We thoroughly enjoyed the lookout and a leisurely morning as we slowly packed up our things. Although we felt as though we could permanently live in the lookout, we only had reserved it for two nights and it was time for our adventure to continue. We said goodbye to Girard Ridge and headed north toward the city of Mt. Shasta, stopping along the way at Castle Crag State Park River Campground to refill our water supply.
In Mt. Shasta we stopped at Rays and picked up food supplies before heading up Everitt Memorial HWY to Panther Meadows walk-in campground.
We parked our car and searched for a vacant campsite. Because the weather had started to come in and rain looked eminent we opted for a site with a little sun and set up camp. In preparation for rain we set up 3 additional tarps over our 2 season tent.
It wasn’t long before we were greeted by the camp host Johnny who has been at Panther Meadows off and on for 19 years. He had an assistant camp host Garth, both were very helpful and a pleasure to meet. We later met our camp neighbor Tuaca who was up solo celebrating her birthday as well as her first camping trip ever. How Adventurous!
The vibe at Panther Meadows was very different from everywhere else we had stayed on the trip. It tends to draw a different type of visitor. Panther Spring is considered sacred and many people journey there just to fill up water bottles. It is also considered sacred by several native tribes. The Winnemem Wintu Indians consider it their genesis. This land has been the center of great controversy as countless entities have tried to develop and or destroy Panther Meadows. To find out more about the Winnemem Wintu and this sacred place watch the following video (compliments of SacredLand.Org.)
Sarah and I relaxed around camp for a while before going for a stroll. We walked about a hundred yards from our campsite along a path leading into Lower Panther Meadows. Over the years Panther Meadows has been damaged greatly by the careless footsteps of humans. Thankfully a restoration is in process and individual trails are designated by signs and lined with rocks. Please respect the Meadows and stay on the designated trails. TREAD LIGHTLY! The lower meadow was gorgeous with patches of wildflowers and the spring running through the middle of the meadow. The peak of Mt. Shasta, towering and treeless, dominated the backdrop.
We then followed the trail through the Lower Meadow, into a forested area and then up into Upper Panther Meadow. Again the display of wildflowers was magnificent.
The trail crosses the stream and skirts the edge of the meadow and ends at where Panther Spring emerges from the ground. The area is built up with stones and roped off. Two people were hanging out at the spring as we arrived. We chatted a bit and drank from the spring. The water was delicious. After talking with the woman at the spring for a while we found out we had met her son earlier in the week at the fee booth at Lake Siskiyou. What a small world!
The view looking down over the meadow was breathtaking and would have been more so had the weather been better.
We then headed back to the campsite and relaxed the rest of the evening turning in early. Although there was forecast for rain with possibility of snow the weather held off.