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Introducing Mt Shasta

‘When I first caught sight of it I was 50 miles away and afoot, alone and weary. Yet all my blood turned to wine, and I have not been weary since, ’ wrote naturalist John Muir in 1874. Mt Shasta’s beauty is intoxicating; and the closer you get to her the headier you begin to feel.

When the European fur trappers arrived in the area in the 1820s they encountered several Native American tribes, including the Shasta, Karuk, Klamath, Modoc, Wintu and Pit River. By 1851 hordes of Gold Rush miners had arrived, completely disrupting the tribes’ traditional life. Later the newly completed railroad began to swiftly import workers and export timber for the booming lumber industry. And since Mt Shasta City (called Sison at the time) was the only non-dry town around, it became the bawdy, good-time hangout for lumberjacks.

The lumberjacks have now been replaced by New Agers. Today Mt Shasta is a mecca for mystics; seekers are attracted to the peak’s reported cosmic properties. In 1987 about 5000 believers from around the world convened here for the Harmonic Convergence, a communal meditation for peace. Reverence for the mountain is nothing new; for centuries Native Americans have honored the mountain as sacred, considering it to be no less than the Great Spirit’s wigwam.

With its abundant appeal, Mt Shasta City makes the perfect base for exploring the area’s natural wonders. Outdoor recreational possibilities include camping, hiking, river rafting, skiing, mountain biking and boating. Peak tourist season is from Memorial Day through Labor Day and also weekends during ski season (late November to mid-April).