Mount Charleston

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My daughter and I, have spent every weekend for the past year hiking, either in Lassen Volcanic National Park, or around Mt. Shasta, in northern California. We moved to Las Vegas in August, and we are searching for new favorite places. This past weekend we started to explore Mount Charleston. Mount Charleston is part of the Spring Mountain Range, and Toiyabe National Forest. Charleston Peak, at 11,916 feet (3,632 m), is the highest mountain in the Spring Mountains. Mount Charleston is located about 35 miles NW of Las Vegas. It’s a refreshing, green, alpine heaven. Last weekend when the temperatures peaked at 109 in Las Vegas, it was 30 degrees cooler there! Only an hour away. One hour, and several thousand feet of elevation that is. 

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The scenery is absolutely breathtaking. The winding roads that takes you there, climbs steadily up, up, up. It was fairly easy to drive all the way to the campgrounds without a 4×4. My daughter had begged me for an adventure, so tent camping it was. She LOVES that. She loves setting up the tent, and create a cool spot for the night. She likes decorating the outside with natural material that she finds, pine cones, rocks etc. My hope was to get us a campsite at Fletcher View Campground, based on reviews at trip advisor, and trails I found at AllTrails app. When we got there all the sites were full. You can’t make reservations in advance from July through September, due to monsoon season. It’s first come first serve only. The gentleman who served as a camp host, approach the car as I drove in to Fletcher View, and asked how he could assist us. I said that we were looking for a tent campsite. He informed us that all of the sites on the whole  mountain (several campgrounds) were taken. (In my head I started to think of a plan B, since we were already packed and VERY ready for an adventure.) He offered us a map, and pointed out a couple places for dispersed camping. Areas where we could camp by ourselves, without an organized campground. He gave us a map, and as I looked at it, I thought that if I had driven my old truck, it would of been a no-brainer, but risking to go on those roads with my Impala..no. 

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I decided to drive by the other campsites, one by one, just in case. My second choice of campground, after Fletcher view, was Hilltop, so I started our search by driving up there. I was not alone. There was a long line of vehicles doing the same thing as I did. All sites were booked. As I drive around Hilltop for the second time, I notice that one of the double sites only have single occupancy. I see a young couple on the right side, but no-one on the left side of this double site. I take a chance and pull over on the side of the narrow road. I approach them and ask if they are expecting company, explaining that all sites are booked. This was on the very top of the hill, at perhaps the best spot of them all. We were so lucky! They were not expecting company, they just got the only site they were able to get, and sold me the other site. I was thrilled, and my daughter very happy. I was almost prepared to drive down the mountain and do something completely different. (Like going to Sedona, or Grand Canyon.) It was great to be able to unload all our things, and put up the tent. 

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My highlight of the whole trip was that my daughter needed to go places to take pictures. Both with the camera that I got her for her birthday, and with mine. She begged me to hike up on different hills, and climb down in narrow canyons. It was a blast! She on the other hand said, that her best thing was toasting marshmallows by the campfire at night. 

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It was chilly in the evening, and it felt great to put on a jacket, and long pants (compared to shorts and t-shirt, the usual summer outfit in our area.)

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The whole trip was a big adventure, and I am so happy that we did it. I would consider myself an experienced camper, and I feel that my skills are solid. Still it feels extremely good when everything just works out. Not a big thing, but in a way a big thing. I want my daughter to see, and experience, that there is not a limit to what’s possible. She wants an adventure? Well, she has to make it happen, and put in the work along with the fun. Which she happily did. I feel that there’s no limit to learning opportunities when you bring a child out in nature; handling a knife, gaining knowledge about poisonous plants and animals, learning about local flora and fauna, safety, wilderness survival skills, where to find water, planning ahead, leave no trace in nature, sharing with others, being respectful etc. etc.  

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My daughter took this picture of me and Gretchen, while playing around with my camera. I haven’t seen the ones she took with her own camera yet.

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Tent camping at Mount Charleston (NV,) was a 5-star experience in my book. Nature does something to my soul, and I know my daughter feels the same way. I feel so blessed that we share this.

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I hope you enjoyed the photos, and maybe feel inspired to visit yourself? If camping is your thing, do you have a favorite camping spot? That you find yourself returning to time after time again? 

Love,

Ms Zen

 

Feel Good Tuesday

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Manzanita Lake, with Chaos Crags in the background. 

How is your week so far? I thought I’d share some feel good photos to inspire your Tuesday. They are from last weekends adventure in Lassen Volcanic National Park, in northern California.

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Teaching children about the natural world should be treated as one of the most important events in their lives.  –  Thomas Berry

As we often do in the weekends, we headed towards the mountains. We have three choices, within easy driving distance for a day outing; the Trinity Alps, Mt. Shasta, and Mt. Lassen. If we want to drive a little longer we have the Sierra Nevada’s as well. Somehow we often find ourselves going to Lassen Volcanic National Park. I’d say it almost feels like a second home. This past year we’ve gone hiking there at least twice a month, often every weekend.

If we want children to flourish, to become truly empowered, then let us allow them to love the earth before we ask them to save it. Perhaps this is what Thoreau had in mind when he said, “the more slowly trees grow at first, the sounder they are at the core, and I think the same is true of human beings.”
-David Sobel, Beyond Ecophobia

Two weekends ago we ended up hiking a little later in the day than usual. It was a hot, and my five year old did not enjoy the hike as much as she usually do. There was some complaining, not like her at all. I do take responsibility for that, since I didn’t anticipate it being so hot on the trail. This weekend I made it my business to make sure she would enjoy it very much. I really wanted to give her the best experience possible. I knew it was going to be the last hike we did together, before she takes off to be with her dad for the rest of the summer. It had to be a good memory!

