Castle Lake Polar Plunge

by Paul von Hartmann

“One True Place” in northern California is Castle Lake. Because it is glacially replenished, it’s crystalline essence is some of the truest water in the world.

Castle Lake is part of the headwaters of the Sacramento River,sustaining a rich diversity of wildlife, people and farms, from the “State of Jefferson” to San Francisco Bay. A popular recreation spot,the lake is also a subject for study by hydrologists and biologists. Ringed by high granite, with Mount Shasta’s 14,000 foot summit just a few miles to the east, Castle Lake is truly a mythical jewel adorning a dynamic landscape.

In solidarity with the national campaign to “Keep Winter Cold” in December 2007, twenty-five residents of Siskiyou County took the icy plunge into Castle Lake to invigorate community solutions to climate change. Invoking mythical images of enchantment and brandishing ‘Excaliber’ added dimensions of reverent tradition and symbolic resolve, in hardy stewards celebrating nature, while demonstrating concern for this unspoiled, “spiritually charged” treasure of their community.

Our little film was meant to serve as a glimpse into a much larger story of true respect for a sacred place and people’s inspired passion to protect it. It is interesting to note that, at the time this film was made, many of the folks in it were engaged in a successful six-year struggle, to fend-off an attempt by Nestle International to build the world’s largest water-bottling factory at the headwaters of the Sacramento watershed, in the nearby town of McCloud. It is a story of ‘David vs. Goliath’ that continues to this day.

As Earth’s climate changes and pure water becomes more scarce, the message of this film takes on greater urgency. In the broadest sense ‘time’ is the limiting factor in the equation for a livable future. The question is, “How hot does Earth have to get, before all solutions are considered?”

Between the Dreams Productions
videotaped & edited by Paul J. von Hartmann
written & narrated by Angelina Cook

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