Thursday, July 29, 2010
Mama Shasta and Mama Lassen's Volcanic Love: burning hearts of the pacific crest
listen to your mothers.
when I first rode along the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway, toward Mt Lassen in upper California, I could immediately feel the intense energy that still flows almost 100 years after Lassen's major eruption in May 1915. A week later, I take for granted the lava rock debris constantly under our feet, the holy igneous boulders we sit on that line the creeks. We are covered in red dust by day but under moonlight the same dusty hills become purple and magical. And from the pines that do stand here, hang mammoth cones and coalesce chunks of amber.
they are the southern saints. before Mt Saint Helens erupted in 1980, the most recent continental USA volcanic eruption was from Lassen. when you are here, imagine what your surroundings looked like just one hundred years ago, old-growth forest all around. let your hooves brush the ground. "a brief moment in the ancient battle between earth-shaping forces of creation and destruction." -nps.gov website
camping at the foot of lady lava lamp Lassen for three july nights, each day was scorching dry heat but as soon as the sun set this amazing breeze blew through, becoming more constant as the night went on. it is this mix of warm and cool, dry but green, that I can see why so many people have found comfort living among these volatile hills.
Mount Shasta is even more majestic, a place so intensely powerful I barely can write about it! But John Muir was able to - after his first visit he said "my blood turned to wine and I have not been weary since." such is the praise which people have given this mountain, sacred to several indian tribes and a center for many more recently-arrived spiritual paths. A fellow traveler mentioned a visit where there was a band singing songs to the dormant volcano. it is said there is a city inside the mountain, Telos, and various accounts of visiting the Lumerian city of Telos can be found around the web.
she rises over 14000 feet, always snowcapped, regardless of the warm dry air below her. she is the second-highest volcano of all of the Cascades, and visible from sixty miles in almost all directions. in the evening light, her bare rock face turns a purple-grey tint as she looks down upon the Juniper Flats her long-ago eruptions helped create. Her most recent eruption was 200 years ago, on the north face (Military Pass) where we spent the most time.
in the town of Mt Shasta on the west ("front side"), which I said was like a Lhasa for the US, the city park holds the headwaters of the Sacramento River, main watersource for the north part of the Central Valley. water just flows out of the mountainside into a pool, where visitors fill water containers, bathe their faces and arms, meditate, discuss spiritual matters.
there was hardly enough time to go to Panther Meadows, the renowned gathering space and hiking area way up on the tree-line, that will be for next visit! and telos. but out there on the dusty "military pass" road on the north we saw enough.
giant shadows spread across adjacent mountain the Whaleback with no clouds or airplanes above. large animal tracks of different animals in the red dirt. and of course, tall pines and porous lava rock everywhere. amid that cool dry night breeze. the breeze of life. it was a blessing from Mama Shasta, a fitting end for this amazing trip, a wish and destiny fulfilled, to stand in the presence of such a powerful, awe-inspiring place, the image of many dreams, the "heart-chakra of the pacific crest," the destination of the Coyote.
I will visit you again, mothers.
various Mt Shasta webpages: