Sunday, July 26, 2015

Ahjumawi Lava Springs State Park

Paul and I were out of range this weekend camping at Lake Ahjumawi- a small park located in the remote Shasta Country, in Northeastern California- about 5 hours from our house.

Over two thirds of the park is covered by recent (5,000 year old) lava flows and the word "Ahjumawi" means "where the waters come together"- the 5 waters that come together form one of the largest systems of freshwater springs in the country.

But enough of the history lesson....

Paul planned this trip soup to nuts- which must have been challenging as the park receives only about 2,000 visitors annually- even googling for the above left me with only a few resources about actually visiting the park.

Access to the park is boat in only with three campgrounds (3 sites a piece) so we stopped in Reddings to pick up our canoe before carrying on to the public boat ramp known as....Rat Farm.

Paul had a ton of questions for the folks at the canoe rental- which was the best campground to stay at, the best route to canoe over, etc. The only tidbit of information we really got back was that when we got there, we'd know, by the crystal clear glacial water.

A smooth launch into the Lake and off we went! The views of Mt. Shasta were amazing and even though we caught a bit of wind, the scenery made the extra work worthwhile!

Paul had heard that the 2nd Campsite was the best- so we were off and gunning for that with the plan of unloading the canoe and then going off for an exploratory paddle (much less stressful without all of your supplies alongside). Aanndd we got lost. While we managed to find two of the three sites amongst the marshy inlets and shallow waterways- our 2nd campsite alluded us! Fast track what should have been a 60min trip tops to four hours and a massive sunburn later....we determine via our blogger post (who thankfully included their GPS) and an iphone Maps that we had found Camp 3 and Camp 1- with a rough estimate of where we needed to go for Camp 2.

I do have to say that we paddled the entire lake- to the point that our GPS was telling us we were on land (actually called "Shallow Lake") where we were pushing the canoe along with our oars.

The new plan was to start at Camp 3 and work our way along inlets and the shore until we found Camp 2. And so we set out exploring our first inlet.

Up until this point the water had been greenish and somewhat clear near the surface- often with seagrass and other greenery in the shallower parts. As we investigated the waterway, all of a sudden the water changed. It was crystal clear, very very cold, blue glacier water and I knew we had found what we were looking for!

Shortly after our Ja-She Springs discovery (no campsites- only day use) we found a hub of small fishing boats owned by the only other folks we saw that weekend, a bachelor party, and shared a campsite a short distance from their's in the coveted second campground- Crystal Springs.

I know right? All this secluded wilderness and we don't move on to another campground? It ended up that I enjoyed having campers close by after running into that black bear on Saturday! But that's a story for tomorrow!
After setting camp we did go back to the Spring for a *very* cold dip!


  1. What an awesome adventure, that sounds like an incredible park to visit!

  2. haha sounds like a great time - love that photo too!