Our days of rest and luxury came to an end at Lake Alamnor. We hopped back on the road early that Monday morning. Our legs were refreshed and our souls filled with appreciation for the long weekend of hospitality we’d received from our closest friends. We had all the momentum in the world to tackle the big climb through Lassen National Park. Especially knowing the same friends would be waiting for us in another cabin just a mere 150 miles away in McCloud. It was the great week of cabin hopping!
As our day’s journey commenced a thick haze filled the air from a fire that broke out on the eastern shore of Lake Alamnor, so naturally we pedaled a little faster than normal. We had a theory that we could outpace anything brewing on the horizons by the means of our bikes. That later proved wrong...
As we approached Lassen, we were stopped at a section of road work with heavy machinery—pilot car time! This time around we managed to let the driver throw us and our bikes in the back. It was the back of the truck experience we’d been hoping for all trip!
Just some boys being boys in the back of a pick up!
With a bit of help from the pilot car but mainly pedaling legs we arrived at Lassen and immediately ran into Robin, Miles and Abby at the visitors center while refilling our water. We had a humorously nonchalant encounter and continued onward toward Mt. Lassen. En route we considered taking a steamy hot mud bath but decided it was a bit too hot out.
Bubbling mud pools in Lassen releasing sulfurous gases.
After a few long switchbacks we found ourselves at the base of Mt. Lassen with some downhill fun awaiting us! We cruised down with ease and excitement witnessing views of Northern California none of us had seen before. Lassen is a true hidden gem of California’s National Parks!
Eventually we ended up in a pristine meadow for lunch but it was cut short as we heard bouts of thunder. Our approach... “we can beat this storm”. We jumped on our bikes and hustled with that fresh leg power! There’s no stopping the will of nature, the storm eventually caught up to us and we were hailed on for the next 15 miles as our drenched shoes squished down on each stroke of the pedal. When all was said and done, the storm gave us renewed spirits and we were stoked to finally get some form of rain!
Beautiful views and the brewing storm (taken minutes before we were hailed on)!
Before long we were out of Lassen and hauling through conifers and more gentle volcanic peaks of the 89. Ari and Alex ended up passing us as well and we were able to score some handfuls of popcorn before calling it a day. We ended up riding about 85 miles on the day once we had settled ourselves into an abandoned campground. We took a quick dip in the creek, ate dinner and passed out!
We woke up and cruised out of the campsite in hopes of having enough time to check out Burney Falls yet still get to McCloud by early afternoon. Luckily, we were able to do just that and in return we were rewarded with not one but two waterfalls on the day!
Burney Falls mesmerized us with it’s form and unique flows.
As we got closer to McCloud, Will surprised us and was on his bike ready to rip the last 15 miles with us! He saved us from the endlessness of the 89 with the local shortcuts to Miles’ place. Soon enough we were back to the luxuries of cabin life with friends.
Views of Shasta from Miles’ backyard in McCloud.
Upon arriving we were exhausted but our friends made us pb&j sandwiches and convinced us to go checkout abother waterfall and swim. We were so grateful for it...it was spectacular and awoke us more than any dip all trip!
Upper Falls in McCloud reunited with friends!
After returning from the swimming hole it was time for dinner and we were treated to a fiesta style meal second to none. It was headed by Robin and included her world famous guacamole that contains only the freshest of avocados!
We concluded the night by exploring the property next door, which happened to be a historic lumber mill and evidently the largest, freestanding wooden structure in California. The Mill was rich with history but it’s recent history is what I found most fascinating and indirectly parallels our own message.
The Mill had been out of commission for some time and Nestlé had been eyeing down the property to take advantage of it’s associated water rights. The megacorporation had plans to turn the Mill into one of the largest spring-water bottling plants in the U.S.—planning to draw 1250 gallons a minute from McClouds glacial-fed springs. Nestlé has been known for siphoning America’s waterways in struggling communities, exaggerating job promises and cutting corners environmentally to save cost (Read more here for some background). And who was going to stop them from doing the same in McCloud? Well...this small community of just over 1000 joined together to stop the project through years of legal battles.
A visual representation of Nestlé’s massive conglomerate, holding monopolistic control over multiple markets.
This is a story of a community uniting to fight against oppression and exploitation—a disguised oppression of a monopoly taking over a rural community and exploiting its resources. When all was said and done, the community came together to buy the Mill and protect it from the environmental and economic injustices of other monopolies. Born was the McCloud Millworks and the McCloud Partners.
“McCloud Partners is a group of American Investors with deep ties to McCloud and California. Our mission is to apply the right balance of economic innovation and environmental stewardship to the former McCloud Mill property. Our plan includes environmentally sustainable economic development allowing nature and commerce to effectively and profitably co-exist.”
The McCloud Millworks is now home to start-ups and small business, enabling the community to have true economic freedom while still protecting their land. This story shows the power of a community banning together to fight against a form of oppression. In this case it was challenging the monopoly capitalist society we’ve been indoctrinated into. A system that has also historically fueled racism, a sad truth that is taboo to discuss. Capitalism has been an inherent factor of the systemic racism in this country and the root of many injustices. I bring all this to light, not to bash on capitalism. Rather, to open up a discussion in improving a system instead being dogmatic.
Learn about the connections of capitalism and racism:
*A podcast on a very detailed objective critique of capitalism and it’s injustices
It felt like a Sunday morning as some of us slept in and others woke up early to fish. We then spent the better part of the day hanging out at another swimming hole, eating delicious food, and exploring the Mill some more.
Miles fishing the pristine creeks on the Mill property.
Alex training to be a firefighter at the Mill!
For a moment it felt like normal life—just a great summer day. Yet, here we were in a world that faces the daily sufferings of a pandemic and in a country that continues to oppress and suppress its own people.
Though, it’s days like these that remind us what we’re fighting for and how to fight for it. The story of the Mill reminded us of the importance of community and unity....and the power it holds. We will continue to unite for racial equality and fight against the wielding hands that seek to suppress the realities of our systems. This is greater than a movement, it is human progress. Our hearts are with those all over the country—from San Luis Obispo to Portland to Chicago. Stay safe and make your voices heard!