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Seeking solitude on Upper Sac

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POSTED October 6, 2010 2:24 a.m.
­ Looking down from the Interstate-5 bridges, the calm fingers of Shasta Lake eventually become the churning waters of the Sacramento River over a series of inconspicuous turns.

I’d be tempted to call Shasta glacial blue, but having seen lakes made from glacial melt I’d just call it a much prettier blue than the brownish hue of local reservoirs.

After a particularly unremarkable turn, there appears the river and all of a sudden the frenetic excitement that is freeway driving becomes an innocuous game of tag with the pretty Sacramento.
That is until an 18-wheeler drifts into my lane.

The Sims Flat campground is literally within sight of Mt. Shasta, and not off-in-the-distance sight. Crossing the bridge over the river to the campsite, the Sacramento looks like it is flowing straight from the base of the snow splotched mountain. There’s a suspension bridge built in 1933 that’s now a walking bridge.

Opposite the campground are train tracks and some good fishing holes. It is important to note, that when trains are using the tracks, they have the right-of-way. By the way, the tracks are very active, and big, loud trains use those tracks even if dudes in tents in the back of their trucks are sleeping.

I backed in to a campsite adjacent to the river, paid my $15, then asked the camp host with a dish if I could come over for Jersey Shore and ice cream later. I figured he would then put me on a campsite black list banning me from California forests and rivers, even after I tried to explain I was kidding.

I certainly wouldn’t be allowed in my home state, because there are some things you just don’t joke about, so I decided not to ask and instead rigged up and waded the river.

By the time I returned from the initial recon mission and decided and set up camp, I was again reminded it wouldn’t be a camping trip if I didn’t remember to forget something. In this case, it was the tarp for under my tent.

With the ground covered in needles, I opted to set up in the bed of my truck.

Tent assembled, my feet dangled from my tailgate as I peeled an orange after finishing off a sandwich. It was one of those times when lunch happens at 3:34 because even the stomach would rather be fishing and thus the reason it came before all else on the trip.

I suppose part of the late lunch was due to the four hour drive. It took most of the morning and the hunger to dip nymphs into the upper Sacramento River grew as the gas tank level dropped, and became more intense than the hunger for turkey and pepper jack cheese on a hoagie.

I caught a few little fish after the lunch break but knew the big boys were lurking, so I tied on a fly the size of a small paint brush because if they weren’t going to bite, they might as well not bite something fun.

So I sat on the ledge, waving to train conductors and watching the sun and clouds work together to create angelic streaks through the slightly dimming sky.

I figured the only person that might have it better than me was my buddy Ralph who was enticing the last of the silver salmon with egg patterns back home.

But it was probably raining up there, so I used the rest of the evening to soak in the feeling of being jealous of no one.

To contact Jeff Lund, e-mail
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