Monthly Archives: December 2012

Black Butte–A Child Born of Mount Shasta

Black Butte

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black Butte is one of Siskiyou County‘ s most intriguing and recognizable geologic features. Born some 9500 years ago during the same eruptive episode which formed Shastina (on Mount Shasta), it typifies the volcanic cone. Black Butte consists of four distinct domes that formed in a series of successive eruptions spanning just a few hundred years. As with Shastina, it is thought that explosions created a broad crater which was soon followed by an upwelling of thick, pasty lava known as dacite. The lava continued to spew forth and Black Butte was born.

 

Black Butte

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black Butte figures prominently in Native American lore. In one such story, the Creator lived with his son and daughter and Mount Shasta was their home. The daughter wished for her own space in which to reside, so the Creator built Shastina for her. She was warned to stay away from the area to the west, as it is the direction of darkness, of the color black, and of death. But the daughter felt a strong connection to all the animals and was very attracted to the beautiful rivers, lakes, and verdant meadows to the west. During her outings, she would hear singing. It was Grizzly Bear. He began singing her love songs and, of course, she fell in love with Grizzly, who appeared human to her. They wandered the hills and valleys together–and over time, Grizzly realized that the Creator’s only daughter is used to having a home, so he built Black Butte for her. Grizzly’s claw marks are clearly visible on the mountain’s flanks.

 

Black Butte

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black Butte has been known by a number of names, including Muir’s Peak, after the famous explorer, naturalist, and writer, John Muir. The first documented climb of the peak came in 1911, when a party of nine ascended to the summit at a time when there was no trail. Anyone who has ever hiked the 2.5 mile trail to the top knows how challenging a feat this must have been with loose scree and 40 degree pitch. It wasn’t until 1931 that the Civilian Conservation Corps began construction of a trail, with the intention of placing a fire lookout upon the butte’s summit. In October of that year, the lookout was completed. In 1950, a 1,350-acre fire  threatened to consume the lookout when flames climbed the mountain’s south flank. In 1962, the Columbus Day Storm racked the lookout, blowing off the roof and shattering windows. The Mount Shasta Ski Bowl recorded winds there at over 100 miles per hour. The structure was rebuilt and continued to operate until 1973. Now, only the foundation remains.

The trail to Black Butte’s summit is maintained and provides one of the Mount Shasta area’s truly spectacular hikes. The 360-degree view from the top makes this a particularly worthy destination. The trail is generally free of snow from May through November. A number of good local hiking guides are available, including 100 Classic Hikes in Northern California, by John R. Soares and Marc J. Soares.

Please contact me with any comments, questions, or suggestions.

Until next time, happy image-making…

Bruce

Posted in Mount Shasta Area Photo Destinations Tagged , , , , , , , |

Mount Shasta–A Veritable Winter Wonderland

Mount Shasta

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mount Shasta comes alive with the arrival of Winter. With over three feet of snow since Thursday, and more in the forecast, we are assured of a White Christmas here in Northern California. Whether you’re a family wanting to sled with the kids, or an avid snowboarder looking to rip some turns, the Mount Shasta area has something to offer everyone. Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and ice skating are just a few of the activities awaiting you in this Winter paradise. And needless to say, the photographic opportunities are outstanding this time of year.

Two of your best sources for area events and information are the Mount Shasta Chamber of Commerce and the Siskiyou Visitor’s Bureau. The Mount Shasta Ski Park is in full operation and will be hosting a New Year’s Eve celebration with live music, a torchlight parade, and skiing until midnight.

 

Mount Shasta

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Backcountry skiing on Mount Shasta began back in October. With the recent series of storms, we are now seeing significant accumulations on the mountain. The Old Ski Bowl, at 7600 feet, is measuring 114 inches of snow on the ground. Castle Lake, at 5500 feet, is reporting 43 inches of snow as of December 23. Both the Everitt Memorial Highway and the Castle Lake Road are currently closed due to heavy snow. For the latest information on weather, road closures, and snow conditions, visit the Mount Shasta Avalanche Center website. The Shasta Base Camp offers ski and snowboard rentals, as well as outer wear to keep you warm and cozy. Styles, Ian, and the Base Camp crew are your best source for local climbing information. Check out their climbing wall when in Mount Shasta. For those of you seeking a guided trip on the mountain, Shasta Mountain Guides is the area’s leading guide service. Owners Chris and Jenn Carr have spent nearly twenty years skiing, climbing, and guiding on this magnificent mountain.

