in the shasta valley


This is an older image, shot in November 2007 in the Shasta valley in Northern California, in the heart of Siskiyou County. This area is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been on the planet, and it’s a place that calms and centers me. (As I write this, even thinking of being there is calming.)

I’ve ridden and driven quite a bit through the mountains there; it’s a desolate, sparsely populated area of unparalleled beauty. And the people in Siskiyou County are wonderful. They might not be the richest or the most cosmopolitan–hardscrabble is a good word for many of the people I’ve met there–but they’re damn good folks, among the most welcoming I’ve met in this country (the cows are pretty decent too, which is a tale for another day). Maybe it’s because it’s the home of the mythical State of Jefferson (a concept I can get behind), but I can tell you that the temperature drops 40 degrees once you drop from Siskiyou into Humboldt County, and it’s all because of the people.

On this absolutely gorgeous fall day, I was driving back from San Francisco, with an array of cameras in the car: my Canon 5D digital camera and lenses, a vintage Polaroid SX-70 plenty of film, a Mamiya 7II medium-format film camera and a vintage Voightlander 35mm rangefinder. I also had an odd creation, a lens sawed off of a plastic Holga camera that just barely fit on my 5D. This hack job focused poorly, with plenty of lens aberration, and had the tendency to fall off the camera if I moved too quickly. On this day, however, the combination of dreamy focus, plastic and the Shasta valley on a fall afternoon had a magic that worked. I’ve played with this image a couple of times over the years, but haven’t quite loved the results. The advancements in the latest version of Lightroom’s raw processor made me come back to it, and I spent a little bit of time there and in Perfect Effects to come up with a version I really like.

It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, with its plastic feel and lack of focus, but it brings me back to a place that I just love to be. Peace.

where is this?

4 thoughts on “in the shasta valley”

  1. I love it too. It’s like an image from one of those really realistic dreams. I’ll be back to stare some more later. 😉

  2. Beautiful shot. I haven’t been up there in years, but used to a lot of hiking around Shasta, Lassen and Snow Mountain in the Mendocino National Forest. Incredible landscape.

  3. This is a great, dreamy landscape.

    Many years ago, when I was a serious climber living in Eugene and “commuting” to Yosemite Valley I stopped to rest on I5 near Shasta and on a whim decided to climb it. The south side isn’t much of a technical climb in summer and I loaded up my climbing rucksack with a sleeping bag, some water and a bit of food.

    Amazingly, I got to the top in daylight and clear weather and decided WTF, might as well sleep up here. So, I spent a night up there and walked down the next day, then continued south in my 1970 “cherry” VW bus which I lived in during summers in the Valley.

    I never climbed Shasta again even though I spent many years climbing all the significant mountains in the Cascades and Sierras. I was in Seattle when St. Helens blew and saw it happen in real time and all I could think about was what if that had been Shasta the night I slept on it.


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