Monday, September 13, 2010

HAMMER time! Shasta Circumnavigation. (Aug 31 - Sept 3)

...far better than climbing [Mt. Shasta] is going around its warm fertile base, enjoying its bounties like a bee circling around a bank of flowers... As you sweep around so grand a centre the mountain itself seems to turn... One glacier after another comes into view, and the outlines of the mountain are ever changing. 

   - John Muir

Not sure if I agree with John Muir on that quote.  But he didn't have plastic telemark boots nor Black Diamond skis to shred the Shasta corn.  Louie and I completed a "Hike Around Mountain Moving Effortlessly Round" on Mt. Shasta.  Although there is no trail around Mt. Shasta, there is a bit of info on the Seltzers and Sanger book, as well as the "Backpacking California" book.  Unfortunately I couldn't find the book... fortunately we had a map, a good attitude, and gatorade bottle full of whiskey.  I'm guesstimating that the route was approximately 25+ miles X-country with 5 miles or so trail/pavement, and I'd give it a minimum of 3 full days (8+ hours) of hiking to complete.

Here's some quick info:
  • Going around Shastina is all scree... hiking boots and gaiters recommended... also hiking poles... also keeping your backpack ultralight helps.
  • Although there are no trails, finding a campsite was quite easy, provided you are just a group of 2, or aren't too picky (despite what we had read).  There are also a few semi-established camps, so to lower your impact we suggest camping at those sites if you can find them.  
  • There are bears, mountain lions, etc... but we didn't see any.  These bears aren't used to people like they are in the Sierras and usually run away from you, rather than towards you.  
  • Water isn't an issue except for the first day going around Shastina.  We did melt some water on the morning of day 2, until we got to a small stream.  If you start out earlier, I don't think this will be a problem.
  • Mud Creek Canyon is daunting... and there is no easy way through it (I recommend going high, where it's more sand-duney... and jumping)... here is a view of Mud Creek Canyon after we crossed the creek and got to the top of the other side.  I'd say that from the rim to the creek is at least 1500 feet.  All scree, kicking down huge bouders the whole time.  Go up high until you get to the black streaky slope... that area looked nice and sandy.  
  • Since you will be off trail, you will not see many folks.  We didn't see anyone else from the time we left Horse Camp, until we got to Panther meadow.  
  • The numerous waterfalls you can encounter on the trip...

  • Seeing the various glaciers on Shasta (Here is a view of the Whitney Glacier... the longest glacier in the lower 48).  

  • Finding this bear claw mark... 

  • The sunsets... 

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