Sunset glow lights up Mount Shasta.
February felt like a long, icy month in 2019 and the clouds and precipitation continued into March. However, as the natural order of things proceeds, the sky has cleared and the sun has begun to melt off all the snow. This meant that, after seemingly taking a few weeks off from getting up to watch sunrises, I could return to one of my favorite endeavors. The time spent watching the sun come up while much of the world sleeps always feels like a terrific investment. The sound of the wind, of water rushing, of creatures awakening is always rich and embellishes the spectacular scene of the sun coming up somewhere around the mountain.
Saturday was the first day I headed out. There weren’t many clouds to speak of, which is always a bit of a disappointment, since the character of the clouds has tremendous influence on the sunrise. I decided to head up to Bunny Flat, which is in classic winter form:
The snow is obviously deep but a path to the top has been cut in at the east end of the parking area. Despite being early in the morning, there was a fair amount of activity, as folks were preparing to head out onto the mountain for the day. I set up my camera and took in the scene as the sun came up. However, this time of year the sun is positioned in such a way that minimal sunlight actually hits the visible parts of the mountain. It was beautiful nonetheless.
With my telephoto lens I looked up at Thumb Rock and the Crags that lie just below it. These were catching the morning light, which revealed that they were covered not with snow but with rime ice. It certainly looked cold:
Looking to the south, I observed the Grey Rocks, one of my favorite peaks in the region. These, along with Battle Rock (aka Castle Spire) were lit brightly. This is an easy scene to catch but remains one of my favorites on the mountain.
Satisfied with what I had witnessed, I headed home, ready to continue the rest of the day.
The next morning, I got up early again but I could see a large network of clouds sailing south over Mount Shasta. Given their position, I knew that north with the direction to go in. I considered heading out towards the Shasta Big Springs Ranch off of A-12 but decided to not break my habit, opting instead for my favorite reflection puddle. I figured I needed to take advantage of it while I could, before the warmer, drier weather causes it to dry up. I am glad I went this route. It was a magnificent sunrise.
Finally, Monday morning I decided to take another stab at Bunny Flat, but as the sun came up, there were no clouds whatsoever. Disappointed I headed down the mountain. However, at the unplowed entrance to the John Everitt Lookout, I decided to stop and see what I could see of the Trinity Divide to the west. Climbing up onto the high snow wall, I was glad I did. It was a beautiful perspective on the mountains and nice to see their snowy condition.
Satisfied, I headed home once again. In the evening, my gracious wife released me to go play on the mountain once again. However, as I began the climb up to Bunny Flat, I quickly found the road gated just past McBride Springs. A sheriff and a couple of CHP vehicles blocked the road. From the officers I learned that there had been an avalanche about 30 minutes earlier that had partially covered the road. After the massive avalanche that occurred in February, this did not come entirely as a surprise, though it was intriguing.
Undeterred, I shifted gears and instead headed up toward Castle Lake, the road having just been opened. I chose this spot because I reckoned it might give me a good perspective on the avalanche. Again using my telephoto lens, I scanned the mountain, but could see no avalanche signs other than the deep trough cut by the big one from February. It turned out to be a small avalanche on the large cut along the road, just below Bunny Flat.
I stuck around for the sunset, which proved a little more interesting than I had anticipated. Though there were no clouds in the sky, there was one forming right on the mountain’s summit. Small satellite clouds swiftly formed and dissipated. The whole spectacle, coupled with the shrinking alpenglow, was an edifying sight.
Despite more rain arriving soon, I can feel spring coming too. The temperatures are warming and the window for fresh snow is beginning to close. While I eagerly anticipate the spring and summer, their imminent arrival makes it easier to enjoy the snow while it is here. At this point, I am thankful for the opportunity to stand on a snowbank watching the alpenglow on Mount Shasta.
Of course, after writing this post up, the very next sunrise was a beautiful one. It certainly deserves inclusion!
Later in the day the small lenticular seen in the morning grew just a bit:
Unfortunately, as is often the case with clouds like these, it ultimately morphed into overcast skies and is raining now. I am glad to have captured this one when I did!