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California Hiking Mt. Shasta Area Trip report

Mount Shasta Meadows – 08/22/2022

We had planned a five day backpacking trip in the Wallowas but then a red flag warning for the possibility of abundant lightning the first day followed by more chances of thunderstorms over then next two derailed those plans. That trip would have checked three more featured hikes from the remaining twenty one hikes on our to-do list from the Eastern Oregon area. With all twenty one of the those hikes being located in the NE corner of Oregon (15 in the Wallowas and 6 along Hells Canyon) there were no alternate plans we could look to in that area to continue making progress toward or 500 featured hikes goal (post) so we turned to the Southern Oregon & Northern California book instead. For that area we still had thirty one featured hikes left including five hikes in Northern California, one at Mt. Shasta and four near Carter Meadows Summit west of Callahan, CA. A clear forecast and no wildfire closures provided a green light so we booked a last minute room at the Etna Motel in Etna, CA and once again headed south this year.

When we reached Yreka, CA instead of taking Highway 3 to Etna we stayed on Interstate 5 and continued south to Mt. Shasta and made our way to the Upper Panther Meadows Trailhead. We had tried to do the hike here in late July 2017 but a late snow melt that year had kept the gate to this trailhead closed so we had hiked from Bunny Flat instead (post).
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IMG_9690Lupine at the trailhead.

IMG_9687A line of smoke over the Castle Crags (post) and Mt. Eddy (post).

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From this trailhead we followed the Everitt Memorial Highway uphill a quarter mile to the South Gate Meadows Trailhead.
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Here we hopped onto a rock lined trail and climbed a half mile to a pass where we entered the Mt. Shasta Wilderness.
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IMG_9704Common buckeye

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IMG_9721Red Butte from the pass.

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IMG_9724Heather standing at the wilderness boundary.

From the pass the trail descended 0.6 miles to a signed trail junction at The Gate below Red Butte.
IMG_9733A dry spring along the trail. Ideally we would have been doing this hike (and trip) in late July for more wildflowers but sometimes the circumstances dictate when and where we wind up.

IMG_9740Approaching The Gate.

IMG_9742Shastarama Point and Thumb Rock

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IMG_9747The trail junction near The Gate. The trail to the right would be our return route to make a loop through Panther Meadows, but for now we went left following the pointer for South Gate Meadows.

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We followed the trail downhill through boulders from Red Butte then into a forest that provided the first real shade of the hike.
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IMG_9759A paintbrush and aster.

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IMG_9763Some haze to the south but we could make out Lassen Peak which is one we rarely ever get to see.

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Just under three quarters of a mile from The Gate we arrived at South Gate Meadows.
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From the meadows use trails head both up and downhill along South Gate Creek (aka Squaw Valley Creek). Sullivan showed a “monkeyflower spring” a half mile uphill and a “circular meadow” four tenths of a mile downhill. Not knowing when we might be back we decided to do both starting with the downhill first.
IMG_9787The use trail crossing the creek.

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IMG_9792In sight of the circular meadow.

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IMG_9798Marsh grass-of-Parnassus

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After a quick visit we headed back up to South Gate Meadows.
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IMG_9807Back at the meadows.

We then took a use trail up along the eastern side of the creek which brought us to the spring.
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IMG_9816A pair of common buckeyes.

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IMG_9827Primrose monkeyflowers and paintbrush

20220822_125455_HDRNot the “monkeyflower” spring but a smaller one along the way up.

IMG_9834The “monkeyflower” spring.

IMG_9835A couple of monkeyflowers and a buckeye.

IMG_9837I climbed a bit above the spring to check out the view.

IMG_9839Heather arriving at the spring.

We took a break here and one at the little spring we’d passed on the way up and then headed back toward The Gate.
IMG_9852A Clark’s nutcracker also taking a break.

Two types of monkeyflower and bog St. John's wortTwo types of monkeyflower and bog St. John’s wort,

IMG_9860One last pass through South Gate Meadows.

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Shasta knotweedShasta knotweed

IMG_9868Back at The Gate.

From The Gate we followed the pointer for Panther Meadows. This trail brought us through a barren landscape before climbing over some glaciated rock and entering a forest.
IMG_9874_stitchMt. Shasta from the trail.

IMG_9876Red Butte

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IMG_9880Glaciated rock.

IMG_9881Mt. Shasta and Sargents Ridge.

IMG_9883Into the forest.

IMG_9885The trail left the wilderness along the way.

Just over three quarters of a mile from The Gate we arrived at a junction with the Gray Butte Trail. We had considered taking this 0.9 mile detour but it was already 2:20pm and it was also fairly warm so we decided to skip it this time around.
IMG_9887The junction with Gray Butte behind the trees.

