Unsettled weather over Mount Shasta defined the unsettling last week.
These are strange days we are living through. The world is shutting down for a time, people are uncertain and aspects of hardship are setting in for many in shuttered industries. It is cause for much prayer and consideration. Nonetheless, up here in Mount Shasta, as with my family at least, the world remains almost entirely unchanged. I work from home, my wife works in an essential business and we homeschool are kids. Other than a few of their activities, little has been different and their awareness of any changes in the world only comes from overhearing their parents discussing things. Even the “shelter in place” order means running around on acres of empty land behind our house. I am grateful that they are able to live like this.
Fortunately, the last weekend, when the social distancing and shelter in place way of life became the norm, coincided with some beautiful spring weather. We still have snow on the ground on our house from the last big storm system but it really began to melt in earnest. We took advantage of the weather and headed outside as a family and enjoyed the marvelous beauty that is the Mount Shasta area.
The first day we headed out we did a fantastic loop on the upper Sacramento River. This is a great place to hike and enjoy the river as it flows through a wild floodplain. It isn’t too far from the road but any signs of civilization seem half a world away (listening to Oasis song of the same name as I write this). The colorful rocks and crystalline water are magical and it remains one of my family’s favorites.
The next day I was off to explore the Siskiyous solo. I headed for an elusive seasonal waterfall. It takes some interesting route-finding but is not too hard to reach. Unfortunately, when I got there it was dry, despite the rain and snow that fell a few days before. Its watershed is very small but it is beautiful while running. The falls are within sight of Mount Ashland in a strangely semi-arid environment. I love that kind of landscape. The day was made even better by taking an alternative route that follows the Shasta River through its spectacular canyon. I am surprised this canyon is not more well-known.
On Sunday we headed out yet again, this time to Weed and hiked a short but scenic trail with great views.
That night we capped it off with a campfire and hot dogs. The snow had melted considerably and it was warm enough for the kids to be comfortable outside. It was a great way to finish off the weekend.
On Monday morning I was up early to checking out the sunrise. The rapidly shifting weather meant there might be a lenticular. There was indeed a disk near the mountain. I headed over to Lake Siskiyou and was pleased to see the lake relatively still. With a great sky full of clouds, I was anticipating a terrific sunrise. It was not meant be, however. Clouds far to the east filtered out a lot of the sunrise light and pink color hit only a small area for only a brief moment. Fortunately I was in position to catch it and while it was not as good as I had hoped, it was quite beautiful.
Now another we are into another week of social distancing and winter weather. It is not a great combination. As I write this it is snowing outside.
Hopefully the weather will change in a few days and we can all head back outside again.
With the new While the shelter in place order is in effect, we have been careful where we have gone outside. We picked hikes and destinations where we are confident we aren’t going to run into other people. Thus far, in all four trips out, we have had only a single encounter. One of the great things about the Mount Shasta area is how easy it is to slip out of the well-traveled corridors and enjoy the magnificent creation we are blessed with while not impacting other people. There are so many off-the-beaten-path spots around this area it is mind-boggling. My wife and I are grateful to be able to share that with our kids. Only our oldest (10) is beginning to understand his good fortune.
I am thinking that I may start a new series on the blog. I have always kept the focus on Mount Shasta and the surrounding area, rarely blogging anything about myself or other personal activities. I have put up stuff about my kids (like this post) but I have lots of other things I have wanted to write about but have intentionally stayed away from. Now, as the world has changed a bit, perhaps I ought to change the site a bit too. I am considering two new series. The first would focus on places beyond Mount Shasta and even beyond Northern California that are important to me. I love writing about places, wherever they may be and this may be a good time, while we are sheltering in place, to travel there in spirit. The second series would examine music that I have strong emotional attachments to outdoor places. I have a strong tendancy to link music with places I heard them and forever keep them linked. I’m not sure if my personal associations would be interesting to anyone, but I think examining music would be a fun vehicle to look back on things I have experienced. I am even considering shutting down HikeMtShasta as we know it and just doing things like this. That’s another conversation though. Any thoughts on which direction I should take in the short term?
First, I always enjoy your posts and beautiful photography. I’d suggest maintaining Hike Mt. Shasta while integrating your other two subject areas. They both sound interesting. If one takes off, then you can rethink your approach. Places of beauty and calm are more important now than ever. Like you, we are lucky to live in a beautiful are abacking up to the Siskiyou Mountains (near Applegate Lake). We are both fortunate in this time of sheltering. –Curt
Thanks Curt. I appreciate your good words. The real issue I am wrestling with is the balance between writing about places and pointing people to them and not contributing to place being overrun. I truly don’t know where the balance is at. Reading your blog, it appears you have had some thoughts that might pertain to this. Any insight you have would be appreciated!
