"You know you're a rower when you drive by bodies of water and your palms begin to sweat." That's Rich Lavoy at a recent ARC men's racing team soiree. He continues: "You want to grab an oar (or two) and test those waters...except you don't have a boat." Over the last 5 years, I've increasingly experienced the Lavoy lust about interesting bodies of water. But increasingly I do something about it (bring a boat and oars) so I can, er, consummate the relationship with those bodies. And, I get some friends to join me...OK, that's not coming out the way I intended.
Shasta Lake is one of those bodies with rowing allure. It's an immense man-made reservoir just south of Mt Shasta and only about a 2-hour drive away from Ashland. With 30,310 acres (12,270 ha) of area and 365 miles of shoreline, you could row here for a very long time. The dam that creates this lake is the second largest in the US and features the world's largest man-made waterfall(!?) Another feature is that most of the lake is easily accessible. This is a mixed blessing, as the lake becomes "party central" in the summer months for water skiers, jet boats, wakeboarders and all manner of aquatic mayhem, not to mention house boat revelers. But, in January, Shasta Lake is a wonderful, pleasant place to be. And row.
|Some rowers may get sweaty palms looking at this.|
Ashland rowers drive by this lake many, many times a year on the way to and back from regattas in the San Francisco Bay area, Sacramento, Oakland, Long Beach, San Diego, etc. The I5 freeway crosses the lake twice and comes really close two other times, so the Rich Lavoys among us, experience many painful, aching and sweaty moments as we gaze longingly. This past week I had the means, motive and opportunity to row at Shasta Lake.
One of my friends who is similarly afflicted is Robert "Flip" Lombardi. He and I have shared many skiing, rafting, biking and rowing adventures, and Robert didn't want to miss this one. My adventuresome wife wanted to be in on this too, and finally so did Captain Paul Noyes, he of so many injured parts and bountiful spirit. We all brought Maas-24 open water rowing shells. Some of us remembered life vests. Some of us even remembered to bring them with us in our shells.
|365 miles (587 kilometers) of rowing potential|
White Caps and Black Socks
Our first proposed launching site (Antlers) proved to be too windy (white caps) even with all the appropriate clothing (e.g. my two layers of black neoprene socks), so we drove to another spot, Bailey Cove. This is near, by the way, to where the boats depart to Shasta Caverns (which is a potential segue to the Lemurians, but I'm not ready yet). The wind at Bailey was a bit challenging too (begging for a post on how to surf waves in a single rowing shell) so my wife and I elected to mostly row a bunch of 4k loops in a sheltered cove. We got about 14k in and decided to move on to another venue. I had Paul's lunch, so I put it on his front passenger side wheel and my wife wrote a note where we were headed and what I'd done with his meal.
It Hirz So Good
We looked at the map and decided that Hirz Bay, further up the McCloud arm, would be a good launching site candidate for less wind. And it was. In fact, the water became glass. It was January 21, but the temperature must have been in the high 60s. I shed clothes faster than an adolescent teen on a nooner. A bald eagle watched.
The water on the McCloud arm has a bit of the azure glacier run-off look, but is startling clear. This might be a nice spot for camping and rowing before the lake levels recede in the summer. FWIW, our route that afternoon is here. About 17k. Very pleasant and the antidote to the white knuckle ride from the morning. About 31k for the day.
Coincidentally, our buddies Paul and Robert, continued up from Bailey Cove to Hirz. Good row, gents! My hat is off to you (and I bet yours were too) after that wind. After they returned, Paul started to drive his car to the boat ramp while reading the note we had left him. Reading while driving!? Sheesh, Paul!! You are one oar shy of a full rigging. Anyway, Paul got to the part in the note about my leaving his lunch on the wheel and he abruptly stopped the car. Too late. Apparently, his squished sandwich was still tasty, even with SUV aggressive tread imprints.
After a curious conversation with the locals at a Lakehead pizza joint, we convened at our quaint 40s style motel, the Lakehead Lodge. I can't imagine what it's like in the summer, but in January it was just about right. Jim, the Gentle Giant, is an entertaining proprietor who may have spent too much time nibbling lead-based paint chips. Personally, I like him.