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From the junction the trail gradually descended a half mile to Panther Meadows.
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IMG_9894Another Clark’s nutcracker. They are boisterous birds and other than first thing in the morning we get a kick out of listening to them.

IMG_9895Stream flowing through the meadows.

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IMG_9899Gray Butte from Panther Meadows.

At a junction on the west side of the meadow near Panther Meadows Campground we followed a pointer for Upper Panther Meadow.
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We followed this trail just over a third of a mile uphill to another junction where we turned right and followed a path across the creek.
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We kept right for 0.2 miles to reach Panther Spring.
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After visiting the spring we backtracked a tenth of a mile and turned right for a third of a mile back to the Panther Meadows Trailhead to complete the loop.
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IMG_9928Picnic tables at the trailhead.

With the two side trips at South Gate Meadows and some other wandering the hike came to 7.4 miles with approximately 1900′ of elevation gain.

From the trailhead we drove to Etna and checked into our motel then made a quick run to Ray’s Food Place for some food for the week. It was a nice start to the vacation made even better when we saw that the Callahan Fire which had started on 20th just 6 miles east of Callahan had been fully contained at less than 10 acres. That one had the potential to do a lot of damage (and put a nix on the rest of our hikes). Our plan for the next day was to hike to East Boulder Lake as that was the closest to where the Callahan Fire was and therefore most likely to be closed if that fire were to spread but thankfully it sounded like that wasn’t going to happen. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Mount Shasta Meadows

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California Hiking Mt. Shasta Area Trip report

Black Butte, Horse Camp, and McCloud River Falls

We’d spent five days hiking in the greater Mount Shasta area but it wasn’t until the sixth day that we made it to the mountain that we’d been seeing every day during our hikes. In truth we were holding out hope that the Everitt Memorial Highway might be opened by the end of the week so that we could drive up to the Panther Meadow Trail but that wasn’t in the cards this trip as there was just too much snow still left over from this past winter.

Our plan had always been to do multiple hikes on the day we visited Mt. Shasta and with our other two hikes a go we looked to Hike Mt Shasta for ideas for another trail on the mountain and chose the Horse Camp Trail.

We started our day at the Black Butte Trailhead where we found a caution sign posted by the Forest Service.
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The slide referenced in the notice was said to be a mile and a half up the the 2.6 mile trail so we figured we could at least get most of the hike in and if it didn’t look too dangerous we could do the whole thing.

The trail began in a the forest climbing steadily as it wound around the cinder cone.
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We’d gotten an early start which was nice not only for the views but for the temperature as well since we’d be gaining over 1800′ feet if we made it to the summit.

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As we emerged from the trees we had a front row view of Mt. Shasta over our shoulders.
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While Mt. Eddy lay straight ahead partly covered by the 14,180′ volcanoes shadow.
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It was a little late in the year for many flowers along the trail but there were still a few as well as some other interesting plants.
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After 1.3 miles the trail came to a switchback revealing a small rocky gorge in the butte.
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Mt. Eddy was now behind us as we continued to climb with the summit of Black Butte in the sunlight above.
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Our timing was good as we were in a great spot to watch the Sun rise over Mt. Shasta.
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As neat as that was to see the Sun was soon directly on us and things heated up quickly as we clambered over the rocky trail.
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We were beginning to wonder if the Forest Service had made up the slide because we’d been hiking long enough that we were sure we’d gone further than a mile and half and hadn’t seen anything yet. It turned out that the slide was closer to 2 miles along the trail.
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With a little caution it was passable but it didn’t look like it would take much for it to get a lot worse. After passing the slide we came to a second switch back where the trail began to climb more aggressively toward the summit.
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After a third switchback the trail began a series of shorter switchbacks up to the summit where the foundation remains of an old lookout tower.
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Mt. Shasta’s shadow had been replaced by that of Black Butte, but the 6358′ butte couldn’t reach Mt. Eddy.
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Meanwhile the position of the sun made it nearly impossible to look at Mt. Shasta.
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There was a nice cool breeze at the summit and we lingered there awhile before heading down. After completing that hike we hopped in the car and drove to the Bunny Flat Trailhead which is where the Everitt Memorial Highway was gated closed.
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We had several options from this trailhead including Horse Camp, Green Butte, or a loop visiting both. Given the heat and the fact that we were beginning to run out of gas in our legs we opted for the short (1.6 mile) trail to Horse Camp, the site of the Sierra Club Foundation’s Shasta Alpine Lodge.

