By Melissa Wynn
A very wet spring meant chilly temperatures well into June in our neck of the woods, but when the sun finally came out the streams were running fast and the lakes were full to the brim. Hooray! Water and sunshine have returned the Sierras. The time has come to play and where better than our own back yard?
Having a day and half to kill, we decided to explore a few of those back roads that I always pass and wonder where they lead. We spent the entire afternoon cruising one dirt road after another, stopping to admire the many snow plants and young ferns that were rare in recent drier years. Wildflowers were everywhere and certain plants seemed to be growing only where there was evidence of recent fire. Interesting. We also came to a sign, posted on an old piece of railroad track that read “Lassen Trail-God Help The Hindmost.” ‘Our Day Today Was…Mostly Up Hill and Rockey…Last Night Snow Fell On The Mountains…Everybody Is Pushing Forward As Fast As Posible. Fearing That Winter Has Set In and They May Be Caught In The Snow. God Help The Hindmost.’-S. Doyle. Oct 10, 1849.” There was something sad in the misspellings along with the harrowing situation depicted in the heartfelt prayer. You just never know what you might find when out wandering in the woods. As the sun began to set we found our way back to pavement but still had no desire to go home; after all, we were on an adventure. So, we spent the night just 10 miles west of Chester, CA on scenic Hwy. 36 in a little piece of heaven known as St. Bernard Lodge.
Owner operators Sharon Roberts and Jim Vondracek have been welcoming guests for 11 years and made us feel right at home. The warm and rustic St. Bernard Lodge has opened its doors to countless guests since 1929, just 19 years short of a century. It could be the beautiful knotty pine walls graced with antique Collier’s Weekly drawings, or the photos of the many St. Bernard dogs that have called the lodge home that keep the guests returning. There is something warm and inviting about turn-of-the-century décor.
Perhaps it’s the excellent food, like the thick juicy Rib-Eye or the huge, mouthwatering prawns that I had for dinner that lures them back. I hear the blueberry pancakes have admirers around the world. I’m sure the stunning pool table that Jim personally designed, in the fully-stocked tavern, has a few annual visitors that are still settling a grudge match from back in the 80s
Each of these charms entice some to return, but I know it’s the breathtaking location of St. Bernard Lodge that calls to us all like nature’s pied piper. St. Bernard Lodge is nestled in the forest, on 10 sprawling acres, next to an emerald meadow and is frequently visited by grazing deer, river otters and many species of birds. The view of Carter Mountain is spectacular and Lost Creek babbles along behind the stocked trout pond. A huge deck with tables and umbrellas overlooks the pond and pristine lawn.
During our visit it wasn’t sunshine but stargazing that kept us on the deck way past my bedtime. After a late night soak in the steaming, enclosed hot tub, I easily fell asleep under buttery soft sheets, on a feather pillow,
hearing frogs and crickets sing background to Lost Creek’s flowing lullaby through the open
window of our lovely Woodland room.
St. Bernard has 7 unique, cozy rooms and each rents nightly for an amazingly affordable $95 per couple with Jim’s hearty and delicious breakfast and Sharon’s down home hospitality included. Visit their website at stbernardlodge.com or call 530-258-3382 for group rates as well as dining and lodging reservations. After a great visit with Sharon and her son Geoffrey over perfect morning coffee, we bid farewell to comfort and went in search of adventure of the volcanic kind.