Visit Northern California; McCloud Falls

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In my last post I wrote about having family from other parts of the world over for a visit, and trying to share my world with them. During their last day here I took them to McCloud Falls.

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McCloud River Falls, is a scenic waterway with three amazing waterfalls, along a 4 mile well maintained trail. Located in McCloud, northern California.

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I’ve been there more times than I can count, it is easy accessible for anyone. You can either hike between the falls, or just drive to each one of them. The last time I visited it was winter. It’s a gorgeous destination all year round. It was slightly more people this time around. lol. My relatives enjoyed the natural beauty tremendously. I had thought a lot about what to show them, since they traveled so far. I know that their main thing was to see me, but still. The visit was perfect, in every way. We had a goodbye dinner at Yaks, in nearby Dunsmuir. It is voted one of the top 100 restaurants in America. If you’ve been there you know why! It is extraordinary in every way. If you haven’t been there, make sure to pay them a visit. It’s my go-to place when I have guests. Everyone I ever took there LOVES it. When we said our goodbyes my heart was filled with gratitude, and love. I can’t wait to see them again next summer.

I hope you’re having an amazing week ❤



Ms Zen

Weekend Coffee Share

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Come and have some coffee with me! How do you like your coffee? I’m sitting here contemplating what kind of nature adventure to go on this weekend. We always (with very few exceptions) go for one day trip in the weekend. We do some research, usually over the internet, and set our sails towards an amazing destination in northern California. We drive there, and enjoy the nature for a day. Usually by going for a hike, and having a picnic lunch. If it’s a longer hike we might try some local restaurant for dinner. I’d say that we try a couple new spots every month, and return to a couple favorite spots every month.

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

There’s an endless supply of hikes that are totally doable with a young child. I’m usually the one with the ideas about where to go, but not always. Sometimes we bring friends, but often it’s just quality time for our family. The thing with favorite spots that we return to, is that besides the obvious pleasure of getting to know a place better, and enjoy it more than once, I turn it into a homeschooling project for my daughter. The first time we visit it’s usually like today, a spontaneous decision, to a destination we decide around breakfast time. I believe in learning by doing. Lessons that you experience with all your senses; smell, feel, taste, sight, and hearing really stays with you for a life time. Before we return a second time to a place, my daughter and I read everything that we can find about the place, and the places we will pass on the way there; history, legends, traditions, and local flora & fauna. Since the places we visit are at the most 3-4 hours from our home, usually 1-2 hours from home, we get to know our area well. Both my daughter and I like to know our surroundings. It feels good to be familiar with, and experience a sense of belonging to the place where you live, even (or maybe especially?) if you weren’t born there. My mom taught me this approach to life. I’ve explored every place I’ve lived in like this, and I’m so grateful for the memories, and life lessons this have given me.

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. – John Muir

I have a couple ideas for today’s adventure. One is about an hour drive away, and includes a waterfall. My second adventure idea that I’m going to suggest is 3 hours away, and a bigger adventure. We’ll see what my family votes for. I’ll be sure to tell you next weekend. Last weekend we ended up going to one of our favorite places; Lassen Volcanic National Park. You can read about that adventure here. So this weekend both my ideas are places we haven’t experienced before. Do you have any fun plans for the weekend? Need a refill on that coffee?

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Homemade tomato cage, made out of old field fencing.

It’s been a little windy here this week around 15 mph, and temperatures in the mid 80’s. Pretty pleasant weather. The days are beautiful this time of the year. (Before the heat arrives.) My garden is doing good. Noting spectacular have happened since last week, but everything is growing as it should. I added some more herbs to my container garden; sage, parsley, and dill. The herbs that I already planted (from seed) earlier; cilantro, lavender, basil, and oregano are starting to come up. Especially the cilantro is thriving. Cilantro seem to like it here, I usually have lots of it in the summer. I also planted a mix of organic greens in a big container this week. I’m already eating my baby spinach, so I’m going to need more greens soon. Some of the fig cuttings, the ones that I planted directly in soil, are starting to show some new growth. That’s exciting.

I have started to make tomato cages out of old field fencing, that I got for free off Craigslist. I love repurposing materials. It feels good to do that. I still need to make more cages. My tomatoes are growing, and it is going to be a priority this coming week. I have around 20 tomato plants, in a couple different varieties. I choose two smaller types of tomatoes this year. For two reasons, my daughter loves cherry tomatoes, and our heat often crack the bigger varieties before they have a chance to get any where near being ripe. Last year I grew lots of heirloom rainbow tomatoes. They were big, juicy, sweet, and absolutely delicious, but a bigger number than I would of liked got cracked by the sun. The year prior to that, I only grew cherry tomatoes, and did not encounter that problem. I have some more tomato seedling on the way. I’m going to plant those in containers. The 20 plants I Have now are planted in the ground. 

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Fancy helping me keep the grass down around my garden.

