Saturday, October 27, 2007

Mt. Shasta

It's from the locals that you get your best information about a place. Even the briefest conversations always lead to some interesting tidbit of guidance or advice. We would have never known about the headwaters of the Sacramento River in the city park, or the existence of cobra lilies in the meadows near Gumboot Lake if not for the coincidence of chance meetings with people here.

The transient who loitered outside the book store every day gave us the scoop about the headwaters. There is no sign or advertisement or scrap of information in the visitor literature about it, yet this surprising articulate man was adamant we not leave town before seeing it. Ice cold water flows from an underground spring through a lava tube and out into the city park. People go there to collect drinking water.

So we went. We had no idea where in the park this attraction might be. When we found it we were surprised at the humble nature of a tiny pool of water with no marker. I was expecting a huge river, but the water streamed from small hole in a rock outcropping, and not all that forcefully. It was more of a peaceful pool that spilled into a creek. People, one-by-one, kept driving up the the spring unloading their water jugs and gingerly stepping on the stones to the source of the water. Everyone we spoke to agreed that the water was the cleanest, best-tasting water in the world. One couple had come down from Ashland, Oregon to fill their jugs. Many people believe the water has healing properties. Now, I understood why the check-out clerk at Ray's grocery looked so puzzled when, empty jugs in hand, I asked her where the bottled water machine was. She said, "You're not from around here, right?"

We filled a plastic gallon container we had with us and took a few swigs. We all agreed it was great-tasting water, but Robert being less impressed said it just tasted like melted ice. I think I was mostly impressed with the idea of drinking straight from a stream. If I lived here I would probably come here regularly for water. Of course, if I lived here I'd have to become more hippy-like and shed my conservative dress for hemp and hand-knitted apparel and become a vegan to fit in.

Overall, I find the area around Mt. Shasta to be full of interesting surprises, mostly all related to nature. It is such beautiful country and Mt. Shasta is majestic in a special way. It stands so tall and imposing and every sunset throws a dramatic cast on its snowy face to make it even more mesmerizing. I can see how people become convinced it is magical. I can understand how the myths and spiritual movements get started. I, too, would probably find myself drawn into the mysticism if I lived here. Maybe I'd undergo a complete spiritual transformation. I'll never know, because we've got our water jugs filled and are heading to Klamath Falls.

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