Sunday, September 19, 2010

Mt. Shasta Area Trip - 9/11/10 Day 2 - Castle Dome Hike , Castle Crags State Park

We woke up and had a slow morning relaxing on the back deck overlooking the Sacramento River. We noticed that our cabin was right next to an overlook with benches looking out over the river with views of Mt. Shasta in the distance.

View of Mt. Shasta from the lookout

At about noon we decided we would go for a hike.
We drove about 10 minutes south to Castle Crags State Park. We paid our $8 day use fee (thanks Schwarzenegger!) and parked at the Vista Point parking lot. From there we started off on the Crag Trail toward Castle Dome. For the first several minutes the trail is completely shaded and flat. We soon came to the junction with Root Creek Trail where we stayed left and started climbing moderately. A little more climbing brought us to the junction with the PCT. Still under the shade of Fir, Pine and Cedar we continued uphill for about another ½ mile before passing a junction with Bobs Hat Trail. A little more uphill and a few switchbacks later the trail offers broken views of the crags.

First broken view of the crags

We then came to the junction with Indian Springs Trail which we would take on our way down. Onward brought us to the beginning of Castle Crags Wilderness.

Castle Crags Wilderness with Castle Dome in the backdrop

Castle Dome and Mt. Shasta

From here the trail emerged out of the forest and into the hot sun. Manzanita was now the main chaparral. The footing became very rocky and much steeper. Countless climbers’ trails spur off in different directions. At times it is tough to follow the main trail. We were thankful the majority of the hike up until this point was in the shade because it was hot out. This is where the hiking starts to get exciting as you enter the crags.

Entering the Crags

From here until trails end the heat would be relentless. We pushed on earning greater views of the crags.

Random crag with evidence of logging in the background

Castle Dome, today's destination, is in clear view.

Castle Dome getting closer

Resting in the Shade for a moment on the way up

A little ways further and shortly before the trail ended we opted to venture off trail and find a patch of shade to rest at.

View from our resting spot

From here we looked out across to Girard Ridge and located Girard Fire Lookout, where we would be spending Tuesday and Wednesday night.

Girard Lookout From a Distance

We were very excited. Unfortunately with the good views come the bad as well; The landscape is scarred badly with patches of logging clear cuts as far as the eye can see. It is a sad sight!!!
Sarah decided to rest as I hiked the few hundred yards to trails end.

Trail end with Castle Dome looming above

From here I scrambled up Castle Dome a ways until it got too dangerous.

View from Castle Dome Cliffside

It’s too bad the trail doesn’t explore the heart of the Crags. Perhaps someday Sarah and I will do some cross country exploration. I rejoined Sarah in the shade and we took in the views. One Crag in particular slightly resembles a crown therefore I've named it "Corona Crag".

"Corona Crag"

With the sun getting lower in the sky we decided to head back.
We took the Indian Springs spur trail which was a mostly flat 5 minute walk to the springs themselves.

Indian Springs Trail

Indian Springs flows year round and is the only water on this hike.

Indian Springs

Insects swarmed the area so we only spent a few moments wetting our faces before moving on.

From there it was back into the shade and downhill, mostly uneventful but enjoyable nonetheless. At the parking lot there is a short path to the “vista point” where there are free telescopes to view the Crags and Mt. Shasta.

Back at the cabin we BBQ’d out front while enjoying the sounds of “Big Brother & the Holding Company” with a Janis Joplin cover.

Barbecuing in front of our cabin

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