A few years ago, I got a bunch of friends together for a monumental birthday and skied the Hotlum Wintun Route on Mt. Shasta for the first time. I fell in love with the perfectly pitched silky smooth corn on a route that has been called possibly the best ski descent in N. America. After skiing, we went swimming in the McCloud River, and with its crystal clear water and numerous waterfalls, it is Shasta’s equally pretty sibling. When I started kayaking last year, I hoped that I’d be good enough one day to plan a trip where we’d ski Shasta and then kayak the McCloud. Technically the McCloud doesn’t start at Shasta, it is a spring fed river, but it seems pretty close to a source to sink trip – I mean snow from Shasta must feed those springs somehow… right?
I assembled a crew, picked a date, and as it neared, the weather was looking great and the road to the Brewer Creek Trailhead was nearly melted out. I just had to get there, which proved to be somewhat more difficult than expected since I was flying back from a visit to the Midwest the Friday before. After numerous delayed flights, missed connections, some standby and luggage success, picking up my dog and gear from Tahoe, I was on my way to Shasta at 11:30 pm Friday night. Needless to say, I didn’t make our planned 3 AM start and we started as the sun was rising at 5:30 AM.
Although I was hallucinating from the lack of sleep, at least we were on snow relatively quickly.
Nature’s stairmaster (photo by Greg Mardsen)
We hiked to just under 13,000 feet and thought the snow was softening quickly in the hot sun. With the late start, we decided to cash in on the corn are we were rewarded with 6,000 feet of skiing (photo by Greg).
Splitboarder Stu (photo by Greg)
Me (photos by Greg)
Done skiing by 1:30, we met up with our friend Tom who was joining us for the McCloud portion of the trip on Sunday, grabbed a camp site, went for a swim, and then set up camp for the night. I was grateful to get some rest before our next adventure.
The McCloud is a class 3/4 run that starts out at low flows and then nearly doubles in flow a mile after the put in due to some springs aptly named “Big Springs.” It is known for crystal clear and cold water, some fun and continuous whitewater sections, and enormous river side castles owned by the Hearst family. It is really unique and did not dissappoint. All of the following photos are by Greg since I lost my Go Pro in the river.
Thanks to all my friends for a great weekend – living the Northern California dream and STILL skiing good snow on July 23rd!