Stienstra describes ‘trip back in time’ for Meadow repair

Steve Gerace
Residents packed the Sisson Museum at the event led by Tom Stienstra to raise funds for repair of vandal damage at Sisson Meadows.

National award winning outdoors writer and Backcountry Sportsman of the Year Tom Stienstra came to the Mount Shasta Sisson Museum Thursday night to help undo the damage done at Sisson Meadows.

“The vandalism went right to my gut,” he said before beginning his slide show of an eight-day, 70-mile hike across the Sierras. “The reason I live here is because of the fabric of the community. It sets our community apart from every other community... there’s a sense of belonging. The meadow is not the most pristine spot, but it’s our spot.”

Stienstra’s slide show was all about pristine places, so untouched he described it as a trip back in time.

After the show, he drew tickets for a Siskiyou Land Trust fundraising raffle featuring 35 prizes, including one grand prize won by Christine O’Brien of Mount Shasta – a rafting trip led by guide Jack Trout and including gourmet food and wine. “He’ll teach you to fly fish if you don’t know how,” Stienstra said. She’ll be able to choose the river, Upper Klamath, Trinity, Upper Sac, Lower Sac or McCloud.

“I had a feeling,” O’Brien said about being the winner.

More than 125 people attended and close to $2,000 was raised to repair the damage done at the meadow. In a follow-up email, Stienstra said, “It is my wish to fully engage in our great community and overcome the doomers.”

Another $1,000 or so has been raised from donations made through a special link on the Land Trust website specifically for repairing the meadows, according to Land Trust board member John Brennan.

Board member Susie Boyd introduced Stienstra as someone “so famous I can hardly begin to tell you...” She said he has sold millions of books, hiked 25,000 miles, and “is the fourth living member in California Outdoors Hall of Fame.” She thanked him for volunteering to do the slide show.

“Sometimes out of an awful awful event comes positive outcomes,” said Boyd.

Stienstra was alternately humorous and philosophical while describing the scenery, history, challenges and delights on what he called “the best trek in America.” A journey he made with two others around the back side of Mount Whitney to Sequoia National Park, across the Sierra Crest and Great Western Divide, through Kern Canyon, which he described as “so quiet it felt like 5,000 years ago, like being in a time machine.”

As the glorious photos changed on a big screen, Stienstra described the Kern River as “the most pristine place in the USA,” a place where “every pool has a hundred fish... some of the largest mountain-bred fish I’ve ever caught.” Also a place where “instead of fishing we watched. Sometimes you have to let ’em be.”

Visiting “the last place on earth with Native Golden Trout,” he claimed there were “so many I decided to only catch them by hand, you tickle their stomachs and they get paralyzed.”

At a Shoulder Lake campsite, Stienstra said, “You could imagine what it looked like years ago.” Rock Creek, he said, “could be from the 1900s; it could be John Muir sitting there.”

Near Whitney Creek, he said, “I know John Muir and Ansel Adams camped here.”

He said a journey like this “is how you feel like you live forever... To extend your life, just walk. The slower you go, the longer you live.”

When you’re in the most pristine place in the country, “with no one within 10 miles, all these layers start coming off; you hear the one voice inside,” he said.

Stienstra described Franklin Lake as a place of “sand and rock, no trees and incredible sky formations.”

After the show, he said when he saw the damage done to the meadow by vandals, he wondered, “How can anybody do that?”

He concluded, “This is the stuff that brings us all together. Let’s do something about it; let’s do the right thing.”