Shasta Dam – Upper Sacramento Ditch Trail

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Amazing nature feeds my soul, keeps the smile on my face, and helps me stay grounded. In the weekends, either Saturday, or Sunday, we usually make a day trip to a beautiful location in northern California. When we get there we hike for at least a couple hours, often 4-5 hours. We have some places we come back to time after time, that we know we like a lot. Some weekends we try new spots. This routine gives us something to look forward to, and the exercise encourage us to be active the rest of the week as well.

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Last Sunday we went to Shasta Dam. We’ve been there many times, and it is a favorite. First we walk out on the dam. Just strolling around, enjoying the scenery. It’s a concrete arch-gravity dam, across the Sacramento River.

The first photo in this post is of the reservoir. Standing on the bridge looking to the right. It’s actually California’s largest reservoir. Shasta Dam played an important role in World War II, providing massive amounts of electricity. It is still an important provider of hydro electric power. The second, and third photo, is looking down on the spillway, on left side.

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When we get our fill of scenery from the dam, we get our backpacks from the car, and head out on the Upper Sacramento Ditch Trail. Along the trail you can view the dam, and Mt.Shasta, from a distance.

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I love this trail. We had our picnic lunch next to where my daughter stands, in the photo above. The trail has several creeks along the sides, and you cross a few bridges. The forest is dense on both sides. Lots of manzanitas, pine trees, scotch broom, and various other brush (including poison oak. I actually made up a little game, to encourage my daughter to avoid poison oak. Every time she saw poison oak, she pointed it out, and got a point. Ten points gave her a small price.) This time of the year there’s lots of color, yellow, purple, blue, and green. The air is so fresh, scented by pine and flowers.

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My faithful hiking buddy loves this trail as well. We usually stop at every creek we pass to play. Both my daughter, and my dog loves water. I kind of have to stop..at least for a few minutes. The thing with this trail is that you can hike as long as you want, and then turn back to the parking lot, the same way you came. You’re guaranteed to have an amazing experience no matter the distance you hike. If you want to hike the whole thing, it’s 16.8 miles. I haven’t done that yet, since my daughter have been with me every time I hiked this trail. Originally this ditch brought water to the gold miners in the area.

The difficulty of the trail is moderate. Some hills, but not steep ones. It’s a very well maintained trail, with great footing. You will probably see some mountain bikers on the trail (they like to ride the whole trail,) and maybe even some equestrians (usually on the southern parts.)

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View of Shasta Dam, and Mt.Shasta from the north section of the trail.

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I very much enjoy seeing the dam from this point of view. I used a telephoto zoom lens to take this photo, and the next.

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The dam itself is extremely popular for boating in the summer. I haven’t tried that yet. When I drive by during summer it always looks so crowded, and that’s not really my thing. (I’m sure you can find less crowded times, and that it is wonderful to go boating at those times. It just looks crowded every time I pass by.) The trail however is wonderful to do all year round. Be sure to bring plenty of water, every season, but especially during the hot months (April-Oct.) I highly recommend hiking in the morning during those months.

Do you feel like visiting Shasta Dam yourself? Maybe give the ditch trail a shot? The trail head (well marked, just before the parking lot,) is right next to Shasta Dam’s visitor center, and there’s plenty of parking space. You can take a tour of the dam, and visit the inside of it. I haven’t done that yet, but I would really like to do it in a near future.

This is the address to the visitor center: 16349 Shasta Dam Blvd, Shasta Lake, CA 96019.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Happy Trails!

 

Love,

Ms Zen

Osprey

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Yesterday during our traditional Sunday hike, we saw two Ospreys working on their nest. The nest was already huge, but they kept adding material for hours. We saw them in the beginning of our hike, and later when we returned.

I believe Ospreys are my favorite bird of prey. I think they are cool. I really enjoy watching them. The Osprey population is growing, and they are not an endangered species. I took many photos of them yesterday, but these two are my favorites. (Safely purchase prints with any credit card, via my gallery through Fine Art America. Just click on the photo you like, to see different alternatives. World wide shipping. Money back guarantee.)

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Ospreys are sometimes called River Hawk, Sea Hawk, or Western Osprey. Their mainly feeding of fish in rivers, lakes, and the ocean. One of their super powers is that they can see extremely well under water.

The Osprey is a hawk, but yet so different from other family members, that it is classified as a separate type of bird. You recognize them easily by how they fly, their wings almost looks like they are broken. They take the shape of an “M” when they fly. Their  movements are still smooth, and very fluid. Watching them makes me smile. They are truly magnificent birds.

