Thursday, May 1, 2014

MT Shasta On It's Own Terms

Mt Shasta On It's Own Terms   

Stories abound that 14,000 foot Mt. Shasta in California is "the" place to visit if
Mt Shasta
you're on a spiritual quest. Many consider it akin to a sacred pilgrimage to go to the mountain because on the mountain one is sure to experience UFO's, Ascended Masters, Lemurians or Atlanteans, the White Brotherhood, Elders, Crystal Cities, Vortexes and every New Age idea you can imagine. And so, we did our own research about Mt Shasta, called "spiritual leaders" and tour guides living there, then investigated everything we were told. 

Some of what we were told felt prickly; a few were clearly selling tours; and some we talked to were downright incorrect. One person gave us useful information about dry conditions and fire hazards and said, "Go to the Visitor's Center before doing anything else."  That was worthwhile!
Panther Meadows Springs
For decades we've read all the stories about sightings and vortex energy spots and "beings" appearing here and there on the mountain. Those things are still very important to many who visit the area as they clearly want to see or feel that which they've read about. But we left all that behind as it was no longer relevant to what we wanted to experience. We decided to visit the mountain without guides or any preconceived ideas and allow Mt Shasta to speak to us On Its Own Terms. This is that story.
The town is about 7 miles to the trail-head of the mountain which dominates the skyline. The town is very small with not much to show for such a major destination. We used the Best Western as a base for the surrounding area because of its location and convenient restaurant. Especially as most restaurants in town were closed by the time we came down the mountain. 
With the map provided by the  Visitor's Center and a small guide-book created by local shops as a form of advertising we set off on our own expedition.  After passing
Grandmother Ponderosa
a few campsites we walked well-marked trails leading up the mountain. Its year-round snow covered face looms over all approaches like a watchful guardian. 
The climb is demanding but spectacular. At 7,500' the trail opened to an extraordinary meadow filled with brilliantly colored flowers. The border of the meadow was surrounded by tall firs and pines. It was like stepping into an Impressionistic painting and becoming part of the scenery. With no one else around we reverently breathed the serene pure feelings of Panther Meadows in homage to the mountain. Then we heard the sound of running water and soon discovered it was a spring bubbling above and below the meadow. The Native American Wintu tribe believe humans first bubbled into creation at this spring. It was easy to agree with that because the meadow made us feel we'd stumbled upon the water kingdom in the Garden of Eden.

Everything on the mountain felt immense, historical, grand in scope, and waiting to tell a story. As we continued to climb the mountain we entered groves of towering 180' Ponderosa Pines. They grew in circles with the long dead great-grandmother tree stumps standing witness to the newer growth of daughter and grand-daughter trees. Respecting the burnt out shells of the ancient trees, we placed stones found at their base into a circle and entered a meditative communion with the trees. The sweet smells of the trees carried on the winds of the air kingdom as we gently chanted to the glory of what they had been and what they'd left as a legacy.   
Spring Source
We continued to climb above the tree line, meeting only one or two people on the trail. Eventually we entered the domain of the lava fields of volcanic stone deposited over centuries of eruptions. Here the mineral kingdom was displayed in its most base condition. Fire and explosions had formed the mountain with the deposits of rocky stones leaving a visible imprint of the power of earth, creation, and destruction. The now cold stones left a crunching wide path across the face of the mountain begging for visitors to reflect on what the fire kingdom had created there above the tree line. We did.
This visit to Mt Shasta was a reverent tribute. So, what did it share  with us during those days on the mountain? As if aware that someone was really listening, it conveyed its 593,000 year old life story. Observant of what it was showing, we
Lava Fields
experienced its extremes in temperatures - warm below and cold above. We felt the heat retained in the enormous boulders we leaned on even as the air cooled us. We drank ice-cold water from its pure springs while butterflies danced around us. While walking its many trails it shared its violent volcanic past while regaling us with its present peaceful beauty. In its groves and meadows and lava fields it told us stories of death and resurrection and death again. It reminded us of the ever changing cycles of nature and that nothing is permanent. And it suggested that in this natural cathedral, all the history of the earth could be found, including the arrival of humans from its watery depths.
We met the mountain on its own terms and were well served in what she revealed: The majesty of life, death, rebirth and continuity!

Jo Mooy - May 2014