A cannabis retreat offers the opportunity to unwind and connect in the wilds of Trinity County.
Stories Isabella Vanderheiden
Photos by Green Goddess Media
Sunlight fell through towering trees and onto South Fork Road as I made my way to Sol Spirit Farm, east of Willow Creek in Trinity County. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from a weekend of “glamping,” but I had done a little research: a millennial mashup of “glamorous” and “camping,” glamping appeared to be lavish tents illuminated by white lights and adorned with hip furniture, perched amid breathtaking views. However, none of the glamping resorts advertised online were situated on a working cannabis farm deep in the Emerald Triangle.
As I pulled into Sol Spirit, farm owner Judi Nelson bounded down the dirt road to meet me on her golf cart with her cat, Nazmira, in tow. After helping my friend and me with our bags, Nelson showed us to one of three bell tents situated near a field of clover, backed up against the forest’s edge. Inside the tent, two twin beds held a gift basket filled with three Sol Spirit Farms pre-rolled joints, a T-shirt, and a water bottle. After showing us the bathroom facility—three private composting toilets and showers—Nelson left us to get settled and get ready for a tour.
The Sol Spirit property has been a farm since the 1940s, but when Nelson and her husband, Walter Wood, purchased the farm in 2002, they redesigned the property with permaculture principles in mind.
“Everything we take out of the land, we try to give back or make better,” Wood said. “Many people are under the impression that indoor growing produces a better product, but I want people to know we can create the same quality by going with the earth instead of going against it.”
After the garden tour, the guests, family, and farm employees all gathered together under a large tent for a home-grown meal of veggies and locally raised pork. I felt like a family friend instead of a guest staying on someone’s property. After dinner, we socialized at the dab bar with the other guests, including Humboldt Cannabis Tours owner Matt Kurth who was also checking out Sol Spirit for the first time.
“The setting is spectacular,” Kurth said. “Set in a deep canyon along a wild river, but with easy access from a paved road. … Sol Spirit is a great example of how we grow cannabis in the Emerald Triangle.”
Eventually, we made our way back to our tent and crawled into bed, which beat the heck out of sleeping on the cold, hard ground, especially when accented by the soft burbling of the river.
After a bountiful farm breakfast the next morning, the group set off for a day of rafting along the South Fork Trinity River. While the itinerary promised “a float down the river,” in reality, there were a few precarious rapids, but no one fell out of the boat. We did get stuck several times, and it quickly became apparent who had limited rafting experience (including me!). Despite the rough waters, it was a beautiful day on the Trinity and an excellent way to get to know new people.
Later that evening, I sat around the fire with Nelson and Wood as we looked at the stars and talked about the origins of their farm. Nelson told me how they were both Deadheads in their youth, which is how they landed in the Emerald Triangle. After enjoying the experience of growing cannabis for personal use, they decided to buy property in Trinity County and live the farming lifestyle full time.
“We jumped at the chance to go compliant because we wanted to have retreats and visitors at our property,” explained Nelson. “I love it here so much. This area is so magical and beautiful; I want to share it because it makes me happy. When you add cannabis into the mix, it really adds something to the experience and helps people to relax.” Eventually, the couple hopes to build another house and open a bed and breakfast on their property.
The following morning, I sat in a swinging chair hanging from a tree near our tent. I looked across the field of clover framed by the Trinity Alps and listened to the river murmur and the chickens cluck in their coop. I felt at peace. I didn’t want to return home to pending deadlines, rent checks, traffic lights, and the other mundane stresses of reality. I embarked on this glamping adventure expecting a fancy tent, but left feeling like I’d found a new family for the weekend.