Whitney Creek, which flows out of the Whitney Glacier, races below Mount Shasta.
On Friday morning I got up and headed out to Orr Lake to catch the sunrise on Mount Shasta. The east side of mountain has phenomenal, though rarely seen, sunrises:
Driving out to Orr Lake necessitates crossing over Whitney Creek on Highway 97. This always presents an opportunity to check on the status of this frustratingly fickle stream. While nearly all the creeks on Mount Shasta are fed by springs, Whitney Creek is one of the few that derives the bulk of its flow from glacial melt. This means that there is likely nothing flowing during the spring thaw and during the cold winter months. It is only when temperatures rise and the glacier begins to melt that there is a chance of finding water in the creek. Of course, the main reason this is of interest to hikers is because the water in the creek means Whitney Falls, the most easily accessible waterfall on Mount Shasta (though it is an increasingly difficult proposition to get there) is flowing.
So, when I crossed the creek on the way back from watching the sun rise from Orr Lake, I stopped to check the flow on Whitney Creek. I was impressed with just how much water was flowing, even early in the morning before the temperatures had risen.
I have not seen that much water in Whitney Creek along Highway 97 in a long time. This current heat wave, though hot, is presenting an excellent opportunity to head up to the north side of the mountain and see the 200 foot waterfall thundering down into the canyon. Of course, it is worth mentioning, that the trail conditions at Whitney Creek are questionable. The creek has resisted efforts to allow a well-built trail to be maintained. Sections have been washed out and older parts of the trail are getting overgrown. I think it is time to revisit the possibility of organizing an effort to clear the overgrown section of trail and increase access to the falls overlook. That will no doubt have to wait for cooler weather. In the meantime, head up to the falls, if you are willing to brave the heat and the deteriorating trail conditions!