I was gone last weekend, having taken my family down to Sonoma County as part of my wife’s birthday activities. Of course, it is when I am gone that something as interesting and amazing as the recent avalanche in Avalanche Gulch occurs. If you missed the images posted by Shasta Mountain Guides, I strongly encourage click here and checking them out! Just like the way the Whitney Glacier continues to undercut the Hotlum Cone, this is a reminder that Mount Shasta continues to take shape and its geography is always in flux.
Snow flies off the many peaks of Mount Shasta.
Having returned home from being gone for a few days, it was good to see Mount Shasta again. My daughter had a dentist appointment in the morning and while on the way there, I was struck by this view of the mountain. Its array of peaks, the depth of the perspective coupled with the light and the snow billowing off the ridges really struck me. It really impressed upon me the immense scale of the mountain. While several thousand feet above me, it still looked like a series of crags one might see in the High Sierra or in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains. The peaks all seemed arranged along the crest of a mountain divide. I think that someone looking at this image could be forgiven for not seeing it as a single mountain but as a mountain range. I have long said that Mount Shasta is a mountain range unto itself and images like this, as well as the volcano’s enormous size certainly lend credibility to claims such as that.
Earlier that morning, I had the opportunity to capture another sunrise. The sky was pretty clear but something seemed to muddle the light and the color was not as vivid as I had anticipated it would be. Even if it wasn’t the grandest spectacle I have seen on Mount Shasta but after being away, it was good to share a quiet morning with the mountain, even if it was absolutely frigid. Sunrise on the mountain is great from many vantages but the view from McCloud is magnificent. The numerous crags and the way Mud Creek Canyon seems to pierce right into the Mount Shasta’s heart make it a glorious sight in the morning, as it is lit up by the rising sun. Seeing it compells me to renew my call for the “Konwakiton Trail” off of Pilgrim Creek Road. It would make an incredible sunrise amble.
This particular morning, the sunrise had a mottled appearance as the color slid down the volcanic flanks. The snow blowing off the ridges and points caught or shadowed light in a constantly shifting pattern. It was all very fascinating.
After the sunrise, I headed back over to Mount Shasta and conditions were beautiful over there as well. While Mount Shasta was largely in shadow, Mount Eddy and Black Butte were bathed in morning light and fresh snow.
All in all, it was good to be back home. Now, of course, it has started to snow again. Not much is anticipated but we shall see what may come.
All the ample water we have been getting here in Mount Shasta is certainly the case down in the rest of California as well. Sonoma County was inundated and the Russian River has surged over its banks, flooding parts of small communities like Guerneville. However, the rest of the county was exceptionally green. The wildflowers haven’t appeared yet but the mustard sure has and the fields are alight with neon green and yellow.
Taylor Mountain in Santa Rosa, seen from the backyard of my parents new, post-fire house.
I took my family hiking at Tolay Lake Regional Park while down there and I was reminded how amazing the county park system in Sonoma County is. They have done an exceptional job acquiring land for parks both large and small and have developed an impressive system of trails throughout most of the parks. It really is a miniature national park system, in many ways. The landscapes are surprisingly diverse and extremely beautiful. Most parts of the country would be quite envious of the beauty, the trails and the views these parks offer. Those who live in that area may not know how blessed they are to have such an amazing resource but I would encourage everyone to visit and enjoy these excellent parks! Of course, there is an awesome compliment of state parks to explore as well!
This has set me to thinking that the next installment of my Northern California Review series will focus on Sonoma County. Redwoods, mountains, savannah hills, rugged coast – the area really has a lot to offer! I also have another post in the works that highlights some big changes coming to Mount Eddy and the Scott Mountains. In the next few years, there could be some great new hiking…