A trio of “lenticulish” clouds surround Mount Shasta on a cold and beautiful morning.
The last few days have been busy for me and I wasn’t able to get out during the weekend as much as I wanted to. However, I was at times able to get out on the margins and still catch some sunrises, sunsets and do a little investigation in anticipation of one of my spring exploration projects. I submit these images humbly, stating upfront that there is no consistent theme to all of these images other than to show conditions around Mount Shasta over the last few days.
Firstly, I am quite pleased to find that the puddles in the Shasta Valley have finally returned! They were last present in the late winter and spring of 2019 but the weak winter a year later meant there were no puddles through 2020. Thankfully the hefty storm that sailed through in January of 2021 was sufficient to recharge the puddles and they seem to have some staying power for the time being. More precipitation will only serve to replenish the aquifer further and help them last deeper into the spring.
I have some significant explorations planned for this spring in the Little Castle Creek drainage. I have been doing some preliminary investigations to that end lately. On one early morning outing I was there in time for sunrise on the Castle Crags. This particular cliff it called Triple Top, and it towers 2,000 feet over Little Castle Creek. It still shocks me that such incredible features remain almost totally anonymous.
The crags mirror their distant cousins, the Sierra Nevada and reflect the light beautifully. John Muir said of the Sierra Nevada:
“Looking eastward from the summit of Pacheco Pass one shining morning, a landscape was displayed that after all my wanderings still appears as the most beautiful I have ever beheld. At my feet lay the Great Central Valley of California, level and flowery, like a lake of pure sunshine … And from the eastern boundary of this vast golden flower-bed rose the mighty Sierra, miles in height, and so gloriously colored and so radiant, it seemed not clothed with light but wholly composed of it, like the wall of some celestial city…. Then it seemed to me that the Sierra should be called, not the Nevada or Snowy Range, but the Range of Light. And after ten years of wandering and wondering in the heart of it, rejoicing in its glorious floods of light, the white beams of the morning streaming through the passes, the noonday radiance on the crystal rocks, the flush of the alpenglow, and the irised spray of countless waterfalls, it still seems above all others the Range of Light.”
It seems to me, given the granite composition of the Castle Crags and their similarity and distant familial connection to the Sierra, that they too may be called the Crags of Light. Or maybe I am being a little too dramatic. I don’t know.
Given Monday’s weather, Tuesday morning looked auspicious for some lenticulars and, as I had guessed, there were some over Mount Shasta. Mornings are always frustrating this time of year because positions with the best light are often harder to get to due to snow. With Castle Lake Road still being plowed, Lake Siskiyou seemed the best vantage from which to appreciate the clouds at dawn. Fortunately the lake was somewhat still and a reflection was possible. Not perfect, by any stretch but enough to allow the color in the sky to be appreciated in the gently rippling water. While the scene was not epic, it was quietly beautiful and a satisfying encounter with the mountain.
Looking closer to the sunrise on Tuesday morning.
It is interesting that Mount Shasta still looks a bit bare at this time. We have had a fair amount of snow over the past month, yet the mountain’s ridges are all exposed as if it had only been lightly inundated. I think this state reflects the fact that all the snow that fell was very dry powder. It has accumulated a good pack in some places but on the more exposed terrain, the wind whipped it off of the mountain very quickly.
Sunrise on Wednesday morning.
Wednesday morning brought another pretty sunrise. There were some vaguely “lenticulish” clouds around the mountain but by the time the sunlight brightened up the clouds, they had lost much of their definition. However, looking at the forecast for this evening, I am hopeful that something interesting may manifest.
As we are nearly a third of the way through February, I am eagerly anticipating March and the coming of spring. I have many places set to explore in the Castle Crags and that is the optimal time to get into those granite towers and explore the fountains and gardens that are hidden away in that jumble of spires. Until then, snowshoes and other winter sports (and some trips to Sonoma County and Prairie Creek Redwoods) will have to get me through the winter!
I really hope everyone is able to endure the rest of winter with warm hearts. The times we live in are deeply troubling but there is still much good in the world, great cause for hope, and spring draws nigh!
Have you explored the Little Castle Creek area for the petroglyphs? I have looked, but never found them. Barry
I had always enjoyed the Crags from I-5 until I hiked through and around them on the PCT two years ago. Such beauty. And having spent 30 plus years backpacking in the Sierra’s, I definitely get the range of light comparison. Beautiful, one could almost use glorious. Great photos, as always. And here’s to spring! –Curt
always love your photos awesome mountain