May 15, 2011

Trinity Lake

Don't you just love the mountains?  The sounds of the wind blowing through the pines, the call of the osprey as it glides through the sky, the smell of pine, forest soil rich in its own mulch and, mostly, the smell and energy of adventure!

I was born and raised in Colorado and spent many, many days in the Rockies. Camping near a creek or river, sitting on a big rock watching my dad fish, running through the woods with my sister and brother. Now I live in Redding near the Sacramento River so I am surrounded by mountains on three sides. Though I can see them everyday it just isn't the same as being in them, part of them, in their mystical energy.

Pretty often my husband and I pack the car with our cameras, a quilt and pillows, lunch, color pencils and drawing pad and head off into the mountains for our fix!

Yesterday, we drove into the west, on Highway 299, headed for Trinity Lake. Not a spectacular day for photography with the cloud cover and wind but a great day for sweethearts to just drive and talk and be.

Trinity Lake is a man made lake, doesn't matter though, its gorgeous. Surrounded by tall trees, marshes and wonderful mountains, it invites one to sit still and be a part of it. "Join me in my celebration of life," it invites you with the whispering of the trees and the waves lapping against the shore.

Trinity Dam was built by the Bureau of Reclamation in the early 60's, maybe finished in 1964, if I remember correctly.  The lake was originally named Trinity Lake and later changed to Claire Engle Lake after the U.S. Congressman and Senator.  Born in Bakersfield and grew up in Red Bluff, Mr. Engle loved the northstate.

He lost his voice due to a brain tumor and still fought, without a the aide of speech, the building of nuclear power plants in San Francisco. Even though the name of the lake was officially changed to Clair Engel, it didn't catch on. The people of Trinity County are total mountain people and, by god, no one is the boss of them. They stuck to the name Trinity Lake and today it is once again, Trinity Lake.

I think there are about 147 miles of shoreline, though it might be 127, still substantial but way smaller than Lake Shasta which boasts 365 miles of shoreline.  I have often wondered what it would be like to take a year and hike the lake, one mile per day!  I know myself though and am sure I would find a nice beach or nice inlet and stay 5 days and make it up on the 6th day! 

We've camped on the shores of both lakes many times, skied on the waters in the hot summer and sang and laughed around campfires at night.  While camping at Trinity, my husband and I kidnapped a pair of Seattle Seahawk sweatshirts from some friends.  My sister and I photographed the poor sweatshirts in all manner of degradation, sleeping in the doorway of the bus station in the middle of the night, sitting at a dive bar with empties all around, hitchhiking along the road in the bad side of town! We sent the photos to the owners with a ransom note...I don't remember how the sweatshirts were returned but I don't believe the ransom was paid. Our Seahawk friends remained Seattle fans and would not come over to the dark side, the black and silver of the Raiders.
Yesterday, we parked at the side of one of the marshes. Binoculars and cameras in hand we hiked around, discovered wildflowers bursting in color here and there, birds galore flitting about and watching us. One osprey whistled as it soared above our heads. A little family of Canada Geese floated by. They, too, watched and studied us and we studied them.

We found a pine cone that had been completely dismantled and all the nuts broken open, little chew marks here and there.  Deer tracks, raccoon tracks..."Frank, is this a bear track?"

Back in the car we drove further until we found the campground we shared so many wonderful memories with good friends. We stopped, wandered around the shoreline, remembering the breakfasts around the fire, cold mountain air, a big cup of coffee sweetened with a large portion of Baileys or Emmetts.  Is anything better then smelling the smoke from last night's fire in your hair and clothes? Looking across the fire and seeing friends, sleep still in their eyes, bed hair and smiles!

All alone in the campground we even did a little making husband is a really good kisser!

It was a good day!


  1. Gorgeous! I lived in Colorado for seven years and loved going into the canyons. It is so peaceful there, with only the gurgle of the river and the occasional fly fisherman casting his line. Lovely! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Wonderful reading. I enjoyed learning the history and the photos are beautiful. I need to get out like you and Frank. How awsome that you two share that kind of time together. This may be the start of something new.


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