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Literature of Mount Shasta

Mount Shasta

Chapter 10 of Picturesque California, 1888

By John Muir

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Title picture from Picturesque California edited by John Muir
Photogravure by E.T. Thompson after painting by Thomas Hill

Mount Shasta rises in solitary grandeur from the edge of a comparatively low and lightly sculptured lava plain near the northern extremity of the Sierra, and maintains a far more impressive and commanding individuality than any other mountain within the limits of California. Go where you may, within a radius of from fifty to a hundred miles or more, there stands before you the colossal cone of Shasta, clad in ice and snow, the one grand, unmistakable landmark - the pole - star of the landscape. Far to the southward Mount Whitney lifts its granite summit four or five hundred feet higher than Shasta, but it is nearly snowless during the late summer, and is so feebly individualized that the traveler may search for it in vain among the many rivaled peaks crowded along the axis to the north and south of it, which all alike are crumbling residual masses brought into relief into the degradation of the general mass of the range. The highest point on Mount Shasta, as determined by the State Geological Survey, is in round numbers 14,400 feet above mean tide[.] That of Whitney, computed from fewer observations, is about 14,900 feet. But inasmuch as the average elevation of the plain out of which Shasta rises is only about 4,000 feet above the sea, while the actual base of the peak of Mount Whitney lies at an elevation of 11,000 feet the individual height of the former is about two and a half times great as that of the latter. Approaching Shasta from the south, one obtains glimpses of its snowy cone here and there through the trees from the tops of hills and ridges; but it is not until Strawberry Valley is reached, where there is a grand out-opening of the forests, that Shasta is seen in all its glory, from base to crown clearly revealed with its wealth of woods and waters and fountain snow, rejoicing in the bright mountain sky, and radiating beauty on all the subject landscape like a sun. Standing in a fringing thicket of purple spiraea in the immediate fore-ground is a smooth expanse of green meadow with its meandering stream, one of the smaller affluents of the Sacramento; then a zone of dark close forest, its countless spires of pine and fir rising above one another on the swelling base of the mountain in glorious array; and over all the great white cone sweeping far into the thin, keen sky - meadow, forest and grand icy summit harmoniously blending and making one sublime picture evenly balanced.

The main lines of the landscape are immensely bold and simple, and so regular that it needs all its shaggy wealth of woods and chaparral and its finely tinted ice and snow and brown jutting crags to keep it from looking conventional. In general views of the mountain three distinct zones may be readily defined. The first, which may be called the Chaparral Zone, extends around the base in a magnificent sweep nearly a hundred miles in length on its lower edge, and with a breadth of about seven miles. It is a dense growth of chaparral from three to six or eight feet high, composed chiefly of manzanita, cherry, chincapin and several species of ceanothus, called deer-brush by the hunters, forming when in full bloom one of the most glorious flower beds conceivable. The continuity of this flowery zone is interrupted here and there, especially on the south side of the mountain, by wide swaths of coniferous trees, chiefly the sugar and yellow pines, Douglass-spruce, silver-fir and incense-cedar, many specimens of which are two hundred feet high and five to seven feet in diameter. Golden-rods, asters, gilias, lilies and lupines, with many other less conspicuous plants, occur in warm sheltered openings in these lower woods, making charming gardens of wilderness where bees and butterflies are at home and many a shy bird and squirrel.

The next higher is the Fir Zone, made up almost exclusively of two species of silver-fir. It is from two to three miles wide, has an average elevation above the sea of some 6,000 feet on its lower edge, 8,000 on its upper, and is most regular and best defined of the three.

The Alpine Zone has a rugged, struggling growth of storm-beaten dwarf pines (P. Albicaulis) which forms the upper edge of the timber line. This species reaches an elevation of about 9,000 feet, but at this height the tops of the trees rise only a few feet into the frosty air, and are closely pressed and shorn by wind and snow; yet they hold on bravely and put forth and abundance of beautiful purple flowers and produce cones and seeds. Down towards the edge of the fir belt they stand erect, forming small, well-formed trunks, and are associated with the taller two-leafed and mountain pines and the beautiful Williamson spruce. Byranthus, a beautiful flowering heath-wort, flourishes a few hundred feet above the timber line, accompanied with Kalmia and spiraea. Lichens enliven the faces of the cliffs with their bright colors, and in some of the warmer nooks of the rocks, up to a height of 11,000 feet, there are a few tufts of dwarf daisies, wallflowers and penstemons; but notwithstanding[,] these bloom freely they make no appreciable show at a distance, and the stretches of rough brown lava beyond the storm-beaten trees seem as bare of vegetation as the great snow fields and glaciers of the summit.

