Just before midday we departed from Little Mt. Hoffman passing by Medicine Lake before heading southwest on paved FR49. We passed by an interesting horse and wagon that we'd seen a few times throughout our stay there.
We drove several miles before stopping briefly to check out the Jot Dean Ice Cave. The mouth of the cave is just a short walk from roadside.
We scrambled down into the opening just far enough to see a healthy chunk of ice on the ground of the cave.
It made me wonder if the natives ever utilized these caves for storing meats or other perishable items or if not just to cool off on a hot summers day.
Just across the road from our parked car was a truck and trailer with some folks doing some shooting. The gunfire increased in rapid succession and the abrasive echo from each shot penetrated our ears and moved throughout the rest of our bodies like venom. With any chance of peace and quiet dissolved, we continued our drive along FR49.
Sarah kept her eyes peeled for a natural arch she had seen when we had driven in on this same road a few days earlier. Her keen eyes located the arch and we stopped for another geological exploration.
There are countless arches like this throughout the Medicine Lake Highlands and they were formed by partially collapsed lava tubes.
We continued on through varied terrain, stopping at one point to admire a field of blooming desert chaparral.
We made our way to Hwy 89 and headed west to the small fishing town of McCloud where we refilled our near empty gas tank. From there we drove to the city of Mt. Shasta where we stopped at Rays Grocery to get more food for the next couple of days. Planning such trips requires stopping every few days to replenish ice and Mt. Shasta is a convenient stopover.
We ended up stopping in town at the Wayside Grill for a long relaxed lunch. It felt great to just sit back and be waited on while we kicked back a couple of pints.
After a great meal it was time for another stopover, this time to take care of hygiene. Just out of town is the pleasant Lake Siskiyou where after paying a dollar day use entrance fee we had access to the showers. A couple bucks worth of quarters gets you a few minutes of steaming hot water. What a treat it was to walk out of there feeling clean and fresh, yet still in the woods!
If the weather was warmer we would have gone for a swim but instead we hit the road en route to the Girard Ridge Fire Lookout located in the hills above Castella.
From I5 near near Castella it is a several mile drive up a steep dirt logging road to reach the lookout. The amount of clear cutting you have to drive through is utterly disgusting and almost makes the place not worth visiting. All of the surrounding land, along with 3% of California, is owned by Sierra Pacific Industries a government subsidized evildoer who must be held accountable for their irreversible annihilation of our forests. But that is a separate post in itself.
We arrived at the lookout and were once again at peace as most of the clear cut patches are not visible from there. We unloaded our gear up the steep stairway to the elevated cabin. First things first was enjoying a cold brew on the catwalk as we soaked in the views of Mt. Shasta and Castle Crags on the adjacent ridge.
We enjoyed a quiet evening and just before sunset we saw a group of several large birds flying south that looked to be eagles? Without the binoculars handy we were unable to tell for sure. The sun sank behind the ridge and a few clouds lingered long enough to catch a hint of color.
And yet another night of watching for fires! I did get up in the night to take a long exposure where I used my headlamp to paint the cabin with light. I was a bit careless with my headlamp and a few light trails are the evidence.