Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Road to Castle Crags, Redding/Dunsmuir CA 06/30/06

I went to high school in Central Valley, just north of Redding, and south of Dunsmuir where Castle Crags State Park lies.Lived there for about 6 or 7 years and never climbed the Crags. Although I knew where every swimmin' hole and sneaky falls and secluded coves were on the lakes and rivers, the Crags were not my stompin' grounds. I do have very fond memories of my high school days and the lake. Being that close to such recreation was unbelievable. It was the mid 70's and I felt a youthful freedom, and life was carefree and adventurous. It couldn't have been better.

And I'm glad to see that not much has changed in Central Valley, except they've gone and changed the name to City of Shasta Lake for some reason.

So, on our way to the Crags we pulled into the Circle-K in Central Valley to stock up on water and trail food, then drove past my old high school and the house where I used to live, then headed up to the Crags.

The temps were hovering at 100 degrees in Redding but the Castle Dome Trail is covered by a pine/fir canopy and we stayed pretty comfortable, until we reached the granite Crags. We rested often and kept hydrated and fueled.
The first glimpse of the Crags' vertical granite slabs through the trees is so so exciting. They tantalize and lure you ever upward. Then suddenly the leafy trail gives way to rocky shoals and towers of granite begin to rise up out of the ground and soon you're clambering on the rock.Having our fill of the majesty of Castle Dome, and Mt. Shasta in the distance, the undisputed mountain king, we were ready for a cold brew and a good meal at the revered Brown Trout Cafe in Dunsmuir where two Thanksgivings ago we had lunch and the best vanilla latte ever. For lunch way back then I had their mushroom soup and Will had the tri-tip sandwich. It was so good we vowed to return someday. And that day had arrived. Unfortunately, since that exceptional encounter, the Brown Trout Cafe has changed ownership, along with their menu, and there was a 12 year old behind the counter making the lattes! Pffffft. But hey, the beer was good and cold, and we just climbed the Crags.

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