Lately the Pacific Northwest has been calling, and I’ve been following my heart. I want to be where the air is fresh, the forests are dense and lush, and I can see for miles on mountain tops.
Last month I took a trip to where “heaven meets earth”, also known as Mt. Shasta. We booked accommodations at Guru Shasta. And let me tell you, I could have easily spent my whole weekend not leaving the retreat center. It’s nestled in an old pine grove, with 3 glamping tents, 4 mini cabins and the main house with 3 bedrooms, a full kitchen, yoga space and cozy living room. I highly recommend Guru Shasta for lodging for larger groups and wellness retreat accommodations.
Simply being in the presence of Mt. Shasta is awe inspiring. As soon as you arrive there, it’s time to bask in the healing and magic of the nature that surrounds you. My favorite experiences of the weekend were hiking to Heart Lake (about 4 miles total). You guessed it! You hike to a lake that is shaped as a heart with endless views and also direct views of Mt. Shasta. After the hike we took a refreshing (also freezing, beware) plunge at Lake Siskiyou.
On our second day visiting Mt. Shasta area we drove 45 minutes to Burney Falls. From the parking lot we did about a 3 mile total hike in the surrounding area of the falls and to the waterfalls. The falls are the absolute most mesmerizing falls I’ve ever seen in my life! I felt like I could gaze at the water pathways and channels on the mossy green rocks for hours. I definitely recommend allowing an hour to be among the waterfalls, without a rush to move on. While I was there it was a little too cold to swim, but if you’re there between late June and August you should be able to go for a dip! Give yourself the time to just be in your surroundings there. The longer you stay, the more you see.
In the town of Mt. Shasta there isn’t too much in terms of dining options but we did end up at Pipeline Cafe twice! I had the lamb burger for lunch on the first day, and the chicken banh mi sandwich for lunch the second night. Both dishes were fresh, great quality ingredients and the restaurant has a fun atmosphere, with a solid wine and microbrew menu.
After Shasta I headed further north to Portland, the Colombia Gorge and the Oregon Coast. Although Shasta is heavily forested, the lushness of Oregon is something else. If you go to the Columbia Gorge just about 30 minutes east of Portland, I recommend hiking Mt. Hamilton. It’s about a 6 miles in total hike and you pass through lush rainforest vegetation with a big waterfall called the whispering ponds. At the top of Mt. Hamilton you get views of the Hudson River and Valley that runs west toward the ocean.
In Portland I recommend visiting the International Rose Garden. Everyone loves roses, but have you ever been in a rose garden that holds the majority of all rose species that exist in the world!? So many colors, petal shapes, and intoxicating fragrances. Even the nearby public tennis courts were lined with roses! No wonder Portland is also known as The City of Roses. The drive from Portland to the Oregon Coast is mind blowing. I highly suggest being the passenger in the car ride if you can so you can keep your eyes “off the road”, and at all the beautiful rivers, and forest along the way. Did you know that it’s so rainy there, that the Tillamook forest is actually considered a rainforest - even though it’s not tropical, cool huh?
Two hours later we arrived at Rockaway Beach and stayed at a wonderful airbnb right on the beach, which stretches almost 6 miles long. The highlight of the Oregon Coast for me was Short Sand Beach. We hiked 1.5 miles down to the beach. The beach is a .5 long cove surrounded by cliffs that are lined with lush green trees and ferns, a waterfall and a river that runs to the ocean. It’s also a surfing spot, and fun to watch surfers catch waves. It was a bit mind boggling how they can handle freezing temperatures of the ocean water. Even for myself being a Northern California local that takes dips in the ocean at home, the water in Oregon was on another level of cold! Gorgeous - but cold.
The highlight for food on the Oregon Coast was at the Bistro in Cannon Beach. It was hands down the best steak I’ve ever had in my life, from a local cattle ranch. And the staff was so extremely friendly, the head chef and owner of the restaurant even came by our table to say hello and explain the secret of the flavors of the steak preparation was brining it in pinot noir for 36 hours.- Safe to say, I’ll make the Bistro a destination restaurant, if only to taste that dish one more time.
Up next is the Olympic Peninsula. More hiking, lush forests, kayaking, paddle boarding and great seafood on the horizon! What’s calling you this summer and where is your heart taking you? Drop me a line and let me know what’s up next. And if you’re out rocking your Swaay in the wild, don't forget to tag us, @swaay_official!
Happy Summer, and see you out there, Sisters…