Evening light on a snowy Mount Shasta.
There really hasn’t been much fall this fall, as we had a nice stretch of warm weather through October, then November began with an unexpected snow storm. A couple weeks of mild autumn conditions in the heart of November quickly gave way to more wintry weather. December began with a good tranche of snow, from which a reprieve of a few days of cold sunshine followed. That brings us to the present, as we are currently in the throes of another good winter storm, albeit at the tail end of fall. If this pattern continues through the winter months, the state will be given a respite from the drought we have been afflicted with over the last few years.
A couple days ago, after the last storm cleared, I headed up for another sunrise on Mount Shasta. The clouds hung close to the deck and Mount Shasta itself was not visible from where I was, though I could tell, that the mountain itself was not covered. Still, beneath the clouds, some pretty spectacular vistas awaited, as I was able to see Lassen Peak and the Castle Crags in dramatic winter conditions. It made up for not being able to see Mount Shasta.
As I was heading home, I had to pull over and capture a shot of Mount Shasta in all of its glorious winter finery. The clouds had backed away from the peak and the morning light drenched the snow covered crags. I love it when all of the mountain’s texture, especially formations like Shastarama Point and Casaval Ridge are pure white. The shadows really make a lot of interest in those conditions.
Though the storm had ended, we only had a couple of days before the next storm, potentially larger than the last, arrived. The evening before the weather turned, I headed up onto Mount Shasta for the sunset. It was a magnificent winter fantasy land, with the trees still laden with snow and the mountain glowing as the sun sank.
The snow has a tendency to smooth out the terrain on Mount Shasta. The snow has gotten deep enough for this to be the case on the mountain now. Ski trails were visible in Avalanche Gulch, beginning from up near Helen Lake and descending down to Bunny Flat. In the alpenglow, the gulch looked like sand dunes.
Needless to say, the sunset was beautiful. The change in color and texture is fascinating and, in the end, the mountain looked like it had been rendered in black and white before it got dark and the full moon rose overhead.
The next morning, the storm moved in with vigor, heralded by a lenticular cloud. The wind howled and whipped and the bank of clouds hung low over Black Butte Summit and the divide between the Sacramento watershed and that of the Shasta River. To the north, conditions were clear.
As I headed home, prepared for a day of stormy weather, I was struck by the view of Mount Shasta. The lenticular was still visible but the storm clouds were overtaking the mountain, covering its flanks and bleeding through the gaps in the peak’s upper crags. It was a dramatic sight but within a few minutes Mount Shasta was nearly gone, engulfed in the storm as it intensified.
The storm packed a decent punch. Overnight, it dropped 6-7 inches at my house. Of course, this was already on top of the snow left by the previous round of storms. Not to shabby. This was, however, only round one, as there was to be an overnight lull in the storm before it picked its intensity back up later the next day.
The storm’s pause made it possible for an interesting sunrise. I wasn’t sure if the clouds would let Mount Shasta be visible but I decided to head out and see what could be seen. To my delight, the clouds had cleared enough for the mountain to be seen, though an ominous pall hung over Mount Shasta and the area to its west. As the sun came it, the sky burst into flame, but only up to the edge of the dark storm clouds. Those withstood the sun’s light and hinted at the ferocity that awaited us.
Now the storm rages and promises more snow. We shall see how much it delivers.