I realize that the days and hikes are already beginning to blend into one another. I want to have this post in the archives as a reference on the descriptions of the hikes which have become our favorites, and of the new territories that we explore. That way, I can allow my Hiking Journal to carry my impressions of my surroundings and the inner wisdom that I received on a specific walk.
I can begin with the link to Hike Mt Shasta. This gives beautiful descriptions of the hikes and provides some maps. I have not thoroughly explored that site, but if you go to their home page, you will find Trail lists and you can search for specific trails we mention.
Our hikes at Gateway have grown to about 4 miles or an hour and a half loop. We start at the trailhead; follow the Lollipop Loop up to connect with one of the forest service roads; take the McBride Trail until it meets the main Gateway trail, and then back in. This is a relative tiny amount of the existing trail system there, much of which is designed for mountain bike use.
Our hike from Gateway up to the McBride Camp Ground was a climb from 3,900 – 5,000 feet. Going up the traditional Sisson Trail (newly reopened), our hike climbed through several vegetation regions and past a small spring. It was a moderate hike in terms of the incline, and we have lunch near the top of the nearly 5 mile round trip.
My birthday hike was the most challenging: Bunny Flat to the Old Ski Bowl via Dog Trail. (No link since this is an alternate route.) Dog trail branches off of the trail up Green Butte, as you head south east from Bunny Flat. The Mount Shasta Trail Association has just marked most of it’s 2.5 mile distance with pink plastic flags tied to trees. This hike was so steep that it took me two and half hours to climb it and I knew I didn’t want to go back the way I came. The elevation gain was from 6,950 at Bunny Flat to above the 7,800 feet at the Old Ski Bowl parking area. I continued my walk down into Upper Panther Meadow, and then was grateful for a ride back to Bunny Flat with a Forest Service volunteer.
Horse Camp from Bunny Flat has become a new favorite. This is the trail used by climbers who rest the night in Horse Camp before going to the summit of Mount Shasta. It climbs to the North West out of Bunny Flat and crosses some wonderful alpine meadow areas in the first mile before making the steeper climb up to 7,900 feet. There are stone steps cut into the path in that later .7 mile stretch to ease the climb and the decent. This has been our “getting out of the smoke” hike this summer of 2018. Moving a bit toward the western side of the mountain, the air always is clearer. The natural spring at Horse Camp is still flowing in late August and is clean, fresh and wonderful. The last .5 miles up are wilderness area which day hikers and climbers all respect and honor.
Lake Siskiyou Trail, is a nice, relatively flat walk around the lake and provides a different water and meadow experience. The entire loop is 7 miles, and we completed it for the first time in mid-September.
Castle Lake toward Heart Lake: So far we have not made it to Heart Lake (we took a downward left when we should have taken an upward right along the path). The path up is very steep and rocky – one of those trails that reminds one to focus on the step you are taking. Yet, when we pause, the views are wonderful. The lake was still and clear and gave a perfect reflection of this side of the Crags. It is a path I will enjoy more doing with two poles for balance on the way down.
Panther Meadows: This was where we began our hiking experiences on the Mountain a couple of years ago. Sometimes we take the short hike from the Upper Panther Meadows parking area, and the loop through the meadow. Other times we climb the more rugged tail from Panther Meadows camp area on up and through the upper meadow. This is sacred land and has been the site for many generations of native american healers to gather, seek wisdom for the healing of the people, and gather the healing herbs that grow in this wonderful alpine meadow. (Native American shamans are still allowed to gather plants here, honoring their ancestral rights.)