Road Trip Panoramas: Mount Shasta, CA
I started out from Ashland, OR early. Really early. There's a turnoff from Interstate 5 as you're coming out of the Klamath Mountains which allows a mostly unobstructed view of Mount Shasta in all its glory. It's really quite a thing to cross the Oregon-California state line and be greeted by this as the sun comes up. They say the best things in life are free. For me, this is one of the best things: when timing coincides with location.
Pro tip: When you're planning to catch a view like this, you need to know what time the sun rises that day. Don't wing it. Pick a turnoff on your GPS and be sure to make note of the terrain. Don't park on the overpass or onramps. It's not worth the risk; not every driver is totally alert at such early hours. Drive a little further and park safely off the road. Plan on getting there early: if it's a 1 hour travel time, don't leave 1 hour before sunrise. Add at least 20 minutes-- it's not unheard of to get stuck behind dueling tractor-trailers going down a 6% grade.
This isn't really the best photo technically speaking, but I wanted to demonstrate what happens if you "wing it" trying to get a sunrise shot. It could be 30 miles before you find a turnoff, and when you do, daybreak's over and you're under a blanket of grey shit. I mean fog. This is also a good example of my philosophy "take the photo anyway." Sometimes I see people huffing it up a crazy ass trail to get a better view. Then they take a single photo and come down with absolute garbage. Shoot. Review. Relocate. Repeat. There's time.
The first image made it seem like as long as I gained enough altitude driving up Mount Shasta, I'd have a clear panoramic eyeful of the surrounding landscape. Ohhhh no. Negative. I got as far as Bunny Hill before dead-ending at a chain-locked gate. It might have been unlocked a few months earlier, but at these attitudes, there's just no telling.
Here's Brienne (yes, from Game of Thrones) looking real sexy in the Bunny Hill turnaround. Man, thank god for snow tires. Those things performed beautifully. I only slid toward terrifying and certain death twice, but managed to regain control once I realized I wasn't sliding.
The snowfall was on and off both directions, but I think this is the first time I'd ever seen so much of it. I had a few moments of pause when the tracks disappeared under snowdrift. A few seconds of that makes you wonder if you're still driving on the same road you came from. Is this even a road? Why is the snow getting deeper? Is this even Earth? Oh look, a piece of trash. Okay, I'm still connected to humanity.
I have no idea what type of mushroom it is, and I didn't touch it, but it was a nice transition back to earth.
Next up, Shasta Lake. The boat ramp is about 1/4 mile from the top to water, and you can easily turn off the pavement and push ahead on the old lakebed. Careful getting there, though. Parts of the old ramp have washed out and drop off several feet in some places. If you're not paying attention, you will have a very bad day.
I honestly thought when I saw his truck following me down the ramp, a park officer was going to get out and start yelling at me. It was actually just a man named Chris, who works for park management. According to Chris, the water levels are unusually low in the last few winters, but the lake fills back up to the tree line during the summers. Very nice guy. Ask for him if you visit.
Next Stop: San Francisco