Shasta is a fire-mountain, an old volcano gradually accumulated and built into the blue deep of the sky by successive eruptions of ashes and molten lava which, shot high in the air and falling in darkening showers, and flowing from chasms and craters, grew outward and upward like the trunk of a knotty, bulging tree. Not in one grand convulsion was Shasta given birth, nor in any one special period of volcanic storm and stress, though mountains more than a thousand feet in height have been cast up like mole-hills in a night-- quick contributions to the wealth of the landscapes, and most emphatic statements on the part of Nature of the gigantic character of the power that dwells beneath the dull, dead-looking surface of the earth. But sections cut by the glaciers, displaying some of the internal framework of Shasta, show that comparatively long periods of quiescence intervened between many distinct eruptions, during which the cooling lavas ceased to flow, and took their places as permanent additions to the bulk of the growing mountain. Thus with alternate haste and deliberation eruption succeeded eruption, until Mount Shasta surpassed even its present sublime height.

Summit of Mt. Shasta, and the Glacier from Picturesque California edited by John Muir
Summit of Mt. Shasta, and the Glacier
Painting by Thomas Hill

Then followed a strange contrast. The glacier winter came on. The sky that so often had been darkened with storms of cinders and ashes and lighted by the glare of volcanic fires, was filled with crystal snow-flowers which, loading the cooling mountain, gave birth to glaciers that uniting edge to edge at length formed one grand conical glacier - a down-crawling mantle of ice upon a mountain of smouldering fire, crushing and grinding its brown, flinty lavas, and thus degrading and remodeling the entire mountain from summit to base. How much denudation and degradation has been effected we have no means of determining, the porous crumbling rocks being ill-adapted for the reservation and preservation of glacier inscriptions. The summit is now a mass of ruins, and all the finer striations have been effaced from the flanks by post-glacial weathering, while the irregularity of its lavas as regards susceptibility to erosion, and the disturbance caused by inter and post-glacial eruptions, have obscured or obliterated those heavier characters of the glacier record found so clearly inscribed upon the granite pages of the high Sierra between latitude 36° 30°and 39. This much however is plain, that the summit of the mountain was considerably lowered, and the sides were deeply grooved and fluted while it was a center of dispersal for the glaciers of the circumjacent region. And when at length the glacial period began to draw near its close the ice mantle was gradually melted off around the base of the mountain, and in receding and breaking up into its present fragmentary condition the irregular heaps and rings of moraine matter were stored upon its flanks on which the forest is growing. The glacial erosion of most of the Shasta lavas gives rise to detritus composed of rough sub-angular boulders of moderate size and porous gravel and sand, which yields freely to the transporting power of running water. Several centuries ago immense quantities of this lighter material were washed down from the higher slopes by a flood of extraordinary magnitude, caused probably by the sudden melting of the ice and snow during an eruption, giving rise to the deposition of conspicuous delta-like beds around the base. And it is upon these flood-beds of moraine soil, thus suddenly and simultaneously laid down and joined edge to edge, that the flowery chaparral is growing.

 from Picturesque California edited by John Muir
A Quiet Nook on the Upper Sacramento.

Thus, by forces seemingly antagonistic and destructive Nature accomplishes her beneficent designs-now a flood of fire, now a flood of ice, now a flood of water; and again in its fullness of time an outburst of organic life-forest and garden, with all their wealth of fruit and flowers, the air stirred into one universal hum, with rejoicing insects, a milky-way of wings and petals, girdling the new-born mountain like a cloud, as if the vivifying sunbeams beating against its sides had broken into a foam of plant bloom and bees. But with such grand displays as Nature is making here how grand are her reservations, bestowed only upon those who devotedly seek them. Beneath the smooth and snowy surface the fountain fires are still aglow, to blaze forth afresh at their appointed times. The glaciers, looking so still and small at a distance, represented by the artist with a patch of white paint laid on by a single stroke of his brush, are still flowing onward unhalting, with deep crystal currents, sculpturing the mountain with stern, resistless energy. How many caves and fountains that no eye has yet seen lie with all their fine furniture deep down in the darkness, and how many shy wild creatures are at home beneath the grateful lights and shadows of the woods, rejoicing in their fullness of perfect life. Standing on the edge of the strawberry meadows in the sun-days of summer, not a foot or feather or leaf seems to stir; and the grand, towering mountain with all its inhabitants appear in rest, calm as a star. Yet how profound is the energy ever in action, and how great is the multitude of claws and teeth, wings and eyes, wide-awake and at work and shining, Going into the blessed wilderness, the blood of the plants throbbing beneath the life giving sunshine seems to be heard and felt; plant-growth goes on before our eyes, and every tree and bush and flower is seen as a hive of restless industry. The deeps of the sky are mottled with singing wings of every color and tone,-- clouds of brilliant crysididae dancing and swirling in joyous rythym, golden-barred vespidae, butterflies, grating cicadae and jolly rattling grasshoppers;-- fairly enameling the light, and shaking all the air into music. Happy fellows they are , every one of them, blowing tiny pipie and trumpet, plodding and prancing at work or at play.