More photos from yesterdays hike in amazing NorCal to come..to be continued.. 🙂

Love,

Ms Zen

Productive Organic Gardening On A Budget

 

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The theme  of the weekly photo challenge this week is; Smile. Growing my own food makes me smile, in many ways. Literally because I enjoy working in my garden, and internally because it makes me feel good eating organic food. My conscious also smile back to me when I try to lessen my ecological footprint, by eating a more locally produced plant based diet.

The photo above is an 11 day old Squash seedling. My daughter was smiling while planting the tiny seed 11 days ago, and she’s been smiling while watering it, and checking the growth every day since then. Today we had to replant the seedling (photo below,) into a bigger (repurposed) pot, since it outgrew its tiny seed starting cell. I saw another big smile on her face (and I’m pretty sure I smiled myself as well,) when we carefully lifted the little plant, and saw the intricate root system already developed. That’s pure magic! Don’t you think?

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I believe that you are what you eat; mind, body and soul. I enjoy growing my own food.  My ultimate dream is to have a small homestead, and be as self sufficient as possible, producing the majority of my family’s food myself. I’m slowly working my way towards that goal, by growing as much organic produce as I can every spring/summer, and by continue my learning process about how to do it (by reading, doing my own garden, and helping out at farms in my area.) I love that gardening is a lifelong learning process. 

Yesterday when my daughter and I was making lunch, she was cutting celery, and started to ask me questions about why sellers is good for us to eat. We talked about how it is an excellent source of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, and I mentioned a study I read recently about its cancer fighting powers. I remember seeing a photo of someone (in a garden group I’m a member of,) planting celery leftovers. So we read a little more about that, and tried it. According to what we learned you can cut it straight off at the root, saving a few inches, and place it in water for a few days. You’re going to se it start growing new celery in the middle first, and a couple days later the roots are supposed to come.

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This was what it looked like this morning, already started to grow new celery in the middle. Maybe even a root under? Not sure. When it develops a root system you can plant it either in a pot, or outdoors if the temperature is right. Both my daughter and I, are very excited about this. It’s the first time we try growing celery like this. I try to expand my garden to some new varieties every year. Especially if I can find something my daughter really enjoys, it certainly makes it easier to motivate her to eat her vegetables.

I cook all the food we eat from scratch, and I use a lot of garlic in our food. You’re supposed to plant garlic in the fall, for a harvest next year. I didn’t know that you actually can plant it in the spring as well, with a slightly smaller harvest. I spent some time learning about that this morning. You can trick the garlic that it is still winter, by having the garlic in the fridge. Conveniently, I had organic garlic in my fridge. Having my soil and everything out already, after replanting some seedlings earlier, I decided to try my knew found knowledge. Nothing like learning by doing 🙂

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I took two garlics, that I carefully opened up, and then I choose the biggest cloves. It was suggested to plant three cloves in a small pot, carefully leaving the white skin on the cloves.

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Plant with the pointy side up. The soil is supposed to be loose, and moist. After planting them, water, and then sprinkle either airy soil, or shredded leaves over the garlic.

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I sprinkled seedling soil on top. Just a little bit. Garlic like to be moist, and have at least six hours of full sun when they are growing. I’m planning on transplanting mine outside when they get bigger. Did you know that you can eat every part of the garlic? The cloves, the skin (huge antioxidant,) the sprouts – everything. I’ve never planted garlic in the spring before, and I’m curious about what kind of impact this late planting, is going to have on the harvest.

I’ve been experimenting with organic gardening on a slim budget, for the past 5 years. I’m a homemaking, homeschooling mom, that for the most part been alone in my responsibility to raise a healthy, happy little girl. Especially during the first years my creativity was often tested to the max, when it came to providing healthy food, due to limited finances, and moving a lot. I’ve lived and I’ve learned. I’ve kept track of different methods I’ve tried, and how I adapted them to fit new places we moved to. I’ve had everything from an 80 acres ranch, to a small RV pad. I’ve tried regular gardening in fields (still organic,) raised beds, container gardening, and combinations of them. I’m planning on publishing what I’ve learned, along with photos, and Pro’s/Con’s with different methods in a book. Eating healthy organic food doesn’t have to cost a lot, and it is possible to build a productive organic garden even if you have a very small space, live in an apartment, or an RV. I’d like to share how. If you have more space, that’s wonderful, and you can grow even more, keeping your costs down when using a few tricks I’ve learned along the way. My goal is to have my book ready for publishing this fall, around harvest time. If everything goes well. It’s a fun project, that also makes me smile. I haven’t told anyone about it until today.

What makes you smile this weekend?

Love,

Ms Zen