Category Archives: Mount Shasta–A Place Called Home

Mount Shasta–Its Many Moods and Faces

Mount ShastaMount Shasta is a mountain of continually changing moods and faces. It is a mountain of striking natural beauty–a constantly swirling interplay of light and shadow, sun and clouds, wind, rain, and snow. Mount Shasta is a larger-than-life presence, an iconic mountain immersed in myth and legend. It is a living, breathing entity–an otherworldly landscape born of fire and ice. Hotsprings at its summit offer testament to its fiery origins living still, while glaciers continue to slowly and methodically scour out valleys as they have for centuries.

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Mount Shasta is sometimes a deceptive mountain. Warm and inviting in Summer, it can turn hostile and forbidding in Winter. Temperatures can plummet to below 0 degrees Fahrenheit and winds at the summit can exceed 200 miles per hour. Weather can change suddenly and unpredictably any time of year. Mount Shasta claims the world record for the most snowfall in a single storm–nearly 16 feet in the Old Ski Bowl in February 1959. Other forces, such as avalanches and mudslides, can drastically alter the terrain with little or no warning, as with the Bolam Creek debris flow in 1997.

Mount ShastaWeather is Mount Shasta’s most exciting and dynamic element. Clear skies can quickly turn dark and ominous. Thunder and lightning in the mountains can be terrifying–yet it is intrinsically beautiful at the same time. Skies explode in a swirl of color, lightning flashes, as rain falls through a shaft of sunlight. This is the indescribable magic that is Mount Shasta. This is the drama that makes for outstanding photography. And it is precisely my reason for moving here more than three decades ago.

I look forward to sharing other photographs, thoughts, and reminiscences in future posts. I welcome your comments, questions, and suggestions.

Until next time, happy image-making…

Bruce

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Spring Arrives to Mount Shasta

Mount Shasta

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring has officially arrived to the Mount Shasta area. With an unusually dry and warm Winter, the landscape is looking more reminiscent of May than early April. After receiving above-average precipitation in December, California experienced its driest January-February on record. Aside from the series of snowstorms in December, we never saw much of a Winter. High temperatures remained in the 50s and 60s throughout most of the season. A below-average snowpack and continued warm conditions equate to an earlier-than-normal start to the hiking season. Backcountry access is a month or so ahead of schedule.

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Castle Crags provides some the area’s finest early season hiking. Some snow still lingers on the Crags’ northerly aspects, but otherwise the trails are clear. This is a wonderful time of year to hike and climb Castle Crags, as crowds are minimal and temperatures pleasant. Creeks are flowing abundantly and Spring’s renewal is evident. With a base elevation of 2000 feet, the Crags can get quite hot in the Summer and are home to a variety of snakes–including the Pacific Northwest Rattler–so caution is always advised in the warmer months. Black Butte is another favorite early season hike. Its summit offers spectacular views of Mount Shasta and the Eddys. Some snow can still be found on the trail, though it isn’t much of an obstacle at this point. Waterproof footwear is recommended. Black Butte, like the Crags, is known for rattlesnakes, so please be aware and step carefully over rocks and logs.

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Backcountry skiing and snowshoeing on Mount Shasta’s south side continue to be good and should remain so into May, dependent on weather. The Old Ski Bowl (7600 feet) is reporting a snow depth of 104 inches as of April 1. Access to the mountain’s north aspects should open up a month or so earlier than usual–figure late-May to June. Skiing and climbing on the backside of Mount Shasta typically remain good through June. I have skied Brewer Creek as late as July 4th and found conditions to be relatively good, in spite of the sun cupping. Rafting and kayaking has seen an early start and short season on many of Siskiyou County’s rivers. The current flow (March 22) on the Upper Sacramento River at Box Canyon Dam is approximately 450 cfs (cubic feet per second)–too low for rafting. The minimum flow for hardshells and inflatable kayaks on the Upper Sac is 400 cfs.

Siskiyou County is rich with wildflowers and a few species are beginning to make an appearance, so pack your camera. This is an especially beautiful time in the northstate and photographic opportunities abound. I am offering photo tours to Castle Crags State Park and Mossbrae Falls, as well as other select destinations throughout the Mount Shasta area. For more information, or to book a photo tour, please contact me.

I welcome your comments, questions, and suggestions.

Until next time, happy image-making…

Bruce

 

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Mount Shasta–A Veritable Winter Wonderland

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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.

 

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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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Mount Shasta–A Place Called Home

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I arrived in Mount Shasta in April of 1981. I came here with a deep love of nature and wild places, but more I came as a photographer. Though Mount Shasta lies just east of Interstate 5–the main artery of the west–it is surprising how many people have no idea where it is located. We are situated 60 miles south of the Oregon border and, along with Lassen Peak, form the southern extremity of the Cascade Range. With its volcanic origins and incredible diversity, the photographic opportunities here are limitless. Mount Shasta, at 14,179 feet, dominates the landscape for hundreds of miles in every direction. Lassen Volcanic National Park, which erupted violently in 1915, is a reminder that the Cascades are very much alive and active. Castle Crags, a few miles south of Mount Shasta City, offers a little piece of Yosemite-like grandeur, while the Klamath National Wildlife Refuges to the northeast see the migration of millions of birds every Spring and Fall.

Siskiyou (pronounced Sis-Q) County, in which Mount Shasta resides, boasts 7 wilderness areas–including the Mount Shasta, Castle Crags, Trinity-Alps, and Marble Mountain Wilderness Areas. Towering peaks, pure, rushing streams, and a California climate make living here ideal. We recently celebrated Fourth of July all across America, and in the interest of celebrating our nation’s independence several years back, I spent three days skiing solo on Mount Shasta’s northeast side. Aside from the backcountry ranger who skied up to my tent to say hello, I didn’t speak to another human being for three days–and this, on the busiest holiday of the season. It’s that kind of place–relatively uncrowded and wide open.

All the seasons offer their reasons to visit the Mount Shasta area. As a skier and photographer, Winter is my personal favorite. Few things in life are more beautiful than the natural world freshly cloaked in snow. And that Winter light! But it’s Summer now and the livin’ is easy. The meadows are lush and vibrant with wildflowers, and the backcountry lakes are accessible.

I welcome your comments, questions and suggestions.

Until next time, happy image-making…

Bruce

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Welcome to Bruce McKinley Photography

Mount Shasta Photography

Welcome to Bruce McKinley Photography and my new website and blog. In the upcoming weeks, I am going to be indoctrinating myself in the fine art of blogging. As I do so, I’d like to share photos, stories, and information with you. I want to offer photo tips–from the most rudimentary to more advanced and experimental techniques. I welcome any inquiries into any of my photographs–the hows and wheres, etc.. If you have specific questions about some aspect of the photographic process, including scanning, photo retouching and optimization, please feel free to contact me. I will also share helpful links I encounter along the way–and please feel free to do the same.

Until next time, happy image-making…

Bruce

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