Favorite Place – Castle Crags

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Yesterday I was supposed to go snowboarding with a friend. I had been looking forward to it for a while. I haven’t done much snowboarding this winter, and my new snowboard is barely broken in. (Getting 100+ days/year is a fading memory.) I’d just finished packing my stuff, and some yummy lunch, when my friend discovered that his snowboard was stolen, he had it in a storage place. Slightly disappointed we decided to enjoy the day outdoors anyways.

We decided to go snowshoeing above Heart Lake. We rented snowshoes, and drove up there…or almost up there. Two miles from Castle Lake, the trailhead you park at, to hike to Heart Lake, there was so much snow on the road that we decided it wasn’t worth the risk of getting stuck. It had been lots of snow for a few miles, but as we gained elevation the snow depth increased even more. It was only two weeks ago since my last visit there, but there was considerably more snow now, and the temperatures were dropping. The road started to become very icy.

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Of course we couldn’t give up on the day yet, there was still a few hours of daylight left. We decided to visit Castle Crags. It was marvelous, as always. It was the first time I visited Castle Crags National Park that I didn’t see any bears. There’s lots of black bears in this National Park, I usually see them, but I’ve never been bothered by any of them.

I think the majestic granite spires of Castle Crags, in northern California, is one of the coolest places around. I enjoy feeling small, in comparison to the awe inspiring nature in Castle Crags wilderness area. I keep returning. Sometimes to enjoy the view, or show visitors these amazing creations, sometimes for a hike, a picnic, or some silent meditation. It’s definitely one of my favorite places.  Despite everything, it was a great day.

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Do you have a favorite place that you keep returning to?

I hope that you had a wonderful weekend, and that the new week started in the best possible way for you 🙂

 

Love,

Ms Zen

Weekend Coffee Share – First Time With A Saddle!

Would you like to have some scones to go with your coffee this morning? Or maybe you’d like to go all English, and have some tea instead? I had some coffee earlier, I got up at 5am this morning, and now I’m having tea. My daughter insisted on us making scones for breakfast. I didn’t really have any reason to say no, so I made scones with flaxseed. It’s her favorite. I hope you like them. She ate two big ones, but there’s still plenty left. I must admit that I have a hard time resisting warm scones, and green tea is my favorite beverage to go with scones. However, I did make some fresh coffee, if you’d rather have coffee.

How is your week so far? Still raining here. A perfect day for lots of coffee, and tea.. It’s been a wet week, but it is about to change. Next week we’re having sunshine, in the upper 70’s all week. At least that’s what the weather channel tells me. I can’t wait!

I know I told you a few weeks ago, how I got a really nice older ranch saddle. I measured my horse shortly after, and realize that there is no way it’s going to fit him. He is half Arabian, and more athletic than stocky. Yesterday my daughter and I, made a day trip up to Susanville (in the north easter corner of California,) to pick up a saddle in his size. It’s a brand new Barnsby dressage saddle, never been on a horse. I grew up riding English, and even though 99.9 % of the riders around me ride western, it makes sense to teach my horse what I actually know well. I want Ghost to become a brave, versatile horse, with a solid foundation. We have a lot to work with, before hitting the trail. I got a good deal on a high quality dressage saddle, it made sense to me to get it. One of my riding instructors had one just like this one, and when I conditioned her horse for her, I always picked that saddle (she had many.) I loved riding in it. I believe Ghost’s new saddle is going to be very comfortable for both of us. I also believe that Ghost has the potential to excel in dressage. He is a beautiful mover. Nothing wrong with an endurance horse that knows a little more.