After filling out a wilderness permit we set off on the trail heading directly toward the mountain.
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After a short distance we turned left following a pointer for Horse Camp.
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The wide trail passed some patches of wildflowers as it climbed for a mile to a junction with another trail coming from Sand Flat.
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The trail steepened as we entered the Mt. Shasta Wilderness but leveled out some as we arrived at the Shasta Alpine Lodge.
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We sat in the shadow of the lodge for a moment then explored the area a bit.
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Behind the lodge climbers were getting last minute instructions before heading up the summit trail.
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Next to the lodge was a spring and spigot for water.
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We declared victory here deciding to leave any other hiking on the mountain for our next visit. We returned to Bunny Flat and headed for our final stop of the day at the Lower McCloud River Falls picnic area.

For this hike we were using a recently obtained guidebook written by Bubba Suess from Hike Mt. Shasta, “Hiking Northern California A Guide to the Region’s Greatest Hiking Adventures”. The book covers all of Northern California and has some amazing looking hike which we hope to get to at some point.

The picnic area is located off of Highway 89 about 15 miles east of Mount Shasta City. Similar to our visit to Castle Lake we were getting a late start due this being our third hike of the day and we found the parking area packed with people trying to escape the heat. We walked over to a signboard with a map and then set off towards a viewpoint of the Lower Falls.
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A little creative camera work produced a human free photo of the falls.
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We left the crowds at the falls behind and followed the River Trail upstream toward the Middle Falls.
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We passed by Fowlers Camp which was busy with campers as well as a doe searching for edibles.
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At the end of the camp was a pointer for Middle Falls.
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The Middle Falls were quite impressive and although there were a number of people around it wasn’t nearly as busy as the Lower Falls had been.
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From the base of the Middle Falls the trail climbed via switchbacks above the river.
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The next .3 miles were level offering a somewhat obscured view of Mt. Shasta.
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After a total of 2 miles we arrived at the Upper Falls.
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We continued on a short distance to admire the narrow gorge the river passed through above the Upper Falls.
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We returned the way we’d come and drove back to Mount Shasta City having completed 10 hikes in 6 days in California including visiting 4 wilderness areas that we had not previously been to. We’d seen our first rattlesnake, a bear cub and its mom, several deer and lots of other wildlife. We had experienced amazing scenery on all of the hikes and really couldn’t have asked for a better trip. The one negative happened after we’d showered and changed and headed out for an early dinner.

We chose a small Thai restaurant (the food was excellent) and when we were greeted we were informed that they couldn’t serve us any water. It turned out that the city had issued a boil water warning the day before due to some tests of the city’s drinking water that came back positive for E-coli. We’d been drinking the water all week, lots of water. It’s been five days since our last drinks and so far we seem to have escaped unscathed but we could have done without that scare. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Black Butte, Horse Camp, and McCloud River Falls

Categories
California Hiking Klamath Mountains Trinity Divide Trip report

Mount Eddy and the Deadfall Lakes

The chance of thunderstorms didn’t seem to be going away anytime soon so we decided to take a chance on our third day of vacation and try Mount Eddy, the highest point in the Klamath Mountains.  We set off early in the morning and drove to the Parks Creek Trailhead located at the Pacific Crest Trail crossing of Forest Road 42N17.

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We headed south on the PCT toward the Deadfall Lakes.

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We could see our goal as we hiked the PCT.

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Further to the south were the snowy Trinity Alps.

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Below were meadows surrounding Deadfall Creek.

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As we neared the Deadfall Lakes Basin we began passing some good wildflower displays.

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A little under 3 miles from the trailhead we arrived at a junction with the Deadfall Lakes Trail.

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We turned left heading for Mount Eddy. The weather was looking good and we wanted to get up to the summit before any thunderstorms might develop. As we passed by we made a brief stop at Middle Deadfall Lake before continuing on.

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The trail climbed gradually past a series of meadows where we spotted some California pitcher plants.

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The trail steepened as it climbed toward Upper Deadfall Lake.

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As we crested the rim of this upper portion of the basin we arrived at a small lake with a big view of Mount Eddy.

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Due to the time the sun wasn’t in the best position to appreciate the view but as we passed by the lake it had a nice reflection.

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Just a little further along the trail (and a mile from the junction) we came to Upper Deadfall Lake.

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The trail then climbed .4 miles to a pass where the Mount Eddy Summit Trail forked to the left from the Siskiyou-Callahan Trail.

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A quick glance at the map showed us that we had about a mile and a half left to the 9025′ summit and another 1000′ to climb. Up we went.

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As we climbed the views of the Deadfall Lakes gradually improved.

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The views and the presence of a number of wildflowers helped keep our minds off the climb. So did the numerous golden-mantled ground squirrels scurrying about.

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Rockfringe willowherb

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Mt. Shasta greeted us as we crested the summit of Mount Eddy.

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Looking north we could see that there was definitely some active weather happening but the sky was cloudless above us.

