Unbeknownst to most people, California was the place where glaciers were “discovered” in the United States, atop Mount Shasta. And while the words “California” and “glacier” will never be synonymous, the state still has twenty glaciers (seven located on Mount Shasta, and thirteen are located in the Sierra Nevada). While each of California’s remaining glaciers offer their own individual logistical challenges, the Palisade Glacier is one of the easiest to visit from May to mid-October. In this case, easy is a relative term, as visitors to the Palisade Glacier will have to traverse ten miles of trail to the end of the glacier, and gain 4,000 feet of elevation, before returning back to the trailhead. From mid-October through May, the ascent to the Palisade Glacier becomes substantially more difficult, as it is over snow and ice, and requires proper preparation and navigation. However, for those willing to make the trek, the Palisade Glacier is a spectacular sight to behold; and is a relic from a long lost past that is disappearing in the modern age.
While there are many amazing trails in the Mount Shasta region that lead to a number of super fantastic places, including lakes, summits, trees, animals and more, the absolute best trail in the region leads to a location that is even better than these mundane things. The Bunny Flat Trail to Lemuria is without question, the best trail in the Mount Shasta Region, the best trail in Northern California, and perhaps, the best trail in the world. The reason for this is that while most trails merely take you to a physical location, this trail takes you to a location that is beyond space and beyond time. While it may seem hard to believe, this trail takes you to a metaphysical location that lies somewhere in the imagination and heart of every person, irrespective of whether they know it exists or not – and that location is Lemuria.
I always wonder what to include in these write-ups of trails, climbs, and strange spots. I wonder if I should get into the history of the area, my background, experience, side-stories, or if I should always just be brief and stick to the facts, just the facts, Dragnet style. When the place or area is large, like say, Mount Shasta, I find these decisions even harder. In this case, I’m going to go with the actual relevant information first for climbers, and cover the current conditions on the mountain first. This information is from my Tweetup climb from August 9, 2012 through August 11, 2012 with a couple Twitter members and non-Twitter climber Erik. This was a great group of climbers, and I’d be honored to climb with any of them again. We took the standard Avalanche Gulch route up the mountain, and we managed to get three out of the five of us on the summit, and had no serious problems during the climb in any way, so all in all, it was a successful, safe, and great experience. If you don’t know where or what the Avalanche Gulch route is, don’t worry – I’ll get into particulars of distances and locations on Monday, when I discuss the route in general terms; and if you do know the route, I’ve thrown in conditions as I experienced them at specific spots along the way last week.