The problem with this time of year is that something interesting can happen in the sky above Mount Shasta on any given morning. During the summer, the weather is more stable and the sky lacks interest. However, in the fall and winter there is always the possibility of a lenticular or some other interesting event that will make a great image. I am loath to let such a scene get by and since I tend to be an early riser and like the solitude of the morning, it has become something of a habit during the fall and winter to get up early, check the conditions outside and see if I am going to head out and try to capture something. That certainly has been my pattern of activity the last few weeks. If it is not precipitating, I have frequently found myself gallivanting around the mountain, looking for an angle on something going in the sky.
This week has seen me out running around on three mornings, though only two yielded anything interesting. Monday was the first day I was able to get out and check the conditions. It elevations just a few hundred feet higher than in town it had snowed several inches, which meant that the morning was quite beautiful and wintry. While there were no great clouds, the fresh snow and the morning light still made for a very satisfying morning. It would certainly be nice to get more like this!
Tuesday proved to be less attractive. The forecast was such that it looked like interesting weather might yield something noteworthy around Mount Shasta. In fact, it was just simply overcast, with the clouds stick around at 9,000 feet. Recognizing that I wasn’t going to get anything, I went home and continued on with my day. It precipitated during the day but by afternoon it had cleared. On my way home from teaching a class (not a teacher professionally but I do teach one class each week) I stopped and pulled out my camera for sunset. I am always shocked at how the sky around the mountain can go from rain and snow to completely clear in just a matter of minutes. This certainly proved to be the case on Tuesday.
Wednesday morning things finally looked like it might get interesting. Looking at where the clouds were located, I decided to head to the south. This time of year, the south side of Mount Shasta gets the direct morning light and it can yield great sunrise images. Unfortunately, it can also be a bit of a frustrating endeavor to find good vantage points without the trees getting in the way. I went to one of my trusty locations and was delighted when the sky erupted in pink and purple light.
Interestingly, there was no direct light on the mountain. Instead, Mount Shasta glowed with the light reflected off the clouds that swirled about the peak. It was quite a stunning sight. Soon, the whole sky was lit up, while Mount Shasta continued to glow. However, clouds began to coalesce around it, partially blocking it from view.
Soon the clouds threatened to overtake Mount Shasta completely. However, the sun had, by this time, risen high enough for the mountain to receive sunlight directly. Spots of orange cliffs broke through the gray cloud. It was an unusually and interesting perspective.
In the end, this week has still failed to deliver a lenticular. This entire season has proven to be very underwhelming in terms of witnessing these unique and spectacular events. However, it is good to be reminded that Mount Shasta is more than a catalyst for these strange clouds. It is a grand and magnificent mountain all by itself and observing it in its glory it is a privilege, with or without interesting clouds.