Mount Shasta had no light on it but the Graham Lava Flow had a subtle red glow.
I found myself on the north side of Mount Shasta last night, looking over the magnificent Shasta Valley as the sun set. I was hoping to capture the mountain, with its bare, snowless flanks turning red in the light of the setting sun. Yet clouds play odd games with the light at times and the mountain barely had any light at all on it. Oddly enough, the Graham Lava Flow, one of Mount Shasta’s largest and starkest lava flows managed to glow warmly as the light somehow slipped through the clouds and lit it up. It was an odd circumstance, that such a low, flat landmark would be bathed in light but the massive, vertical mountain would have none of it.
As interesting as the phenomenon was, I counted it little loss and not much of a disappointment, since, on this evening at least, the real show was to the north. Stretching out before me was the Shasta Valley, hemmed in on all sides by layers of ridges and distinctive peaks. The smoky residue of the McKinney Fire hung in the air and, what would have been unpleasant during the day made for a glorious sunset. The braids of ridges were highlighted against each other and everything was blanketed in a glowing pink light. There was just enough smoky haze to the west that the setting sun was safely visible to the naked eye. It was marvelous.
Obviously, I would rather there was no cause of the smoke but its presence was a welcome sight at this particular sunset. Late summer can be a really mixed bag when it comes to the conditions around Mount Shasta. Smoke is often present, but the mountain gets bare and the rivers run low. Yet in the midst of these conditions great beauty lies hidden, waiting leap out and reveal itself at unexpected moments. This sunset was one such moment. Nonetheless, I have reached my late summer fatigue and I look forward to October and hope that, just maybe, we might get one of those great late September storms.