Deer Stalking-Mt. Shasta from Picturesque California edited by John Muir
Deer Stalking-Mt. Shasta.
Drawing by V. Perard, '88

Though winter holds the summit, Shasta in summer is mostly a mossy, bossy mound of flowers colored like the alpenglow that flushes the snow. There are miles of wild roses, pink bells of huckleberry and sweet manzanita, every bell a honey-cup plant, plants that tell of the north and of the south; tall nodding lilies, the crimson sarcodes, rhododendron, cassiope and blessed Linnaea; phlox, calycanthus, plum, cherry, crategus, spiraea, mints and clovers in endless variety; ivesia, larkspur and columbine; golden applopappus, linsyris, bahia, wyethia, arnica, brodaea, etc,-- making sheets and beds of light edgings of bloom in lavish abundance for the myriads of the air dependent on their bounty. The common honey-bees gone wild in this sweet wilderness, gather tons of honey into the hollows of the trees and rocks, clambering eagerly through bramble and hucklebloom, shaking the clustered bells of the generous manzanita, now humming aloft among polleny willows and firs, mow down on the ashy ground among small gilias and buttercups, and anon plunging into banks of snowy cherry and buckthorn. They consider the lilies and roll into them, pushing their blunt polleny faces against them like babies on their mother's bosom; and fondly, too, with eternal lone does Mother Nature, clasp her small bee-babies and suckle them, multitudes at once, on her warm Shasta-breast. Besides the common honey-bee there are many others here, fine, burly, mossy fellows, such as were nourished on the mountains many a flowery century before the advent of the domestic species - humble-bees, mason-bees, carpenter-bees and leaf cutters. Butterflies, too, and moths of every size and pattern; some wide-winged like bats, flapping slowly and sailing in easy curves; others like small flying violets shaking about loosely in short zigzag flights close to the flowers, feasting in plenty night and day.

McCloud River-Government Fish-Hatchery from Picturesque California edited by John Muir
McCloud River-Government Fish-Hatchery.

Deer in great abundance come to Shasta from the warmer foot-hills every spring to fee in the rich, cool pastures, and bring forth their young in the ceanothus tangles of the Chaparral zone, retiring again before the snow-storms of winter, mostly to the southward and westward of the mountain. In like manner the wild sheep of the adjacent region seek the lofty inaccessible crags of the summit as the snow melts, and are driven down to the lower spurs and ridges where there is little snow, to the north and east of Shasta. Bears, too roam this food full wilderness, feeding on the grass, clover, berries, nuts, ant-eggs, fish, flesh or fowl, -- whatever comes in their way, with but little troublesome discrimination. Sugar and honey they seem to like best of all, and they seek far to find the sweets: but when hard pushed by hunger they make out to gnaw a living from the bark of trees and rotten logs, and might almost live on clean lava alone. Notwithstanding the California bears have had as yet but little experience with honey-bees, they sometimes succeed in reaching the bountiful stores of these industrious gatherers and enjoy the feast with majestic relish. But most honey-bees in search of a home are wise enough to make choice of a hollow in a living tree far from the ground, whenever such can be found. There they are pretty secure, for though the smaller brown and black bears climb well, they are unable to gnaw their way into strong hives, while compelled to exert themselves to keep from falling and at the same time endure the stings of the bees about the nose and eyes, without having their paws free to brush them off. But woe to the unfortunates who dwell in some prostate trunk, and to the black bumble-bees discovered in their mossy, mouse-like nests in the ground. With powerful teeth and claws these are speedily laid bare, and almost before the time is given for a general buzz the bees, old and young, larvae, honey, stings, nest and all, are devoured in one ravishing revel. The antelope may still be found in considerable numbers to the north-eastward of Shasta, but the elk, once abundant, have almost entirely gone from the region. The smaller animals, such as the wolf, the various foxes, wildcats, coon, squirrels, and the curious wood-rat that builds large brush huts, abound in all the wilder places; and the beaver, otter, mink, etc., may still be found along the sources of the river. The blue grouse and mountain quail are plentiful in the woods and the sage-hen on the plains about the northern base of the mountain, while innumerable smaller birds enliven and sweeten every thicket and grove.

