Mount Shasta aglow on a fiery mid-June evening.
Summer is finally in full swing here in Mount Shasta and conditions in the high country are gorgeous. Though the winter left a deep snowpack, the warm weather has arrived it is melting off rapidly. For those who hunger to get into the high country, conditions are improving by the day, opening up access to a variety of high elevation destinations and trails. The land is in a sublime state, as life explodes as the snow recedes and beauty abounds wherever one looks. Now is the time to start heading high and enjoying the raucous creeks the rejuvenating meadows and spectacular vistas of Mount Shasta.
One of my favorite aspects of the late spring, when the snow is melting swiftly, is the fantastic seasonal waterfalls found throughout the area. I have already discussed one of the most picturesque, which graces the Old Ski Bowl. There are several found throughout the Trinity Divide as well. While there are numerous found throughout the Castle Crags, most are challenging to get to. Others are easy to get to and found along the rugged cliffs of parts of the Divide further north. One such is well known, flowing down the cliffs above Castle Lake. The roar of the cascade while hiking around the lake is a wonderful spring rite for my kids. Though the falls don’t last long, they are a welcome addition to the already terrific Castle Lake area.
Another of my favorites in the Trinity Divide is more obscure but is a blast to explore once it has become accessible. Though not particularly hidden, I think it is generally overlooked and remains unappreciated, for the most part. The cascades, descending a few hundred feet, certainly deserve more renown.
At this point, circumstances are quite good for hiking, considering how much snow fell during the winter.
- Castle Lake Road is naturally open. The trails in the lake area are open, even if there are a few patches of lingering snow. As noted, the waterfall at the lake is lovely but it will not last long as the snow on Castle Lake melts out.
- South Fork Road is open and clear all the way to Gumboot Lake (if not to the saddle by now). Cliff Lake and other destinations in that area are accessible. The PCT is also a good trail option in this area.
- Parks Creek Road is open to about 6,500 feet before the snow starts to get iffy on the road. Needless to say, the deep snowdrift that always lingers just before the pass is still there. However, the trail to the Caldwell Lakes is open and there are plenty of other areas to explore in the vicinity.
- Everitt Memorial Highway is open to Bunny Flat. The road is gated there and a few feet of snow still lingers on the road just beyond. Though the lodge at Horse Camp is still buried in snow, it is possible to hike out there, though on snow. The entire area is melting out swiftly, so it won’t take too long before the entire area is opened up. Note the conditions in the two images below for comparison:
On a personal note, I have one or two more blog posts planned for this weekend before I sign off for a month. Next week I am taking my wife and three kids on a roadtrip to Indiana and back. We are going to hit a number of national parks and other destinations. My kids have never been further east than Carson City and I am excited for them to experience Moab, the Great Plains (I will expand on this in a post this weekend), humidity, fire flies, cardinals and pork tenderloin sandwiches*. After that we will be in Yosemite for a while. It is going to be a long, great month. I look forward to checking in with everyone when I get back.
*Bonus points to whoever watches the pork tenderloin link.
Ryan Spitz came into Bunny Flat on 6/12 at the end of his 330 mile run from Arcata. He intended to go up to Lake Helen, but above Sand Flat the snow was too slushy and too much of a problem, so he diverted to Bunny Flat, and finished an hour or two early. He started on June 6, that’s about 47 miles per day, but he did 70 on the first day. Joy and I went up to see him, thinking we would an entirely fagged person, but he was ready to run back, I think. At least he looked like he could.
Wow! That is an impressive accomplishment. Do you think more people will make the run next year?
Have a wonderful trip with your family