This past lenticular season, as with much else from the winter, was an odd one. There were a few exceptional specimens of the odd-shaped clouds but, overall, we did not get a bunch of them like we normally do. The snowfall was also unusual, developing a decent (but still below average) snowpack in the Trinity Divide but never building up on Mount Shasta. Indeed, I have never seen the mountain this bare this early in the year. Nontheless, Mount Shasta still manages to surprise me in the midst of the challenging conditions.
June is not known as a strong lenticular month but the mountain produced a quality event yesterday, even as small bits of snow managed to fall around the summit. While it does nothing to abate the rapid loss of snow, it is good to know that Mount Shasta still has a few tricks up its proverbial sleeve.
The morning began with non-descript clouds around the summit. However, by the time I left to join the Mount Shasta Trails Association for a morning of work on the Heart Lake Trail, a nice cloud stack had manifested. Of course, I had to stop and capture an image of it on my way to the Castle Lake trailhead.
From there I headed off to work on the trail, which mostly consisted of decomissioning old trails so that the new route to Heart Lake was obvious. Given that it was a Saturday in the summer, the trail was packed with people but I was still shocked at the numbers headed up to the lake. This is indicative of the increase in use of the Mount Shasta area over the last few years but especially since the virus hit last year. I was even more shocked, when, on my way down from the lake, I saw a massive tour bus turn down the road and head towards Ney Springs. That is not and area that needs to be mobbed by tourists like that. I will have more to say on all of this in the near future, as it portends some coming changes to HikeMtShasta.
Clouds swirled around Mount Shasta all day but the large stack disintegrated by the afternoon. However, as the sank toward the eastern horizon, a new stack appeared to the northeast of the mountain. Very unstable, it constantly changed shape, growing and shrinking and collapsing then reforming again. I headed out to capture some images of it and Mount Shasta. Of course, lenticulars in this particular spot are always frustratingly difficult to photograph. The best place to get a good image of it would have been to head up onto Girard Ridge but I did not have the time to invest in that endeavour, so I had to settle for a less-than-optimal spot to try to capture the cloud together with Mount Shasta. The meadow worked well, but it still felt like something of a wasted oppotunity.
As can often be the case, other than the lenticular around Mount Shasta, the sky was spartan around the mountain but elsewhere, the heavens were filled with beautiful and many-layered clouds. While beautiful, I was concenered that they might block any good light from hitting Mount Shasta at sunset.
This turned out not to be the case. Moreover, the lenticular decided to grow as the sun sank beneath the horizon. The original core was still present but it suddenly expanded in multiple directions. The warm alpenglow set both mountain and cloud alight and then it was gone, and darkness began to set in (which takes quite a while, this time of year). It was a good day in Mount Shasta.