipate from around the crags. However, they still clung to the surrounding mountaintops. We could see more than earlier and enough to see that on a clear day, the views must be incredible.  I couldn’t help but be disappointed that the weather was not cooperating. On a positive note, we had made it to the top, a mere 2200 foot climb to the spectacular Castle Dome.  And a six mile hike is a great accomplishment especially on a yucky day when all you want to do is stay in bed.

Five uneventful hours later, we arrived home to sunny skies in Monterey.  Our two dogs, Harley and Riesling were all waggy tails as they greeted us. The Wednesday night sailing club was in full effect as dozen of sailboats dotted the sapphire water of the bay.  Our vacation was over, but I had nothing to complain about.   
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