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The 4-acre park commemorates William B. Ide, the Republic of California's first and only president. The Republic of California was proclaimed on June 14,following the Bear Flag Rebellion, and lasted only 3 weeks. In summer, the park is open from 8am to sunset, and the house from noon to 4pm; call ahead in winter. The major town and gateway to the area is Redding, the hub of the panoramic Shasta-Cascade region, at the top of the Sacramento Valley.
Returning towards the town of Mount Shasta about 15 minutes away in the morning, cars could be spotted at nearly every turnout presumably making a free stay while the town has several motels for those preferring that route as well. Temps were down drastically from when we setout on the the trail just a few hours earlier and my legs were completely ready for a real rest; we started looking for just about any gully with enough snow for water and a semi-flat point to make camp.
Despite the new snow and remarks about the lack of a defined trail on some of the sites I had studied, it was easy going at the start, at least in route finding. After an hour in and at around 12, we could see the wind whipping snow and ice around above us and set in for our first break, surprisingly neither of us had much of any s of altitude issues and took it all as a good for the day to come. At last, the summit… except that, now free from storm clouds and slopes of the mountain, we could see that the summit was no where near the ridge we had ascended and instead lay across the face of the mountain.
The Hilton of campsites!
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Just enough to load up the packs and go. Cold and tied, I knew I was not having an A day but our progress supported shasta of us moving on for the adult being so long as we kept moving — stopping too much was just too cold. Big gusts rolled in and motivated us to turn over our packs, stash our boots and check for any lose gear just as an unexpected wave of snow started falling. Looking up the mountain after the storm finished dumping down we still had no clue of what was to come ahead! Around the start of October my climbing partner shot me a text with the impossible: we both had four days off and the weather was playing nice!
Still, we figured it would only take 5 or 6 hours at most to get to camp and with free chance of company to chat with there no reason to start early so we grabbed breakfast at a funky, but tasty, little cafe called Wassayaks and waited for the Ranger Station to open rather than self registering. For anyone planning this route, the path up from Mushroom rock is located just above and behind it. Off he went and room a bit of a break to recharge, I decided to follow along to see the base of those final feet for the chat summit and stay in visual proximity.
Snow pockets can also be found in shaded dips lower on the mountain like these ones. Just ahead lays a few patches of growth where the main camp areas are and the stream crossing. Call it the rookie reaction if you will, after all, we had ditched the idea of a bivvy and mount in a 4 season tent deed to endure far worse, had 20 degree or better sleeping bags, down jackets, spare food, freshly boiled water and even cell al to check on things but it still tripped me out and kept us tent bound for hours.
Trail review: late season climbing on mount shasta via clear creek (16 miles, 7,′, days)
Free from any falls, we made out way off the section and onto the trail where we both took little slips on rock scree, now without any risk of real run off before hightailing it down. Just be sure to look for the final left turn, marked here.
The trip to Mushroom rock took all of 40 minutes versus the hours we had spent ascending and the winds had died enough to ditch our puffys now as we picked up the pace to move down. By the time we passed the 10k threshold, the trail was pretty much just pushing us up the ridge in an unrelenting, calf burning way while the winds had picked up from constant cold breezes to serious gusts.
Driving along it was clear that timeline had shifted or grown but with enough al to re-check, all still looked light. A few more minutes of moving from the top of the slope to the rocks at the summit ridge and there it was. After a few pauses under the shelter of trees to try and wait out the weather, we finally gave in, pulled out shells and covered up.
The drive up to Clear Creek is simple enough if you follow the map from the ranger station, your GPS and the s along the way. The clouds even started to part and give us a few mountain views though not up to the summit.
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The snowfall from the day before blanketed much of the trail heading out of camp and though it obscured the way higher up, it made the scree that much easier to ascend. With little time to plan and few reports to go from on recent ascents we settled on the east face and the common Clear Creek Route Class I for our attempt.
When we set out for our climb, the weather gurus called for a little drizzle down low and a little snow up high, mostly set to be gone before we were even going to hit the trail and certainly over by the time we got near it. The facilities at the Clear Creek trailhead. Heading out for the Clear Creek Trailhead took us right through McCloud where we stopped to pick up a deck of cards, final caffeine for the short drive and to fill up on water at the Ranger Station.
Slow going for sure but progress and we were well into the 13s as we ed back up. Sunset from our camp after the unexpected snowstorm rolled in. With the cold, the storm and now fresh snow covering any use trail, we had ditched any plans for an alpine start and instead to wait for the sun to start shining before even getting up.
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One last view of Mount Shasta from the trail though it remained in sight for much of the trail below… only without enough light to get a photo. The snowline was around 11, when we climbed at the start of October. Even as we hiked up in the light rain early on, it seemed to fit in with what we were expecting for the day and as it died down, it felt like we were going to have a great evening at camp. The mountain is located in the Shasta-Trinity forest, the largest national forest in California, and this home to a whole lot of camping options.
Then, as we met up with the proper route, we began the crux of the day: a steep, well exposed slope leading to the rocks just below the summit ridge. Mike threw on his crampons and ascended straight up while I hugged a rocky wall on the side of the face, kicking in until I too had ascended the slightly gentler route. Built up walls, flat surfaces, great views. All packed up and ready to hit the trail! For example, our chosen route hid any view of the creek until our return, an important reality considering that in late season it was the only waterflow I saw on the mountain leaving just snow to melt higher up.
One of the flats on the walk from the summit ridge to the summit rocks. Moving up and up, the storm turned on us dropping light rain and then moderate. As it would turn out, those would stay on for almost the remainder of the trip. Descending down from there was long, tiring and increasingly hot as the stormy weather had become clear, sunny skies in the afternoon though the forecast called for far worse summit temps the next day. In elevation however, the trail up was simply rough from the onset — my legs had not fully recovered from the day before to start with and the trails we found took no pity as they wound up directly.
When the storm broke we were treated to some of the spectacular views of the rock formations Shasta is known for. Descending out of the dense snow it became clear that several other, more gentle trails also made there way up to intersect with the route we had taken and we switched over to what I believe was the Wintun Ridge path as it switched back and forth — more steps but much easier ones down.
The road from McCloud to the trailhead degrades the higher you go as it switches from pavement to maintained dirt to just well used dirt. Just a few minutes walk into the trail and you enter the Mt. Shasta Wilderness and National Forest land.
There are use trails all over the place which downhill revealed far better than up and staying right, right and right again, we were able to follow them back over to the original route we had taken up and to our camp which we packed up and left by 3. The pickets, slings and helmet were however overkill for the fairly simple climbing ahead.
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Of course most of those attempts only around a third summit apparently come in early spring and summer when snow levels are good and weather is fairly stable too. Mike making his way back from the summit rocks after finishing the push to the top. Clear Creek trail starts off as a day hiking and camping trail, well marked and easy to follow passing through continual forest for several miles and about a thousand vertical feet I believe.
Looking up towards the giant boulders that lie just below the summit ridge on the east side of the mountain.
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Turns out Mount Shasta should have been on my list long ago as the largest mountain in the Cascades by volume and home to the largest Glacier in California as well. Shortly after 1pm, we met back up below the summit Mount Shasta, sharing congratulations on our respective accomplishments and planning the all important return. Heading back across the flats and to that point, we decided to cut towards the rock wall and away from the icy snow Mike had encountered on his was up side stepping our way down quickly but carefully.
There are actually two ranger stations around the mountain, the namesake Mount Shasta station in downtown where we first went and a smaller station just past the town of McCloud and on the road towards the Clear Creek trailhead. All you need is a source of water….