McCloud Falls

Lately I’ve been waiting until I arrive at my destination before looking for things to do in the area. I like the spontaneity more than the prior planning. My last day in the Mount Shasta area of California finds me searching for a hike before I head back down the mountain to the airport.
Enter the tiny mountain town of McCloud, and McCloud Falls.
You can enter this hiking trail from a few different areas, but I choose to start at the bottom where Lower McCloud Falls is visible, and make my way upwards to Middle and Upper McCloud Falls.
In the early morning light I find only a single Native American woman, fishing for breakfast as her fire gets going to stave off the chill. I start hiking along the trail, but turn around momentarily and capture a picture of her casting her pole into the river. It starts my soul on fire as much as the kindling in her fire pit as the wood crackles and burns.
Further on up the trail I pass the occasional cluster of tents, their occupants still sleeping in warm blankets. I tiptoe past them in silence.
Morning mist dances above Middle McCloud Falls. A girl and her dog are splashing in the river below. I have a morsel of breakfast as I watch the mist and spray weave and turn in the power of the falling water.
A sharp incline has me climbing above the gorge and eventually I find myself at Upper McCloud Falls. The water rushes through the rocks more quickly here as the canyon narrows itself. I have not encountered another soul for this last little bit, and cherish the solitude.
The trail starts to fill with more adventurers as I make my way back down, the campgrounds come alive with the sounds of children waking and bacon sizzling on camp stoves.

Wench, bring my ale, what say you?