Fresh June snow covers Mount Shasta as the mountain reflects in a late spring pool.
Holy kinarsy, where did the month go? This has been an exceedingly busy June, with a whole host of activities diverting me away from normal life. My nephew’s wedding here in Mount Shasta, boy scout activities and numerous other commitments have divided my attention, time and labor beyond what I am normally used to. Thankfully things have finally settled down so I can get some things done around my house, like write this post!
This article has had a long gestation, since conditions and events have continued to change, fluctuate and generally get in the way of sitting down to write. The particular subject about which I wanted to write was the rain and snow that fell in Mount Shasta during the month of June. The first weekend of the month it rained, with snow falling at higher elevations on Mount Shasta. While I could not sit down and get the article written, the second weekend rolled around and, to my surprise, it rained and snowed once again. The third weekend finally came and, to my shock, the pattern repeated yet a gain! Three weekends, three rain storms leaving fresh snow on Mount Shasta’s higher elevations. It was quite a system!
That, of course, is the short version, but images of the conditions make it much more interesting. That being the case…
At the beginning of the month, the forecast called for rain and lower temperatures. I reckoned something interesting might brew on the mountain, so I headed out to Truchas Ridge before the weather came in. Sure enough, there was a fine lenticular near the mountain. In addition to the nice stack formation, the cloudy sky made for some interesting light. It was a nice herald of things to come.
After the storm passed through, the mountain’s upper flanks were blanketed with snow. It was nice to see at the beginning of June. Unfortunately, the conditions proved dangerous and there were several traumas on the mountain. I believe it was the most in a 24 hour period in recent memory.
Nonetheless, it made for beautiful conditions down below. The sky was filled with dramatic clouds and it seemed like the weather was on a non-stop passage through the area. It was turbulent and gorgeous and quickly setting up the next round of precipitation.
The second round of rain didn’t leave quite as much as the first, but once again Mount Shasta had been covered with more fresh snow. Rather than the meager snowpack melting off quickly during a warm month, the little bit of snow was growing! While by no means a remedy to the poor winter months we had, the new snow and rain were a welcome blessing!
The fresh snow also helped make Mount Shasta glow at night, as the full moon came the night after the snow fell. It was a spectacular sight, with the moon rising over Misery Cone. Once again, Truchas Ridge was the place to be in order to take in the sight. The views from there are astounding.
As June’s third weekend approached, the forecast once again called for more precipitation and once again, some nice clouds were the harbinger of the incoming system. Much of the fresh snow had melted off but there was still a surprising amount left on the mountain’s upper slopes.
Naturally, I had planned a backpacking trip for this month, thinking that it would have great weather. The plan was to take my boy scout troop on an overnighter on the PCT. We were dropped off at the Picayune Lake trailhead and picked up at Deadfall Meadow the next day. The plan was to spend the night at Porcupine Lake. Of course, it rained heavily the night before and the morning of our departure. Thankfully, there was little rain once we hit the trail. After we got to Porcupine Lake, there was plenty of fishing and peakbagging to be had!
Fishing from a precarious ledge.
I got up early in the morning to catch the sunrise from the ridge above Toad Lake. The conditions were harsh for a good image, but the lenticular next to Mount Shasta was pretty cool. It was a rather great way to start the day before we headed out on the PCT.
The PCT from Porcupine Lake to Deadfall Lakes is one of the most spectacular sections of the trail in this part of California. Though it had been overcast the previous day, it was clearing as we headed north, letting us take in the ample and far-reaching views. As the trail crosses from the watershed of the Middle Fork of the Sacramento to that of the North Fork, Mount Eddy looms majestically on the far side of the canyon. It was obvious that there was still a little bit of fresh snow on the summit.
Finally, as we traversed the head of the North Fork of the Sacramento River’s canyon, we got a good view of Mount Shasta. It was from here, in this grand setting but somewhat more distant than the previous weekends, I got a good look at the fresh snow that had fallen for the third time, on the third weekend of June. It was remarkable that the mountain looked so white at this point in the month considering the paucity of snow over the winter. The mountain loomed as we hiked the craggy trail (possibly the best single stretch of the PCT in the Trinity Divide), which is slung on rocky cliffs in this section. Once we crossed Bear Creek Pass we lost sight of the mountain and didn’t see it again until we were picked up and headed home.
Now the temperatures have increased significantly and no snow or rain is in the forecast for this fourth weekend in June. It makes me even more grateful for the three rains we did have and the fresh snow that fell. It was an incredible blessing. Even though it has mostly melted off as of Thursday night, the cooler temps and the precipitation that endured through the preponderance of the month has protected what little snow there was on Mount Shasta.
While conditions could be a lot better, they absolutely could be a lot worse. I am grateful for this unexpected blessing we received. It was unlooked for but absolutely needed and accepted with gratitude that it was provided.