Note: This three part piece was first published over on ARTIST-AT-LARGE.
“You have to go to Mt. Shasta,” said the voice in my head.
This was not a dreaming.
Prime directives given before 6am are not easily processed. At least not in this dimension. They usually take a bit of deciphering and contemplation. But this particular directive was pretty damn clear. I sat up in bed and wiped my eyes, hanks of hair hanging in my face, my blankets twisted all around me. Untwisting them, I stifled a big yawn.
It’s not even light out yet.
“Huh? Why?” was my reply said out loud. To no one in particular, just to a voice in my head. My nose wrinkled with the question.
While sitting there on my bed in the pod, a conversation with myself proceeded, more of a groggy little argument actually, about the whys and the why-nots, the pros and cons, the can-dos and can-nots, of going to visit a place that wasn’t even remotely on my go-to list.
I had been to Mt. Shasta once already in this lifetime. In 1982, or one of those college years in the early 80s. I went there with my then boyfriend on a roadtrip to visit friends before the fall semester started. We had a lovely climb up the mountain to the late summer Augustine snow line, up to Horse Camp and beyond. But all through the first night, in our camp deep in the forest, we both got so totally freaked out by the surreal noises and sounds outside our tent that I swore I would never go back there. Ever.
That’s how it became a been there, done that, couldn’t pay me to go there, never going back destination – for me, at least.
But the current argument in my head didn’t end that morning until I finally agreed to make every effort possible, at my earliest convenience of course, to get into the car and drive up the I-5 … to drive until I made it to the mountain.
And no one was more surprised than me when that happened a month later at the end of August.
* * * * *
It’s not often, or even ever, that one gets singled out and called out by a mountain.
On the last day of August, I decided to skip working for a couple of days and take the rental car up I-5. It had been bugging me that I had made this commitment to, not only a mountain, but also to a seemingly random voice talking in my head. Even though it seemed, on the outside at least, that I was going to Mt. Shasta as an exploration, an adventure, the bigger reason I was going was just to get it over with so I could move on to tripping out to other places that I did want to see.
Not too sure of what to expect when I got to the mountain, I didn’t think too hard about how long I would be there, a couple of days maybe, if that, as it seemed that I could just drive up, commune with the mountain, and drive back to Berkeley in a short amount of time. Getting ready for the trip included grabbing a couple of blankets from the pod, one of them being a vintage striped Mexican blanket with a hole in the middle that could double as a poncho, along with a change of clothes, my towels, and tech and tossing all of that into the trunk of the car. Oh, and for some reason, my fuzzy slippers made the trip as well.
Flying free up the freeway, the world felt lighter with each passing mile that was put between the Bay Area and myself. Having not been out of Berkeley for a very long time, once I hit the 505, the road was fast, and clear of traffic.
* * * * *
The town of Mount Shasta has a very high number of shops that sell crystals, given the size of the town. And by crystals I’m not talking wine glasses. I’m talking rocks. Some rough, others polished. All different kinds that promise to promote all different kinds of well being. Health, wealth, focus, intent … Most of these rocks are beautiful and even I have a little velvet bag back in The Pod where my most special crystals are kept. But that’s not what this trip to town was about. I was in town to get to the mountain.
I had been called.
Standing in the middle of one of these crystal shops I asked for directions on how to get closer, or up onto, the mountain. From my one previous trip here years ago, I had a vague memory of the road leading up the hill, but I wasn’t sure where the road left town. There were three people, two men and a woman, in the shop who were happy to help. One of the men who stood in front of me had multiple crystal wands in each of his hands that he randomly waved in the air as he spoke to me. The man behind the counter sat calmly as he and I discussed the weather conditions and the camping/sleeping options. The woman who stood beside me, smiling, gave me directions to the one road that led up the mountain. She mentioned the fires that were burning in the Klamath forest, about forty miles away. “Don’t go north of here,” she said. “The smoke is sitting like a wall at the edge of town.”