Snowman’s Hill, on Highway 89 between Mount Shasta and McCloud, is a wonderful place to go sledding with the family. Located directly across from the Ski Park Highway, Snowman’s Hill was once a famous ski jumping destination. During the 1930’s, numerous competitions were held, attracting many of the day’s best athletes, including the women’s world champion, Johanne Kolstead. This is still a very popular spot on Winter week-ends.

 

Castle Lake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For those of you who love to ice skate, the Siskiyou Ice Rink, at Shastice Park in Mount Shasta, is open through January 6th. This outdoor rink is a favorite with the local community. They offer skating lessons and equipment rentals–all within the shadow of the mountain. When conditions are favorable, Castle Lake provides an opportunity to ice skate in a natural environment, but caution is always advised. You are skating at your own risk.

February is an excellent time to view the bald eagles at the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges. The Refuges are home to the highest wintering population of baldies in the lower 48 states. (See my blog post entitled, Bald Eagles Find Winter Home at Klamath National Wildlife Refuges.) The Klamath Basin Audubon Society is hosting the Winter Wings Festival, February 14-17, 2013. Check out their schedule. This is an opportunity not to be missed.

After a hard day of having fun, stop by The Goat Tavern, in the heart of downtown Mount Shasta. They offer a constantly changing selection of micro brews on tap, as well as the area’s best burgers–and you’ll get to rub elbows with some of the local characters, no extra charge. Hot Tip: $3 pints from 4 to 6 PM. Say ‘Hi’ to John for me!

Please contact me with any comments, questions, or suggestions. I’m wishing you all a Warm and Happy Holidays! May your New Year bring good health and abundance each and every day!

Until next time, happy image-making…

Bruce

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Bald Eagles Find Winter Home at Klamath National Wildlife Refuges

Klamath National Wildlife Refuges

Every Winter, the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges are home to the largest wintering population of bald eagles in the lower 48 states. Some 500 birds migrate here in an average year, beginning their arrival in November. January and February offer the best viewing at the Refuges.

The bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) is the only eagle unique to North America. The female tends to be slightly larger than the male–with her wingspan reaching an impressive 90 inches. Baldies mate for life and produce a clutch of 1 to 3 eggs, which hatch in about 35 days. The bald eagle’s nest is no small affair. The largest nest on record measured 9.5 feet (3 meters) across and 20 feet (6 meters) high, and weighed more than two tons. Juveniles develop their characteristic adult plumage at around five years of age. A bald eagle in the wild can live up to 28 years. While fish generally make up the majority of its diet, eagles are opportunists–waterfowl are the predominant food source at the Klamath Refuges and constitute the bulk of the raptor’s diet here.

It is estimated that in the 1700’s, North America boasted a population of some 300,000 to 500,000 bald eagles. For decades, the eagles were hunted for sport and to protect fishing grounds. The use of DDT after World War II nearly decimated our national symbol, until the EPA banned the highly toxic insecticide in 1972. Eagle populations have since rebounded significantly, and on June 28, 2007, the Department of the Interior removed the bald eagle from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. Today some 70,000 birds populate the continent–with more than half of those residing in Alaska. The bald eagle, however, is still protected by both the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.

For more information on the current status of the bald eagles at Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges, or to reserve a photo blind, visit their website at: http://www.fws.gov/klamathbasinrefuges/

Also, see my article, Klamath National Wildlife Refuges Offer World-Class Photo-Ops.

Please contact me with any comments, questions, or suggestions.

Until next time, happy image-making…

Bruce

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