Today was it.
The last day in Redding, CA. The last day to explore the area, to climb the mysterious Mt. Shasta. The grand finale of sorts.
How had time flown by so fast and yet… it feels like I’ve been here for months. I don’t say that in a bad way. I think it’s because so much has happened here.
Because I am not the same Josh leaving Redding, CA as the one who entered it a week ago. I didn’t quite see the change until today. The pieces didn’t quite add up until I was talking to a really good friend as I went on an adventure on Mt. Shasta. It kinda hit me all at once in such an amazing moment.
Let’s back up.
You may be wondering why I didn’t cover the events of Monday, August 12th. Or maybe you’re not wondering, which is fine. I really don’t have anything exciting to report about Monday. I spent the day in two different coffee shops writing Episode 8 and then I returned to my Airbnb where I finished watching the first season of The Boys. Um, if you haven’t watched it yet, what are you even doing with your life? Anyway, there was no need to make a whole episode/blog post about it, if you ask me. And let’s just pretend you did ask me for the sake of making me feel good.
So, Episode 9 will be focused on the events of Tuesday, August 13th.
Last time I went to Mt. Shasta, Panther Meadows was closed. I was pretty sad about that. Thankfully, Panther Meadows opened on Monday so on this day I was going to brave the mountain once again! Panther Meadows takes you high up the mountain. It’s the pathway where the road stops and you can no longer drive up the mountain. It’s about 7,000 or so feet in elevation.
After ordering a drink called The Bob at Dutch Bros (because why wouldn’t you order a drink called The Bob–Dark Chocolate, Banana, and Coconut coffee), I was on my way. I wasn’t feeling super well the whole ride. I woke up feeling weird–woozy. (I had some suspicions it was my talking crystal because sorcery). This weird feeling stayed with me until I made it to Panther Meadows. I drove up to the highest point I could, hopped out of my car, and the adventure began full of wonderful sights.
It was a rocky hike to start. I came across two other hikers as I wound my way closer to the jutting rocks and blankets of snow. They informed me that breathing would get harder the higher I go and, as a result, snakes and other dangerous wildlife were probably not going to be found. That made me feel more confident so away I went!
I could probably spend pages and pages describing the mountainside. It was a magical journey to put it simply. Imagine walking up rocky earth and without warning BAM! lush green grasses roll up the hills. It was like I’d stepped into another dimension. But little did I know how amazing things would get.
I heard a slight roar. No, not a creature. The roar of water. As I continued to move, I came across a beautiful area where a small mountain stream bubbled over the rocks. Butterflies glided all around me, one landing on my shoe. Patches of flowers reached for the sun. I was in complete and utter awe. I stood grinning like an idiot. Mystified.
Behind me rolled the mountains, covered in tall trees. I planted my butt on the ground, touched the ice-cold waters, and marveled at how beautiful this place was. No joke, there was a fierce energy about that place. Call it what you will, but it was powerful. It was something I’d never experienced before. It was then where I’d realized something in me had shifted.
I was no longer somebody afraid to hike in the woods, on the mountains. I’d done the unthinkable. I had the urge to rush into this adventure to California all by myself. I’d propelled myself out of my comfort zone, took a leap of faith, and here I was…. standing in a magical, astonishing place on a mountain full of myths and legends. It was liberating. As if the bubbling water was a symbol of a new chapter of my life, flowing over rocks of the past, feeding new bursts of life and energy.
And so I stood. Grinning. Like an idiot. I will never be ashamed of it. The pictures truly do not do it justice.
After I marveled for a good twenty minutes or so, I continued my hike with more pep in my step, brandishing my walking stick like a magic wand. I continued to grin as I found more water, more greenery. I still smiled when that all vanished into rocks and actual patches of snow even though it was sixty degrees where I was.
I climbed up a mountainside on all fours, using my stick for balance. I seriously felt like I was in Middle-Earth, carrying the One Ring to the fires of Mordor myself. If there were snakes in the rocks, I didn’t care. They weren’t going to stop my magical journey. If I saw one, I might even have said, “Hey there, buddy. I’m just passing by. Carry on being a demon and all. Peace.”
I climbed until I reach 9,207 feet. Can you believe that this entire time there was complete silence save for the whisper of a breeze and the tiny buzzing of insects? It was as if the world had been put on mute as I sat gazing far below the mountain.
After some time just sitting and staring at the beauty of creation, I made my descent down the mountain. It was just as mystical–minus the part where I actually fall down a steep decline. I caught myself on the back of my leg where I have a nasty looking scar. Did that ruin my joy? Nope. I just shook my head muttering, “Classic Josh.”