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We explored the broad summit and took a seat overlooking the Deadfall Lakes where we enjoyed a much needed break.

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We eventually pulled ourselves away and headed back down toward the lakes.

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By the time we made it back down to the small lake a few clouds had moved in overhead.

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We stopped at Middle Deadfall Lake and walked along its shore toward Lower Deadfall Lake.

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We followed the outlet creek down to the lower lake.

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The lower lake was lovely so we took another break here. As we ate another snack, Heather spotted a doe grazing along the shore.

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She took a seat under a tree and we wondered how many times we’ve missed deer or other animals, if we hadn’t been watching her we probably would have never seen her sitting there.

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We left the lake and returned to the junction with the PCT and followed it back to our car. Our GPS showed an 11.9 mile trip in all with a little over 2000′ of elevation gain. It had been another exceptional hike in the Klamath Mountains. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Mount Eddy

Categories
California Hiking Klamath Mountains Scott Mountains Trip report

Kangaroo Lake

We recently spent a week in Mount Shasta City to do some day hiking in Northern California. We drove down on 7/23/17 and on the way stopped at Kangaroo Lake.

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We walked down to the picnic area to eat lunch and look at the lake before walking a short distance back up the entrance road to pick up the Fen Trail.

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The Fen Trail climbed a hillside along a fen which was home to many wildflowers including Darlingtonia California, California pitcher plants.

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In a half mile the trail came to a viewpoint overlooking Kangaroo Lake.

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The trail continued for another .9 miles passing more wildflowers before ending at the Pacific Crest Trail.

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We turned left (south) on the PCT and headed for Bull Lake. The trail here passed through ponderosa pines with wide open views.

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The ground along this stretch was covered with balloon pods.

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We passed several thru-hikers including a couple resting at a damp hillside which housed more pitcher plants.

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Beyond the pitcher plants the trail entered a drier meadow where we noticed a collapsed structure amid the wildflowers.

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As we passed through this area I spotted the final few inches of a rattlesnake slowly leaving the trail and disappearing into a manzanita bush. It was the first we’d seen while hiking and just from the small portion we saw it was a lot bigger than the garter snakes and rubber boas we usually see. We made a wide arc around the bush and continued on, now on high alert.

Just under a mile after turning onto the PCT we stayed left at a fork in the trail which would have taken us down to Robbers Meadow. We did the same in another 1.7 miles when that trail returned to the PCT at a four-way junction at a pass.

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From the pass we could see Bull Lake below and Mt. Shasta on the horizon.

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We stayed on the PCT until we had nearly passed Bull Lake where we struck off downhill on a faint user trail to the lake shore.

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After a relaxing break at the lake it was time to head back. For our return trip we chose to follow a route suggested by Bubba Suess from Hike Mt. Shasta. Our plan was to follow his directions from Bull Lake up and over Cory Peak and back down to the PCT. We returned to the PCT from the lake and when we spotted what appeared to be a fairly open route so we left the PCT and headed uphill.

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The brush soon gave way to a rocky slope which made the cross country route fairly easy, just a bit steep.

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Using the track provided on the website we were able to compare our route shown on our GPS to make sure we were staying on the right track. It’s always interesting to see what is hiding back off the trails. We came to a small green bowl were a doe was grazing.

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She headed uphill on nearly the same route we were on so we saw here a couple more times before our route veered to the right at a saddle to climb up an even higher ridge.

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We arrived at the ridge top just to the SE of a snow melt lake below Cory Peak.

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To the SW the snowy Trinity Alps lined the horizon.

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Mt. Shasta and Mt. Eddy rose to the east.

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They were all locations we had plans to visit during the week. After catching our breath we followed the ridge along the lake and scrambled up to the top of some rocks which looked from the lake like the summit of Cory Peak. Once on top we could see that the summit of Cory Peak was actually further along a broad ridge.

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We made our way along the ridge to another set of rocks with an old sign protruding from the top.

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Here we found a geologic survey marker and a summit register.

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After another short break we continued west dropping down to a saddle along the ridge where we had a nice view of Rock Fence Lake below to the north.

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We followed the ridge down picking up a mylar balloon along the way. Our route passed a nice bunch of wildflowers and below some melting snow before we bailed off the ridge and hooked back up with the PCT about a quarter mile from the junction with the Fen Trail.

IMG_5044Looking back up at Cory Peak.

IMG_5045Mylar balloon.

IMG_5054Looking back along the ridge to Cory Peak.

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IMG_5075More of the ridge we descended.

IMG_5081Final stretch down to the PCT.

Once we were back on the PCT we returned to Kangaroo Lake on the Fen Trail and headed for Mount Shasta City. It had been a good start to the vacation and getting to see many of the areas we were going to be visiting was a great motivator. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Kangaroo Lake