While careening toward the end of February it was easy to start jumping ahead to spring. The snow, which had piled up during January had been only minimally replenished and was melting off at a good clip. On the other side of March the spring could begin in earnest and since the snow had started falling on November 1st, it has really felt like a long winter. It should not come as a surprise then that winter wanted to let us know that it still holds sway for another month. To do this, it summoned a storm of swift and deep proportions.
Most forecasts before the storm called for a foot or so of snow. That is certainly nothing to scoff at and necessitated all the normal pre-storm preparations. Some forecasts doubled the amount of snow but those were definitely in the minority. In the end, both were wrong and were underestimating the storm’s yield.
I woke up in the morning and, looking out my front door, saw a wall of snow much higher than I had anticipated. The yard stick showed 31 inches. Yikes. That was a heap of snow and it was still coming down. Indeed, it continued to snow for a few more hours and ultimately add another three inches to what had already come down during the night. The road in front of our house was no where near plowed and I5 was no doubt a mess but my wife felt like she needed to get to the clinic even though we could have just closed for the day. That meant I had to get and start clearing snow. I admire her dedication. I got her out, sent her off and spent much of the day moving snow around while managing kids diffing snow caves and such.
Fresh snow and Mount Shasta on a winter’s morning.
The day after the storm ended I was out early and enjoyed the fresh snow smothering everything. It was a glorious bluebird day, with fresh snow, blue sky and a warm sun. On my way home pulled out my camera to document the white conditions. I was surprised to see that the strange accumulation of snow on Mount Shasta’s west face had persisted despite the copious snow that had just fallen. Still, in most areas on the mountain it was clear that a lot of snow had fallen.
I knew that a lot of snow (for that arid area) had fallen out in the Shasta Valley and I wanted to get out there to catch it while it was white. My family and I headed out in the afternoon and found the southernmost end of the valley quite white but by the time we got to Truchas Ridge the snow was found only on the northern exposures and in the shadows. While not quite what I was hoping for, it was still really beautiful. We climbed to the summit of Cerro Pedernal and from there we could see that the western fringe of the valley was still pretty snowy.
The view from the summit of Cerro Pedernal is one of the best. Mount Shasta is the obvious center of attention but the cluster of peaks and valleys adds a great deal of interest to the views. This time, with the snow still lingering in the shadowy areas it was a slightly different texture than the typical vista.
While on the summit, I decided to climb around to the Pedernal Ventana, a small arch on the peak’s southwest side. The low sun makes the arch stand out and this time the sun was near sunset. The view of Mount Shasta and the southern Shasta Valley from the arch is great. Since the arch is on Pedernal’s southern aspect the snow had melted off quite a while before I got there but it was worth checking out nonetheless.
My family and I enjoyed the view and as the alpenglow began to fade over the white valley, we began our return. We descended to the sound of howling coyotes (not my daughter howling) and within sight of great horned owls flying nearby. It was a great end to a great day yet as we arrived home the clouds had already come back in and it is supposed to continue snowing tonight and for the next few days. I wonder how much will fall this time…