After I made it back to my car, I drove to the actual Panther Meadows. This was a place with a lot of superstition behind it. It was here where people claimed to see faeries and gnomes and tall people from the mountain. While I sadly didn’t see any of that, I honestly can see why people may have said this. Large trees rose on either side of the path. There was an open grass meadow with a cool, refreshing stream snaking its way through it. It was a place so pure, you could feel it in your bones. To highlight this even more, clouds of butterflies swarmed the place, completely unalarmed by me and the other hikers I came across. If faeries were to live anywhere, it would certainly be here.
I ran into a female couple, huffing and puffing. One of them asked me if I was okay. I nodded with a smile and decided to take a break. We had a nice conversation about how fascinating and wonderful the wilderness is. How life-changing and mystical and therapeutic it was. The other woman said, “You don’t get this in the city. People are so consumed by their electronics, always looking down, and they miss all this. And here when you come across people, they look each other in the eye and say hi and it’s just genuine.”
And she was right. Nature returns us to our roots, to a time without technology and the busyness of life. It makes us happier, if you ask me. It truly was exciting to see other people and greet them only to have them respond warmly. It was like the nature around us connected us all together in a great web or, dare I say, circle of life?
The rest of the day wasn’t too crazy. I grabbed lunch, had an orange-mango milkshake, and I stopped to see some mini-waterfalls on the way home, able to get up close to one of them. I could’ve stood under the water, but there were too many people around. Besides, I still had to pack and get ready to leave the next day. And, to be honest, my feet were killing me. I had a fresh wave of new blisters and they were not as magical as my hike was.
Despite that, I drove into town to visit Barnes and Noble (where they totally did not have the book I wanted), swung by Best Buy to buy Avengers: Endgame, and then back to the place to pack.
That evening, I decided to go eat at a place called Mosaic. It sat near the Sacramento River, nestled very close to the Sundial Bridge I talked about in a prior episode. I decided to sit at the bar. The only seat open was one in the corner, next to a couple that insisted on flirting with one another in an annoying fashion. Oh well. I ordered a mojito, a burger, and enjoyed my last meal in Redding.
But what’s a last night in Redding without a little excitement?
I decided to go see the Sundial Bridge lit up at night. As I was walking next to the little forest near the bridge, I heard something large lumbering through the foliage. There was a shadow passing by and, fearing I’d be eaten by a mountain lion on my last night in California, I put a little pep in my step, shooting frantic looks at the dark forest. There were certainly other people around, but still. Mountain lions.
When I turned the corner and saw the magnificent bridge in the night, there was another thundering crash because clearly the mountain lion was hunting me.
Alas, out of the shadows of the forest pranced a young buck with pretty antlers. He briefly stared at me, looked around, and just started cruising through the mini-parking lot like he owned the joint. Silly buck! He had me fooled he was a carnivorous mountain lion.
And then I saw more movement out of the corner of my eyes.
It was small. Close to the ground. Black. White stripes. Thirty feet away.
Having never seen one in the wild, I wasn’t sure what the social expectations were when you see a skunk scuttling across a parking lot. I mean people were around. Would the skunk run away? Clearly, Skunky wouldn’t approach human life willingly. I glanced at the guy sitting on the bench nearby, watching the bridge. I glanced back at Skunky. He was sniffing the tire of a car. I glanced back at the man. He looked like he wanted to be left alone.
Figuring it wasn’t a big deal, that Skunky was too preoccupied with the tire (and hoping he wouldn’t get run over), I started walking back to my car.
Terrified screams erupted behind me. Multiple screams. High-pitched.
Probably what you can expect to hear if somebody, oh I don’t know, unexpectedly came across a skunk in the night.
Wide-eyed and wondering what smelly fate I doomed fellow humans to, I jumped into my car. Admittedly, I was chuckling a little bit because I have no soul. Also, because all I could picture was Skunky chasing terrified humans around the bridge.
What a sight to leave me with on my last night in Redding.
Redding was a fun, adventurous trip. Relaxing, even. I loved my AirBnB. I melted over the views. And I grew into an adventurer, learning things about myself, nature, and the world. Does that sound cheesy and cliche? Yup. But it’s true.
I’d love to come back to explore Mt. Shasta again. Such an amazing place, full of mystery and awe. I only scratched the surface of it–literally.
There’s still much, much more to explore.
It’s been real, Redding. Now it’s time to do some creating for my book because I leave with tons of inspiration–and a talking crystal, of course.
But, wait! The adventure doesn’t quite end yet!
In the next episode, you’ll be able to experience the streets of San Francisco, as well as the Pacific Ocean, with me during my two day stay there.
And trust me… there are some stories to tell. Here’s a sneak peak of what to expect:
- The woes of traffic and airport confusion
- The adventures of Pier 39 on Fisherman’s Wharf, including an encounter with a racist
- Whales. ALL. THE. WHALES.
- Flip flops vs. The Golden Gate Bridge
- A fear conquered
- Conversation with a homeless man that will leave you scratching your head and questioning everything.
The next episode will come either later tonight or tomorrow! See you then!