I remember Colin Fletcher dealing with the same issue in his writings many years ago, although with Colin it was these beautiful little places that he wanted to keep to himself. My experience over the years is that beautiful locations, easy to reach, and close to large population bases are most in danger of being overrun. The farther away you get from a trailhead, the fewer the people. Exceptions are trails so well known they generate traffic by their name alone, like the John Muir Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. Or really popular wilderness areas, like Desolation Wilderness. Even there, however, if you hike farther away from the trailhead than ten miles and stay away from Lake Aloha and the Velmas, you can fine relatively remote places.
It could be argued that trail guides that lead to less popular areas help disperse the hiking population without doing undo damage. And finally, and most importantly, I believe that getting folks out into the woods in an environmentally sensitive way helps build the constituency we need to protect those areas. There are forces at work that are much more dangerous to the wild areas we love that the hikers and backpackers who visit those areas. –Curt
I would love to follow your other passions but please don’t close down hike Mt Shasta. I just found your site and absolutely
love it. It has opened up a new hiking world for me. I have also shared your site with lots of others who feel the same. Thank you for all your hard work.
I’d say keep up Hike Mt. Shasta, and try the music concept as well. Thanks
Thanks Jane. I want to keep the site up, I am just not sure how to throttle back the amount of information I put out without breaking up the site completely. I have been experiencing a change in perspective with regards to how places are used…
Please continue to post Hike Mt. Shasta, and just do whatever else moves you. It would be sad for all us followers to lose Hike Mt. Shasta.
Hi Dorinda. I am not planning on doing away with the site completely. I am just trying to figure out how to balance making information on places available without making it too available and too many people enjoying and even abusing special places. I am trying to thread the needle…
Your mount Shasta post means everything in the world to me! I look forward to it day after day… Please don’t shut it down, if you choose to do other projects, I would appreciate reading about those too but Mount Shasta is very dear to my heart! Growing up in Southern California it was nothing but sheer magic when I would get to go up to my grandparents up in Callahan, and getting to see my very first Cascade at a young age has never left me and now I’m almost 52! Mount Shasta is my favorite mountain in the entire earth, it marked that I knew I was getting closer and closer to my grandparents way up in God’s country. Your pictures never get old or boring or look the same, they are dramatic and beautiful and I love all of the seasons and I love everything that you say…you have a precious family, I have three grown adult children and we raised them in Washington state and so we know all about raising them in the woods & in the mountains, now I live actually only five hours from Mount Shasta in Auburn so last year I got to go to the original Black Bear Diner and have my 51st birthday and look right out at the mountain closer than I had ever seen in my entire life, so your blog means everything to me! It keeps me in touch with my favorite mountain! And I’m going to go again this year, although my plans have changed I won’t be around any people except my husband. So thank you for all of your beautiful posts and pictures and keeping me in touch with my gorgeous mountain!
Wow Candice. I am humbled that something I created has meant so much to someone. I really appreciate your kind words. Hike Mt Shasta isn’t going away completely, if anything changes at all. I am just trying to figure out how to maintain the integrity of the sight without making it too easy to get to places and have them overrun by people, some of whom may not treat them ethically. In the mean time, I am glad that you have found value in what I have been putting on the site!
You are very welcome! All your photographs and descriptions and all that writing deserves a hearty applaud! You work very hard and it shows. Thank you for your reply. I am surprised to hear that the Shasta wilderness and surrounding areas have been overrun. Whenever I visit there, I feel like the only person on earth most of the time! I live in Auburn, right next door to the American River Canyon and let me tell you, this “wilderness” is what you’d call “overrun” by many, many people. But I’ve never experienced that in Shasta and Siskiyou. Thank you for your beautiful work of God’s country and my favorite place on Earth! I have been overseas, North, South, and Europe, but Mt. Shasta is supreme!
Maybe you can just change the name to Hike Mt Shasta and Beyond.
Pretty much echo what others have said. I also like seeing stuff about your family every once in a while. You were one of my very first blog followers and I’m saddened that I won’t get to meet you in person this year as I don’t pass through on the PCT. I’ll make it up there at some point, I promise.
Hey Ian. I am really sorry events took hold and you aren’t going to be making the journey on the PCT. I hope you get another chance to do so! For what it is worth, if you ever want to explore Northern California/Southern Oregon you should come up here to Mount Shasta and use our guest cabin. My wife and I love having people stay there and enjoy this neck of the woods. You can even do some backpacking on the PCT while here (not much of a consolation compared to the whole trail, of course). Just file that away!
I hope you keep the site going. It’s a great resource. About the other ideas, I say “write what you love.”
I’ve no doubt we will love reading more of what you love to write.
Thanks Jane. I want to keep it going, I am just wrestling with how to do so and not have too many people overrun these great places. Lately I have been increasingly dismayed with how people have abused the land and not treated the trails, wilderness, etc ethically. I want to write, I want to the resource there, but I don’t want to contribute to what some people have perpetrated. I am not sure what the solution is…