We started out early, and I’d chosen a much easier hike than we usually do. We picked up a Junior Ranger booklet at the visitor center. It had different animal tracks, and photos of animal, and trees, that are common in the park, for kids to identify. It made it interesting on a different level. The hike itself, around Manzanita Lake, is one that we’ve made more times than I can count. It’s only 2 miles, and very easy. My daughter knows this hike inside out, and knew that it wasn’t going to be very hard. (That itself made it more enjoyable for her.) Especially compared to the adventures we usually go on. My 5 (almost 6!) year old can handle 5 miles on a trail rated difficult, and 8miles on a trail with medium difficulty. 2 easy miles is a breeze. More like a stroll. It was exactly what she needed to make it fun again.

Without continuous hands-on experience, it is impossible for children to acquire a deep intuitive understanding of the natural world that is the foundation of sustainable development. ….A critical aspect of the present-day crisis in education is that children are becoming separated from daily experience of the natural world, especially in larger cities.

– Natural Learning, Creating Environments for Rediscovering Nature’s Way of Teaching, Robin C. Moore and Herb H. Wong

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Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. – Rachel Carson

This is a scenic hike, around the little lake, located very close to one of the entrances. At times it can be highly trafficked, because of its location, and level of difficulty. It’s accessible, and extremely beautiful all year round. I have winter photos in my gallery.

We stopped and had a wonderful picnic lunch half way around. We played in the water for a while. It was impossible to resist. Just the kind of memory I wanted my daughter to take with her.

Let Nature be your teacher. – William Wordsworth

Thanks for enjoying the hike with us! I hope it was a great experience, and that you had as much fun as we did 🙂 Have a blessed day ❤

Love,

Ms Zen

All-Time Favorites – A Debut Drive On The Wild Side = Highway 89

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I almost choked on my coffee this morning. I had to read the latest post published at WordPress’s Weekly Photo Challenge twice. They casually announced that this is the last challenge. I can see that it would be a lot of work hosting a challenge of this size, hundreds of participants weekly, but it’s WordPress we’re talking about. They should be able to handle that? Or is it about stopping leaving us wanting more? Get a huge debate going, so that their challenge get even more attention?

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This weekly photo challenge have followed me through several blogs, until I finally found my niche. I’ve posted an entry almost every week, and made many new friends through the challenge. I even mentioned it in my Purpose page for this blog. I hope they will reconsider ending this challenge. If not, Thank you WordPress for hosting it for so long. I really enjoyed it!

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Last Sunday was the first day of the season that the scenic Highway 89, through Lassen Volcanic National Park was open. Its was a grand opening. I expected nothing less. We drove up to the northern entrance, in the morning. There was a traffic jam there! It took about 30 min to get in. I’ve never experienced that before. It was well worth the wait.

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The first drive through the park for the year is always spectacular. It’s like getting reacquainted with a special, old friend. Even though I’ve been snowshoeing in the park during the winter months, I have not seen all the majestic beauty there is. I rephrase that, it is not possible to ever see it all. It would take several lifetimes.

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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. Last time I passed Sulphur Works (in the photo,) everything was covered in snow. That was about a month ago.

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My daughter have a love-hate relationship to this place. She always wants to go here. She is fascinated, and disgusted at the same time. It doesn’t exactly smell like our rose garden. Lol.

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Nature is blooming right above the hydrothermal area. We decided to take a hike towards Ridge Lakes, above Sulphur Works.

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This hike is rated as hard, and it starts out going straight uphill, right from the beginning. The landscape was extremely beautiful. Like something from another galaxy.

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In the beginning it was reasonably easy to follow the trail, even though it completely lacked any kind of markers. The trail was supposed to follow the creek, so we followed the creek. There was more and more snow on the trail. After a while we took a wrong turn, and ended up hiking up to the ridge to the left, of the ridge that we were supposed to take, if we wanted to see Ridge Lakes. It might not look very steep in this photo, but believe me, it was. You had to dig your boots into the snow, and make your own stairs to get a grip, and climb up. ..and we’re talking about an elevation about 8000ft. The air is thin, and you have to take it slow. I helped my five year old quiet a bit during this stretch. Since we gotten this far, we really wanted to get to the top of that ridge above us. I can be very stubborn..and I used it to get us all up. I know for sure that the rest would of turned around if it wasn’t for me. It’s Thursday today, and I can still feel the climb in my whole body. I love that!

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On the top of the world! I love feeling alive like this. The tracks we made kind of disappears in the photo, that is how steep it was. Half of the hillside beneath me is out of the picture, even though it’s right under me. What do you say about that view?

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It was very windy at the top. I estimate it to around 25-30 mph winds. The baseball cap I was wearing to protect myself from the strong sun, blowed away. I found it later. My daughter took her off. (I know.. she’s the smart one.)

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Some more vistas from the top of this unnamed ridge.

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The grand opening of highway 89 for the season of 2018, was a day to remember a lifetime. Are you tempted to take a drive on the wild side? Conquer this stretch of highway 89? Even if you just follow the highway, and stop at the different, well marked, vista points, you’ll have an incredible experience.

Cheers to a mind-blowing last episode of The Weekly Photo Challenge!

 

Love,

Ms Zen

 

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