Someone Else Had The Same Idea?
During a sumptuous breakfast at the Camp Shasta Coffee Company the next morning, we learned from the proprietor that we were the first rowers he had ever seen on the lake, BUT the University of Oregon was bringing their entire team down in March. I hope they have as good conditions as we did.
We decided to do a point-to-point row, launching at a place called Antlers and making our way to the O'Brien boat ramp. We did a quick car shuttle and discovered that the O'Brien ramp was unavailable. Still, we'd be able to land next to the houseboat parking there. Again, the temperatures were hovering near 70 and we rowed in shorts and tanks or less. The water temp was apparently 51, so swimming wouldn't have been that big a deal.
Robert and I decided to add a bit extra and rowed up the Salt Creek inlet, a worthy scenic excursion. Below is our route for the day:
|Another fine route on Shasta Lake|
Big Foot vs the Lemurians
Ok, this post mentioned Lemurians, but it doesn't mean I have to write about them, does it? OK, well, Shasta is the edge of the stomping grounds for that alleged creature known as Bigfoot. The town of Shasta doesn't make a big deal out of him and neither does the town of Lake Shasta, certainly not like the town of Happy Camp which features a towering statue of the big guy (he looks like he has Marfan's Syndrome).
|Bigfoot agrees to pose with me and my family a few years ago|
Certainly people read about Shasta area sightings (e.g. here). I particularly enjoyed reading this authoritative account of Bigfoots (Bigfeet?):
The Bigfoot people are now very few in numbers around the world and around Mount Shasta. They are of average intelligence and possess a peaceful heart. They have also obtained the dispensation to be able to make themselves invisible at will to be able to avoid confrontation with us and thus, like the little people, avoid being harmed, mutilated and used as a slave race.
Now I would have thought the "little people" are the Lemurians, who live inside of Mt Shasta. But, it turns out I am dead wrong on this. The same source goes on to say: "The Lemurians living underground, beneath the mountain, are commonly described as graceful and tall - seven feet and up - with long, flowing hair." Seven feet tall! Damn, they might make good oarsmen and women. The lost tribe of the Lemurian Rowing Club.
Another source suggests an interesting history of the Lemurians involving lemurs, Madagascar and a German naturalist, named Ernst Heinrich Haeckel (famous for, among other things, his pithy but false dictum: "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny"). Ernst apparently said that some ancient land bridge spanning the Indian Ocean explained the presence of lemurs in various unrelated places (e.g., Madagascar, India, etc), but more importantly for our discussion, he claimed that lemurs might have been our ancestors. Just want you to know that I went to the original source for that one; I thought the other sources might be pulling my leg.
Anyway, this land mass bridge theory predates our knowledge of plate tectonics and continental drift, and the apparently popular theory of the time was that some landmasses (like the land bridge) simply submerged. Somehow, an English Zoologist, named Philip Sclater, coined the term Lemuria and this word apparently appeared in 1864 in ‘The Mammals of Madagascar’ in The Quarterly Journal of Science (source).
This, in turn, seems to have been appropriated and greatly embellished by different people to infer several lost races of pre-humans (Atlanteans, Lemurians, John Birch Society, etc). Ok, I made that last part up about the John Birch Society, but the rest is true!
How the Lemurians traveled to the Shasta area from a submerged land bridge in the Indian Ocean is beyond me (as is so, so much else). However, one of my sources gives me a pretty good idea of what might have happened: "Mount Shasta is not only a home for the Lemurians, but it is also an inter-planetary and inter-galactic multi-dimensional portal. " Aha! It would be trivial, then, to travel from just about anywhere to the Shasta area if you have the Lemurian mass transit portal system.
We only spent two days rowing on Shasta Lake, but there's a lot more than meets the eye. Well, there's a lot that meets the eye too (like massive amounts of rowable water!), but there's a lot that's hidden, like the various caves, e.g., Lake Shasta Caverns, near the lake. Next time, I will bring along some appropriate historical reading material and try to tap into the latent Lemurian wisdom and power. I wonder what the dues are for the Lemurian Rowing Club.