Returning to Finally Embrace Redding’s Outdoor Offerings
I was the girl called, “Danger.” It was a nickname I picked up in college, and being that I was the overly cautious one of the group, it was heavily doused in sarcasm. But that was then. Today, I was eagerly hopping out of the chair lift at the top of Mt. Shasta’s most challenging snowboard run. My board crunched into the snow and I took off without any hesitation. My friend, Jeff, swooshed by me and performed a trick to show off. I wasn’t bothered—Jeff was the only one of us who was a true snowboarder; Steve, Carrie, and I were less hard-core. Luckily, the slopes were only part of the appeal.
It had been a while since we had all been together, though we were inseparable back at school. Jobs and families took us to different cities across the West—Redding, the hub of far northern California—turned out to be the perfect meet-up spot for reunions. We had visited this past spring—the rest of the group had camped in Whiskeytown, while I played it safe at a bed and breakfast. I had a blast, but when I looked back on it, I regretted not roughing it with my friends.
I wasn’t going to have regrets this trip, even when our first activity turned out to be middle-of-winter paddling. While there was snow on the mountains, there was none on the ground in Redding, and the shop owner we rented the equipment from assured us that with the right gear, kayaking was a year-round possibility. We paddled down the Sacramento River, under the Sundial Bridge; its soaring white form reminded me of the egrets taking flight a little ways down the river. Steve, the group’s resident trivia buff, told us that the bridge is actually a working sundial and was designed to not touch the water to avoid damaging the salmon habitat. Already I was glad I hadn’t passed on this activity.
Endless outdoor adventure
We kayaked; we snowboarded; we enjoyed the sights, and eventually, my friends turned to me and asked what I wanted to do. It was a habit—they wanted to make sure they included some tame activities that I could enjoy, too. So far, I had been as eager to jump in as the rest of them…why slow down now?
“I think we should spend the day on a volcano,” I declared. And with that—and a couple of shocked faces from Steve, Carrie and Jeff—the girl who let worry get in the way of living was long gone. I wanted to do more than keep up with the group: I wanted to lead the way.
Lassen Volcanic National Park
We loaded up the car with snowshoes and winter gear and made the short drive to Lassen Volcanic National Park. This park is a favorite of Jeff and Carrie’s to explore, offering a variety of sights including turquoise lakes, breathtaking waterfalls, and even steaming vents and bubbling mud. None of us had ever been in winter, though, so this would be a new experience all around.
The park was frozen into stillness by winter. You’d never guess dozens of active volcanoes were lying beneath us, as we hiked across a quiet blanket of pure white snow. I had to remind myself that for most of the year, this silent, winter landscape is a bustling national park, with people coming from around the world to get up close and personal with volcanic activity. On certain parts of the trail, we could hear the geothermal activity rumbling far below the snow. I may have had a cautious side, but like Lassen, a cool exterior can conceal an untold strength beneath the surface. As we continued our trek through the park, I took the lead, ushering the group forward and enjoying the sights with a stronger appreciation for who I had become, and for the friends who stayed beside me, whether my endeavors were timid or bold.
Toasting to the new wild card
Later that evening, we ended up at Wildcard Brewing Co. It had the right mix of a warm welcome and a relaxed atmosphere to make the perfect end to our exciting day. We all agreed that this trip to Redding was certainly an experience made up of unforgettable adventures. We spent the evening reminiscing about old times with newly minted stories from Lassen, Mt. Shasta, and the Sacramento River weaving their way between classic college lore. By the end of the night, we were already planning our next reunion. This time, when Jeff talked about trying rafting and a Lake Shasta Caverns tour on our next trip, no one looked at me to see if I was worried. The days spent in Redding had made all of us realize that I was as ready for adventure as the rest of them. My days of sarcastically being called “Danger” were long gone. Carrie raised her glass and said, “To our girl, Danger—we always knew you had it in you!”
Rediscover favorite trails or try something new in Redding’s great outdoors.