clock May 16, 2010
author Chris Sopa

Tears of Gratitude

Since this is my last day in Mount Shasta, I wanted to make sure I squeezed everything I could out of my day today so I started off at 7:30 visiting the Mount Shasta Pastry Shop for some coffee and a scone.  WOW!!  is all I have to say about that!  Best scone I have ever had!  I had the pleasure of meeting Steve, the owner, who was a chef that moved here to Mount Shasta 6 years ago to open his own pastry shop.  (I have met so many people that have been drawn to move here for one reason or another.)

I found out yesterday that since Mount Shasta is considered such a sacred mountain, that there are actually 11 other sacred sites around this area that are considered sacred because they are near the mountain.  I decided to check some of them out.  The first place I stopped was McCloud Falls.  This was about a 3 mile hike round trip with 3 different waterfalls along the way; Lower, Middle and Upper Falls.  This was a beautiful paved path along the river through the forest.  The Lower Falls were the first thing I came upon right at the beginning of the hike.  After about 1 ½ miles I began to well up with tears for some reason.  As I walked around the next corner I came upon the Middle Falls and literally burst into tears!  They were so beautiful they literally took my breath away!!

Lower Falls

Base of Lower Falls

Middle Falls

I tell many of my coaching clients that tears are a form of release.  Crying is what helps us heal our old emotional wounds.  My tears at Middle Falls were not sad tears, but tears of gratitude and healing.  I could hardly believe I was standing there looking at those falls!  I began to reflect on the last week of my journey and for the next 20 minutes I was a bawl-bag!!  I realized the many things I am grateful for:  grateful to be able to take this trip, grateful to have had the courage to do it alone, grateful for the weather and how I “lucked” out everywhere I went (except my day of solitude in Baker, NV) with beautiful sunny, clear skies, grateful for my life and what I do for a living, grateful for each and every experience I have had on this journey so far and each and every person I have met, and grateful to be able to share this whole experience with all of the people I love that take the time to read this blog.

A scene on the McCloud Trail

I tried to access the road to Upper Falls (even though there was a big sign that said “DO NOT ENTER”) but no such luck!  I decided I wanted to live!

I then headed to the Castle Crag Wilderness area to hike the Castle Dome Trail.  Now, you would have thought I might have actually learned a lesson from my experience on the Syncline Loop…but NOOOOO!  I chose this trail because it was the longest and I wanted a challenge.  Well, let me tell you about my “challenge!”  First of all, the Ranger had to give me the “bear lecture” before I left because all over this forest are Black Bears and cubs.  Can you imagine me running into a bear!?  Sopa out…literally!!  So the Ranger tells me that if I come across a bear to make a lot of noise and that it would be best for me to just make a lot of noise as I was hiking because it is a bad thing to “surprise” a bear.  I guess that is when they charge you and get mad.  Now I am sorry but if I saw a bear, the LAST thing my instinct would tell me to do would be to make noise so the bear KNEW where I was!!  Call me crazy!!  So what did I do to make noise along my hike alone….I cleared my throat a lot, I shuffled my feet really loud as I walked, I talked into my digital tape recorder and I finished the last verse of “Raw Hide.”  I figured the best way to scare off any bear around me would be to sing…that will scare off anybody!

Just thought you might like to see the “exciting” forest sign…..

On top of the “bear” challenge, this trail was not a loop so it went UP to a point and then you just had to turn around and come back down.  Now, when I say UP, I mean UP!!!  Straight up for 2.7 miles!!  I was swearing out loud (to keep the bears away of course) the entire time, calling myself crazy and thinking I must have something loose in my head to AGAIN choose another trail that would kill my poor little body!  The only thing that kept me going was that I figured if this trail is called “Castle Dome” there must be a “castle” up ahead and who lives in castles…PRINCES!!  So I kept imagining my “prince” at the top when I got to the “castle.”  (Ok, YES, I was hallucinating again!!).  Unfortunately at the top, there was no prince for me (story of my life) but some beautiful scenery that was well worth the hike up.

My “Castle”

Another view of my “Castle”

The main thing I noticed about this hike in the forest was the smells.  I kept getting whiffs of the most fragrant smells that stopped me in my tracks.  (Of course, on the way UP I was barely breathing so I wasn’t able to finally breathe through my nose to smell everything until on the way down.)  I also realized while I was hiking this trail that on this trip I have hiked just about every terrain:  desert, canyons, snow, dirt path, paved path, waterfalls, and forest.  Go Sopa!

Another view on the trail

I decided on my way down to take another 1.7 mile hike on the Indian Springs Trail which was beautiful and FLAT!  Next I drove a few miles down the road to Hedge Creek Falls and hiked a little less than a mile there.  All so beautiful!!

Hedge Creek Falls

After all of my hiking this last week (I figured I logged about 40 miles at least) I decided that I was extremely grateful for my body not clunking out on me and allowing me to put it through everything I did, so I decided to treat my “body” to a 3 hour spa treatment at the Sacred Mountain Spa!  My 3 hours consisted of a hot aromatherapy foot soak, 1 ½ hour full-body massage and then a full-body lemongrass/ginger salt scrub.  Ahhhhh!

I ended my day feeling like I needed to say good-bye and thank you one last time to Mount Shasta so I drove up to Bunny Flat again, where I started my hike the other day, and spent some time in gratitude for the beautiful mountain and what she taught me while I was here.

Mount Shasta in the background on my hike today at Castle Dome

Tomorrow I drive 8 ½ hours to Seattle and cannot wait!  I get to visit with my cousin, Paul,  who I have not seen in over 20 years, speak at one of my favorite conferences and see some of my friends from South Africa!

Until Seattle….Sopa out!