Even though there was a feeling of excitement to be here, and a great hope to get the trip over with as fast as possible, I didn’t head up the mountain right away. I poked around town a bit, talked to some very friendly people, then gassed up the car because after that long trek on the road north, the tank was almost empty. Before heading out though, I spent some time going around to the affordable hotels in town to see if I could find a room for the night – not going to happen, as there was nothing in my price range that was available. Luckily those few blankets were in the trunk along with an extra layer of clothes.
Making plans for road trips is not my strong point. Most of my past road trips have been taken in The Escape Pod – usually I just get in the car and go since it is always packed. I don’t use GPS. I barely use a map. I don’t google for information before I leave. I don’t make reservations. This trip was no different.
Driving up the Everitt Memorial Highway, the town of Mt.Shasta was very quickly left behind, seen only by looking in the rear view mirror. The Shasta-Trinity National Forest became thick on both sides of the road and random, single, encampments appeared then faded away as I drove by. The woman in the crystal shop had mentioned the water at McBride Springs campground, so I planned to stop, and although the entrance was not obvious at all, I found it up the road, about five miles out of town.
Getting out of the car, I walked the short path to the well and filled up my water bottles – it didn’t seem to be a good idea to risk taking the water right out of the creek just yet. McBride Springs was a really nice campground, and the only one at the lower – warmer – elevation. Walking the circular road to see if there were any spots available, I met a woman named La. She was on a personal spiritual retreat, but took the time to speak with me and even offered me her second parking spot should I make the decision to stay and sleep in the car. Just as I was thanking her, the wind shifted and that wall of smoke that was sitting at the edge of town started drifting in thick foggy wisps through the forest and into the camp. I couldn’t help feeling like I was being energetically pushed to leave, to move on, to continue making my way up the mountain. Stop talking, the mountain was saying. With that, La. and I left the idea of the second parking spot open, and I was welcome to come back later if I wanted to.
* * * * *
Mt. Shasta has a reputation for being a mystical and magical place. If a mountain was going to call anyone out, Mt. Shasta would be one on a very small list of mountains that could do it.
Lore and legend have it that there is a crystal city within the mountain called Telos, a fifth-dimensional living artifact from the ancient land of Lemuria. Although if you go up to the town of Weed and talk to the woman at the Visitor’s Center she’ll put you straight, “Don’t be silly. It’s a volcano. It’s filled with lava tubes. No one could possibly live in there.” That is true – in the third-dimension. Wrapping my head around the idea that it is quite possible that life exists in multiple dimensions in any give place at any point in time, who is to say that Telos, its High Priest named Adama, and its long-lived people do not exist?
* * * * *
Rolling down the windows to breathe in the fresh mountain air scented by the fir and conifer forest, I continued to drive up the two-lane well cared for road. Every now and then, out of the corner of my eye, something would move inside the forest, just inside it, just off the side of the road. Not critters – not bear or deer. But big enough to be. Maybe the infamous shape shifters of Mount Shasta? Inter-dimensional beings from Telos? Every now and then it would appear as if I was looking at a point in the forest through life-size drops of water, or some sort of lenses. The trees at ground level would bow in and out as these forms moved past them. Or maybe that was the altitude beginning to bother me, although I’m usually not bothered too much until I reach above 8,000 feet. In any case, I had the intuitive feeling that I was being escorted on my way up the mountain. By the time the car reached Bunny Flats at 6950 feet, I saw them no more.
Little did I know when upon arrival at Panther Meadow late in the afternoon, I wouldn’t be coming down the mountain again until the next day. Lodgings had escaped me. But that was ok. They really weren’t the most important item on my agenda at that time. I had a sense that it wasn’t going to be that big of a deal and went with it, remaining open and trusting and going with the flow and not too much worried about it.
Thinking that I had come to the end of the road when arriving at the meadow, I parked the car and went for a little hike – staying on the path to do my part in protecting this delicate patch of nature – all the while asking myself, why was I called to be here? This meadow is a place of sacred ceremony and some have said that there is a vortex here that connects multiple dimensions. Spending a moment with the sacred babbling brook that runs through the meadow I listened for answers – hearing nothing but the sweet sound of mountain water running over the rocks and through the grass.