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Naturally I had to let Ghost try his new saddle this morning. He have never had a saddle on his back before. It was his very first time. Ghost is a sensitive horse, that thrives on praise. He got lots of praise, while he checked out the strange thing (the saddle,) I brought to him. I had a halter on him, while gently placing the saddle on his back, but he could choose to leave if he felt uncomfortable, he wasn’t tied up, and I didn’t hold him. I sweet talked him through the process. You usually put the saddle on the horse from the left side (with the cinch/girth resting on top of the saddle,) then you walk around to the right side and take the cinch/girth down from the top of the saddle, so its hanging in a way that you can reach it from the left side, then you walk back to the left side, pick it up, and fasten it. With a trained horse this isn’t a big deal. You don’t even think about it. When you saddle a horse for the very first time, you want the horse to stand still until you fastened the cinch/girth tight enough for the saddle to stay on the horse’s back. When you leave the horse side (to get the cinch/girth,) the horse might move, get scared, bolt, or panic. It’s always a consideration the first time you saddle a horse. Everything went well with Ghost. He is used to me moving around him. My cinch was a little too big for Ghost, and I will need to get a shorter one. The saddle however, the most important (and expensive) thing fit him perfectly. Ghost did wonderful, and we’re not going to have any issues with the tacking up process. He turned his head all the way around, and was very interested in the saddle, and what I was doing. His curiosity is a positive trait, a sign of intelligence. He is constantly thinking about what we’re doing. When he accomplished something once, and completely accepted it, then he knows. It’s been like that with every new thing I’ve introduced. The accepting part, can take different amounts of time. With some new things (like having a rope all over/around) it takes him a few sessions to understand, and accept, but when he is comfortable he lets me know, and then I know that is that. He was comfortable today. I am very, very happy with his progress.

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Your turn! Tell me more about your week! What’s the weather like? Is spring in full bloom? I hope your week is wonderful so far, and that you’re weekend will be filled with happiness and good company.

Love,

Ms Zen

Lassen Volcanic National Park

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Last weekend we visited one of my favorite places in the whole world, Lassen Volcanic National Park. The park is located in northern California. For us locals it’s the perfect day/weekend trip. It’s a wonderful place to visit all year round, but the main highway through the park is closed around 9 months every year, due to massive amounts of snow.  The highway is closed now.

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We parked at the south-west entrance, outside Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center. There was a lot of snow, but not the most snow I’ve seen here. I’ve seen the snow reach far above the house.

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We rented snowshoes at Redding Sports ltd, before heading up to the park. I did a lot of snowshoeing growing up, but I haven’t done it in several years. It was the very first time for my daughter.

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Traffic jam at Hwy 89! We started our hike right behind the visitor center, and we did see some people in the beginning. After Sulphur Works we saw very few people.

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Sulphur Works; Lassen Volcanic National Park’s most easily accessed hydrothermal area. It features boiling mudpots and steam vents. It smells a little, but not too bad right now. The smell is worse spring/summer. If you want to visit during winter, you park at the Southwest entrance (like we did,) and hike (preferably with snowshoes, or skies,) about one mile to the north to see them. During summer you can drive all the way, taking Hwy 89 (that takes you through the whole park.)

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This is what the restrooms closest to Sulphur Works looks like now. I thought it was funny, so I had to take a picture.

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I would of gladly carried my snowboard on my back, if I knew there was going to be so much powder on the sides. Next time..

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It looked just perfect, and it itched in me to ride in that beautiful snow.

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It was a gorgeous day. The weather was perfect, around 28 degrees and sunny, most of the time.

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It was warm, warmer than it looks. I was very happy that I’d dressed us in layers. The exercise made us happily loose several of them, on the way up.

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We took our sweet time, and stopped many, many times. We ate a lot of homemade chocolate-energy bars, that we made the day before. My daughter had fun, but she did some complaining, and needed a little encouragement from time to time. If you ever tried snowshoeing, you know how strenuous it can be. We did not follow the road the whole way, we tried some deeper snow as well.

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Despite the occasional complaining, she did beg me to buy her snowshoes of her own, before the day was over. I see that as a success! I highly encourage her to enjoy outdoor sports that interest her. If it’s something I love doing, it’s all the better 🙂

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We hiked a total of 3.7 miles, with the snowshoes.

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With views like this you don’t want to turn around.

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The higher up we climbed, the fewer people we saw.

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There was some though. Do you see the skiers at the bottom in this photo? We turned around about here, but they continued up.

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It was a wonderful, wonderful day. It’s two days later now, and I still feel it in my body. I love that feeling! (My face burns a little as well, even though we used 50SPF. The sun reflecting in the snow is very strong.) Given the choice I’d rather be back there right now, instead of in the valley, we’re supposed to get more rain here today..

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There’s a network of trails through the park, through forests, and around several lakes. It connects with the Pacific Crest Trail in the north. It’s a magical area for hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, photography, wildlife viewing, exploring, birdwatching, meditation, camping, swimming, canoeing, anything your imagination can come up with. … it’s difficult for ones imagination to have a limit here.

I hope you enjoyed the visit!

Love,

Ms Zen