Monday, August 3, 2009

Hiking McCloud Falls

After my dear husband took our tender footed, long haired dog on a 12 mile free run along the Clikapudi trail of Shasta Lake, the kids and I spent hours brushing and cutting stickers out of the poor dog who had torn up his foot pads and limped for days. I also caught poison oak out of the deal, but I'm not bitter or anything.

Well, the dogs need still need exercise, as do I, so I decided to search for some hikes the whole family could enjoy. The goal is to keep them short enough to not tear up the dogs feet, shady enough to not kill us, and to try to avoid masses of stickers and poison oak which cause work and pain later. Luckily, Northern California is full of beautiful locations that fit the bill, and I'm finding some dog-friendly ones as well.

Near the foot of Mt. Shasta, along the McCloud River, are several gorgeous waterfalls. Nurum-wit-ti-dekki or “the falls where the salmon turn back” as the native Wintu people called it, is now known as the Lower McCloud Falls. Personally, I liked the original name better, even with the English translation, but my husband didn't think it had a good ring to it.

We went on a warm Saturday afternoon, and the beach was crowded with families enjoying picnics, swimming and jumping off the falls into the icy water. We prefer less people, so we headed up the trail along the river a couple of miles to the Middle Falls stopping to swim and snack along the way. We even came upon a patch of yummy wild raspberries growing in the warm sun along the banks of the river. At one point, the trail goes past a handy campground just above the river which I put on my mental list of places to stay in the future.

At Middle Falls, we all jumped in. It was beyond frigid, but we felt awfully refreshed once we got out. Only our huge hairy dog stayed in for more than a few minutes, and he actually seemed to enjoy it. He actually came out cleaner than I have possibly ever seen him. There were only a few other people up there, and even fewer who hopped in. My dog swam out to rescue them, even though none needed or desired to be rescued by a 120 pound beast. We saw one testosterone fueled teenage boy jump from a rocky cliff side halfway up the falls and land less than gracefully in the icy pool. Luckily, he did not injure or kill himself which would have ruined a perfectly good day for everyone around. The sun was high in the sky at this point, and we could tell the big dog wasn't going to enjoy hiking another few miles round trip to see the upper falls, so we headed back, again stopping along the way. Back at the car, we were able to drive to within a short walking distance to the upper falls- more gorgeousness.

The lovely day was topped off by cheeseburgers and fries at the Burger Barn in Dunsmuir. They probably had three times the amount of calories we burned on the hike, but were mighty tasty in any case.

All in all, we had a wonderful day at the beautiful falls where the salmon turn back.

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