Sunrise from the muddy meadow.
A couple of days ago I go up before 5AM in order to catch the sunrise. Normally if I don’t see any interesting clouds on the mountain I will stay in bed but this time I planned to go to Mud Creek Meadow, which I prefer to call to Konwakiton Meadow (Konwakiton meaning ‘muddy’ in Wintu). The meadow has a fantastic view of Mount Shasta. This particular perspective is appealing for a couple of reasons. First, it is one of the few perspectives from which Shastina is not visible. Obviously I have nothing against Mount Shasta’s awesome secondary cone. However, Shastina does have a tendency to strike Mount Shasta’s profile into a particular form balance. It is a nice change of pace to view Mount Shasta as a solitary cone possessing simple lines climbing inexorably towards the summit. The best such view, and the one the looks the least “Mount Shasta” is from Ash Creek Butte but the one from Konwakiton is quite pleasing as well. The second reason the view from the meadow is excellent is due to the opportunity it presents to examine the magnificent features found in Mount Shasta’s Mud Creek basin.
Geologists believe that Mud Creek Basin is cut into “proto Mount Shasta”, the earliest parts of the mountain as we know it. Of the four major cones that form Mount Shasta, the Sargents Ridge Cone is the oldest. The flanks of the cone have been excavated by the Konwakiton Glacier, exposing towers, strata and stone the were once on the interior of the primordial Shasta heap. In the center of this geologic timescape is cut spectacular Mud Creek Canyon. This great trough cuts further into the mountain, forming the longest, deepest canyon on Mount Shasta. Wildness of the canyon cannot be overstated. Its unstable slopes still seek their angle of repose and are augmented by the unlikely presence of large hoodoos. It is one of the mountains grandest features.
Mud Creek Canyon viewed from Konwakiton Meadow.
A view of Mud Creek Canyon from the rim (image from November 2013).
Standing in the meadow at dawn, I was struck at how apparent so many of the landmarks around the Mud Creek basin were. Shastarama Point, Thumb Rock and the Konwakiton Glacier were all obvious. Most obvious, however, was Mud Creek Canyon. The great chasm was so striking one could not help but observe it piercing into the heart of Mount Shasta. Filled with snow dirtied by scree still sloughing off the canyons walls, it is a window into the mountain’s violent, eruptive past. Even 10 miles away from the canyon it inspires awe and humility.
Mount Shasta has many outstanding features but Mud Creek Canyon is one of its greatest. I would encourage anyone to explore the canyon, either from its rim high up on Mount Shasta or from below, observing it from one of the few vantages at which it is visible. It is “national park caliber” scenery and typically goes unappreciated from most of the mountain’s admirers. It certainly deserves renown that it has.
Mud Creek Canyon plainly visible cutting deep into Mount Shasta.