Mt Shasta, Altitude and Ecology
Updated: Apr 13
Mount Shasta has long been revered for her magnificent beauty. She has been called mystical, majestic, magical, sacred, and people come from all over the world to bask in her soaring presence. Climbers, nature lovers, world travelers, spiritual seekers and mystics all come to experience her magnetic energy. She dominates this northernmost area of California at 14,162 ft.
I have never been a serious hiker but I found spending time on Mount Shasta irresistible. Over the years I made at least 5 summit climbs and quite a few non-summit climbs. There really is something about ascending a mountain to gain clarity and calm. All the noise, chatter and worries fall away as each step upward in elevation brings you towards the sky and eventually to the summit.
Climbers and spiritual seekers know and understand the draw of the high altitude environment. It is expansive both outwardly and inwardly. As the body adapts and copes with the oxygen deprivation, the mind becomes reflective and calm. It opens to the possibilities of renewal, healing, and ultimately peace.
Taking a drive up to the Old Ski Bowl is the easiest and quickest way to experience this without even putting on hiking boots. At 7,760 ft. it lifts you above the tree line and from here you can behold the valley below and peaks above.
For millennia, the real Keepers of the mountain have been indigenous peoples. Four tribes - the Achumawi/Atsugewi, Shasta, Modoc, and Wintu - lived on the lands surrounding Mount Shasta, with artifacts found dating back to at least 600 BCE. Wintu tribal legends trace their peoples origin to a sacred spring on the mountain, which they consider holy ground. They honor the sacred powers of the mountain with traditional rituals in yearly ceremonies and continue to this day to work towards conservation and preservation of the land and waters surrounding Mount Shasta.
I, too, feel a commitment to preserving this sacred mountain. While I loved the time I spent hiking on her, there is a whole world of ecology that can be destabilized and destroyed when humans are not aware of their surroundings. Keeping on the trails, for example, is critical to avoid erosion and destruction of native plants, some quite rare. I appreciate the different organizations (USFS, Sierra Club) that strive to keep the mountain safe from the damage caused by too many foot prints. They are also available to educate and protect climbers.
Lastly, I would be remiss if I neglected to mention two unique Mount Shasta anomalies: the Lemurians that live deep in the mountain and the space ships that hide in the lenticular clouds that love to form over her. If I have piqued your curiosity, Google can take you down a deep rabbit hole on this. It is super interesting!
I will be donating 10% of profits on sale of all Shasta Essence fragrances to:
Mount Shasta Bioregional Ecology Center
Panther Meadows, Summer 2020