My horses, Ghost and Fancy, had an interesting week. I’ve been continuing going out to their pasture for around an hour a day (besides the regular care/training,) to read a book, just hanging out with them, to get Ghost to come on more friendly terms. He’d been acting very jealous of my time with Fancy. It started with him throwing a fit whenever I worked with her, later he started to distance himself from me, and now it actually escalated a bit further with him biting and chasing Fancy. It has been a tough week for her. A few days ago Ghost took a big bite out of Fancy’s shoulder. He took a lot of skin off, and it was bleeding, but was not very deep. I’m taking care of it myself, since it wasn’t deep. It’s healing good. This unexpected thing with Ghost is heavy on my mind. Luckily it’s the only cloud on my horizon, so I can deal with it. 

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Ghost’s summer coat is gorgeous. Those dapples are more defined in his summer coat. I’ve always been amazed with how much a horse can change in appearance from winter, to summer. The first mustang I adopted had a bay (brown) winter coat, and black mane/tail. In the summer he turned silver, still with black mane/tail! That’s the most extreme color change I’ve seen. 

My daughter and I had a fantastic week, with many interesting conversation, and spontaneous singing! She’s been starting to make up songs about people she loves, and things we do, and been entertaining me with them while we’ve been working with different projects. I love it! 

We went to an educational show with wild animals on Thursday; A Walk On The Wild Side. It’s a show featuring local wildlife, that been orphaned (or lost their captivity for other reasons,) explaining why we need them in our eco system, while showing us the animals up-close. It’s going to be a daily show, at Turtle Bay Exploration Park, over the summer. It just started this week. We enjoyed it very much. 

I hope your week was marvelous! If you are a mother, be sure to enjoy your weekend a little extra! Happy Mother’s Day!


Ms Zen

Story 2 – A Snow Saga


A few months ago, I search for new hiking trails to explore. I found Castle Lake Trail, near Dunsmuir (CA.) It looked very interested. I hiked it, and a nearby adjoining trail up to another lake, Heart Lake. I found the nature to be extraordinary beautiful, and I’ve been returning at least once a month to this amazing trail. I’ve seen some snow on the trail before, but nothing like last weekend!

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It’s a couple miles uphill to get to Heart Lake, from the parking lot at Castle Lake. The hike is very rocky, when it’s not snow on the trail. This weekend however the snow reached my thighs most of the time. On some places the snow was hard, and I could walk on top of it, but on many places I had to walk through the snow. It was slightly exhausting, but well worth it! My daughter was light enough to not sink, and she had a blast. We still had to stop a few times on the way up. The hike is rated as moderate, and it is a little strenuous for a five year old to hike up. Totally doable though. We took the time we needed, and enjoyed ourselves, and the view.

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Just before reaching Heart Lake, there’s a big rock formation to your right. The local calls it Castle Rock. As we climbed up on it, this was the view that greeted us. The white snow-covered mountain in the background is our volcano, Mt Shasta. Isn’t it gorgeous? I LOVE all the untouched snow.

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This is the view from the top of Castle Rock, with a frozen Castle Lake down to the left, and Mt Shasta in the clouds to the right. Below is the exact same view, taken during a hike in November last year. (Both are available as prints in my gallery.)


I can’t decide which scenery I find the most beautiful, with, or without the snow. I recently read a poll in an online outdoor magazine, that Siskiyou County, where this amazing hike is located, is rated top ten among the most desirable places to live for outdoor enthusiasts. Which is kind of interesting, since the county isn’t very populated. It has many remote places that rarely see people, and the towns are small towns. Maybe it’s  on peoples wish lists, but to actually live there isn’t doable for most people (jobs etc.) ? I don’t live there, but would definitely consider it, if I could make a living there year round. It doesn’t get too hot in the summers, and not too cold in the winters.

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My dog loves this hike. On the upper part of the trail the visibility is good, above the tree line, and I can usually let her off leash, which she loves. Near the trail head I always have her on leash.

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Another shot of her enjoying some off leash time. Heart Lake is on the left side in this photo, but unless you know it is a lake there, you couldn’t see it. The lake is completely frozen, and covered with a thick layer of snow. Heart Lake is located in a little “mini valley”. The snow builds up fast there, in between Castle Rock, and the ridge on the other side. The two previous times I did this hike, people were ice skating on Heart Lake. It would not of been possible to ice skate there now.

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I very much prefer snow in the winter, compared to the endless rain in the valley. It’s a great blessing to be able to enjoy the mountains around us in the weekends. The fresh mountain air, and the light does so much to revitalize my spirit. It also feels like I share a piece of my home with my daughter, even though “my home” was a mountain very far away from this one. Strangely enough, when you grew up in the mountains, all mountains sort of feels like home.

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I think this photo, and the one in black and white of my daughter, is my two favorites from last weekend. Ooo, I almost forgot! One of the most memorable thing was sliding our way down the mountain, on the way back. My daughter and I “belly-slide” (my daughter’s expression,) down. We didn’t have a sled with us, but our winter clothes did the trick. I hope you enjoyed my Winter-Saga-Story. I enjoyed sharing it with you!



Ms Zen