With the Lava Fire mostly out, small smoldering areas still create a haze around the summit.
The summer got off to a wild start for my family, as documented in part one of this short series looking at the Lava Fire. First boy scout camp, then covid and the fire raged simultaneously. Thankfully we all recovered, though the rode to health was challenging, to say the least.
At the end of that was are long anticipated, and then dreaded, annual trip to Yosemite. It was incredibly hot and our lungs, having suffered the virus, were still recovering and not what they normally are. Though we flirted with canceling, we decided to go anyway and brave the conditions. This year we were in Yosemite for 4 days followed by three more days in the Lake Tahoe area. Temperatures in Yosemite Valley were as high as 103 degrees and the water level was low in the Merced and all the waterfalls. We dealt with that by heading to the high country where cooler temps prevailed and spending a lot of time in the water when back in the Valley. In the end, we were glad we went.
We finally returned home to Mount Shasta to find the Lava Fire mostly out. It was time to poke around a bit and make my own assessment of the mountain’s new condition. Over several days, I made a few forays around the north side, along Highway 97, taking in all the changes.
While other fires in California have grown in size and prominence, the Lava Fire continues to burn in remnants
A bit blurry but you can still see flames burning above the Dry Canyon Bridge on the 2nd day of August.
One fascinating thing to watch in the aftermath of the fire is how quickly the Union Pacific Railroad was able to repair the Dry Canyon Bridge on Mount Shasta. This bridge is the tallest railroad bridge in the area (I think) and is a vital part of the rail link for the west coast. It was severelly damaged in the fire and as soon as things cooled enough to let repair crews in, work on rebuilding the bridge commenced.
Repairs on the Dry Canyon Bridge underway.
Several sections of the span were replaced and trails were back on it nearly a month earlier than anticipated. It was strange not hearing the trains running through Mount Shasta for the few weeks that the damage on the bridge made train transport impossible.
It will take some time to get used to the new conditions on Mount Shasta’s north side. I do manage to find some optimism in how things have changed. The remnant groves of aspens hidden in the lava flows have a chance at proliferating without competition and, perhaps, becoming a dominant tree on the north side. The lava flows themselves, shorn of the plant growth that has accumulated on them, will take a more prominent place in the visual landscape of Mount Shasta. This and other changed features may give the north side of Mount Shasta introduce and new and different character and beauty. Time will tell but the mountain presists regardless.