A feeling of elation within me had become stronger throughout the day, starting at my first glimpse of the mountain some twenty miles back down I-5. Somehow, from that first glimpse, the mountain was connecting to me, pulling me in. Standing there, almost speechless, in the middle of this beautiful native and sacred meadow, I was becoming tethered and grounded to the energies of the mountain.
On my way back to the car, another car drove past the parking lot, continuing on up the mountain. There’s more? I had the distinct feeling that the car was inviting me, showing me the way to where I was supposed to be. The way the road curved up and beyond the meadow made the road further on difficult to see from below.
Following them up the steep grade to an even larger parking lot at the Old Ski Bowl Trail Head, there were people gathering to watch the sunset. Walking over the flat plateau and looking down into the valley below, it was suddenly clear how much of it was filled with the smoke that pushed me up the mountain. There was a distinct feeling that we were all on an island above a sea of clouds and the sun was beginning to sink beneath them.
I had arrived. It was the end of the road. It was where I needed to be.
Reaching into the trunk and pulling out the Mexican blanket to wrap myself in, it seemed smart to get a head start on warding off the coming chill. A car pulled up and parked near mine, and a man popped out. He walked directly up to me, and we talked a bit about being up on the mountain to watch the sun set. He was planning on an evening run up the mountain, but before he left he said to me, “Oh, you are going to want to sleep up here if you can,” and he turned, taking off in a run.
As the sun set, the stars came out. Venus. Jupiter. OK, the planets came out first. Then the biggest and the brightest of the constellations. Then the real show began. When the sun was completely down, the Universe became visible. It seemed like the entire Universe was welcoming me into its home, but I know it was just a small sliver of it, the part of it that was in front of me. It was the part that I could see. The night sky was crowded with pinpoints of light. Overwhelming space, miraculous, and amazing.
Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in the Universe.
There were a few of us on the mountain that night. Li. with her dog, B. and his girlfriend, and a few others. I leaned against the car and just took in the scope of the show in the night sky. Others were noting the satellites and constellations, while waiting for the UFOs to spin by. I stood quietly and just scanned the scene – it was almost too much to take in – shooting stars and satellites traversing the cosmos.
The thought of going back down into that smoke filled valley left me feeling congested and the thought of hiding that starscape under a veil of smoke just seemed like it would be a cosmic crime. The decision was made, that if these other folks happen to spend the night up here, I may as well too. Old Ski Bowl is not a legal place to car camp, but the rangers didn’t seem to be patrolling.
The temperature was falling fast and when my eyes could no longer stay open I made my retreat into the car. Turning the car on and heating it up for a moment, I hoped that it would take off the chill for most of the night. Climbing into the passenger seat and arranging the two blankets I had thought to bring around me, I drifted off to sleep to the sound of B. finding yet another UFO in the sky, and Li.’s dog running circles around the parked cars.
* * * * *
Another directive came in the middle of the night.
Take your laptop and cell phone out of the car and lay them down behind the tires. Now back up the car and crush them.
The dream came from a higher office. The room was white with no furniture. I could have been on one of the UFOs that floated through the night sky, or maybe I was inside Telos. The message came to me telepathically. One moment no one was with me and then the next moment I saw a talking head on a monitor screen. Unlike my usual intensely colorful dreams, this one had no color.
The message being – it’s time to get rid of the tech.
I get that. I woke with the sense that this dream was a connection, a command. With and from who I wasn’t sure. I did get the message though. Having worked in the tech industry for years it has been my short term goal to leave it behind. I’ve been wanting to move more into nature and less into a technical future and if the Singularity is near, being on the side where humanity is developing its super powers with pure DNA, not tech, is the place to be.
* * * * *
The sun rose over the back of the mountain and woke us all in a blaze of light. Someone had a stove, I had water, tea and coffee were made for all of those who spent the night gazing up at the Universe. Spending most of the morning meditating and hiking on mountain, I realized that some things had changed for me over that night. For one, I was no longer freaked at the mountain.
I had fallen in love with it.
The mountain had called.
And I answered.
* * * * *
Continue on to Om Shasta Shasta: Part Two