Saturday, August 8

California’s Mount Shasta is a spiritual destination with great hiking trails, too

There’s a city called Telos made out of crystals located inside Mount Shasta inhabited by higher beings called Lemurians. They fled here after a thermo-nuclear war with Atlantis, that war you learnt about at school, right?

Are you keeping up? Now, in the 1930s, a businessman called Guy Ballard encountered the first known Lemurian at Mount Shasta. Lemurians aren’t aliens, that’s crazy. No, Lemurians are ascended master-beings who’ve had many lifetimes already on Earth and so they no longer need to come back to the birth-to-death cycle we’re all governed by.

Ballard set up a religious movement called I AM. Within a few years he had a million followers. Then the US government shut it down. But you can’t keep a good Lemurian devotee down, so every August (since 1950) thousands of believers turn up at Mount Shasta for the “I AM,” COME! pageant. Oh boy, what a turn-out that must be and I’ve only missed it by days.

Though I needn’t worry, it seems a lot of locals in Mount Shasta believe Telos is up there under their beloved mountain… that’s why they’re here, for the giant etheric pyramid which reaches beyond this planet into the Milky Way.

Truth is, even if there wasn’t a city inside Mount Shasta – and, hey, I’m not saying there isn’t – you’d come for the outside of it.

This might be America’s most sacred mountain – the local indigenous people considered it so sacred that visitors had to be purified before visiting it – but it’s one of its least known.

You find Mount Shasta 440 kilometres north of San Francisco though I see it from 150 kilometres out. It’s a dormant volcano which rises 4322 metres from the valley below in one of the least populated areas of California, where bears outnumber humans two-to-one. It is 

The Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway is a highway that runs between Oregon and California for about 800 kilometres. There’s views to die for round every corner, yet barely 25,000 visitors visit in a year. The area’s criss-crossed by hiking trails and dotted with alpine lakes.

Some people come to find themselves, others to get lost. The town of Shasta was founded by timber-cutters and gold prospectors before the mystics took over, and it epitomises Northern California. As I drink coffee in its quirky cafes, there’s equal measures of hippies and lumberjack-types around me. They seem to get on just fine, even if each side thinks the other is bonkers.

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I stay a few kilometres out of town in a chalet within a forest by the blue waters of Lake Siskiyou. The receptionist advises I make noise on my evening stroll as bears roam these parts. I hike across my backyard to a clearing between cedars which frames Mount Shasta. The peak looks like it’s hovering above the forest separated by a horizontal cloud believers consider celestial. I stand still in a stupor, stoned on its grandeur.

There’s a paved road you can take to the base of Shasta from town.  Guide Robin Kohn takes me hiking through pines and cedars to a stone hut built by the forestry department. Except for a small group of Americans on a guided meditation tour, there’s no one around. I try to make small talk, but they have a faraway look in their eyes –shamanic adventurers are on a long journey.

We follow avalanche trails among gullies of red rock and blooming yellow violet where black-tailed deer feed. If I’d come a month earlier, I could ski some of the best corn snow terrain in the US. Instead I enjoy the sight of wildflowers in bloom.

There are few hikers so I spend two days traversing the slopes below the snow-line almost entirely by myself, looking down the valley to the town below.

I uncover bear tracks but I can’t see a single Lemurian footprint. They are said to be more than two metres tall, so you’d think they’d leave an easily seen track. I’m not disappointed, instead I’m enchanted by the devotees who are here, travelling spiritually beyond where I’m capable of going.

I might be missing out on the fifth dimension they going towards, but in this quiet part of California I’m in a dimension of my own, breathing in the silence between the wafts of pennyroyal mint.

THE DETAILS

MORE

traveller.com.au/california

visitcalifornia.com

FLY

Qantas, Air New Zealand and United fly direct to San Francisco. United fly to Redding Airport which is 109 kilometres from Mount Shasta. Major car rental companies operate out of San Francisco and Redding airports. See qantas.com.au, airnz.com.au, united.com

STAY

A fully contained chalet at Mount Shasta Resort, which has an 18 hole golf course, costs from $US249 a night. See mountshastaresort.com

TOUR

A Sacred Site and a Snowshoeing Tour are just some of the tours offered by Robin Kohn. See mountshastaguide.com

Craig Tansley was a guest of Visit California.