There are at least five classes of human inhabitants about the Shasta region: -- the Indians, now scattered, few in numbers and miserably demoralized though still offering some rare specimens of savage manhood; miners and prospectors, found mostly to the north and west of the mountain, since the region about its base is overflowed with lava; cattle- raisers, mostly on the plains to the north-eastward and around the Klamath lakes; hunters and trappers, where the woods and waters are wildest; and farmers, in Shasta valley on the north side of the mountain, wheat, apples, melons, berries, all the best production of farm and garden growing and ripening there at the foot of the great white cone, which seems at times during changing storms ready to fall upon them-the most sublime farm scenery imaginable.

Shasta from Sisson's and Castle Lake from Picturesque California edited by John Muir
Shasta from Sisson's and Castle Lake

The Indians of the McCloud River that have come under my observation differ considerably in habits and features from the Diggers and other tribes of the foot-hills and plains, and also from the Pah Utes and Modocs. They live chiefly on salmon. They seem to be closely related to the Thlinkits of Alaska, Washington, and Oregon and may readily have found their way here by passing from stream to stream in which salmon abounds. They have much better features than the Indians of the plains, and are rather wide awake, speculative and ambitious in their way, and garrulous, like the natives of the northern coast. Before the Modoc war the lived in dread of the Modocs, a tribe living about the Klamath lake and the Lava Beds who were in the habit of crossing the low Sierra divide past the base of Shasta on free-booting excursions, stealing wives, fish and weapons from the Pitts, and McClouds. Mothers would hush their children by telling them that the Modocs would catch them. During my stay at the Government fish-hatching station on the McCloud I was accompanied in my walks along the river-bank by a McCloud boy about ten years of age, a bright inquisitive fellow, who gave me the Indian names of the birds and plants that we met. The water-ouzel he knew well and seemed to like the sweet singer, which he called "Sussinny." He showed me how strips of the stems of the beautiful maidenhair fern were used to adorn baskets with handsome brown bands, and pointed out several plants good to eat, particularly the large saxifrage growing abundantly along the river margin. Once I rushed suddenly upon him to see if he would be frightened; but he unflinchingly held his ground, struck a grand heroic attitude and shouted, " Me no `fraid; me Modoc!"

Mount Shasta, so far as I have seen, has never the home of Indians, not even their hunting ground to any great extent, above the lower slopes of the base. They are said to be afraid of fire-mountains and geyser-basins as being the dwelling places of dangerously powerful and unmanageable gods. However it is food and their relations to other tribes that mainly control the movement of Indians; and here their food was mostly on the lower slopes, with nothing except the wild sheep to tempt them higher. Even those were brought within reach without excessive climbing during the storms of winter. On the north side of Shasta, near Sheep rock, there is a long cavern sloping to the northward nearly a mile in length, thirty or forty feet wide and fifty feet or more in height, regular

Castle Lake by V. Perard from Picturesque California edited by John Muir
Castle Lake
Painting by V. Perard, '88

in form and direction like a railroad tunnel, and probably formed by the flowing away of a current of lava after the hardening of the surface. At the mouth of this cave where the light and shelter is good I found many of the heads and horns of wild sheep, and the remains of camp-fires, no doubt those of Indian hunters, who in stormy weather had camped there and feasted after the fatigue of the chase. A wild picture that must have formed on a dark night - the glow of the fire, the circle of crouching savages around it seen through the smoke, the dead game, and the weird darkness and half-darkness of the walls of the cavern, a picture of cave-dwellers at home in the stone age. Interest in hunting is almost universal, so deeply is it rooted as an inherited instinct ever ready to rise and make itself known. Fine scenery may not stir a fibre of mind or body, but how quick and how true is the excitement of the pursuit of the game!

Then up flames the slumbering volcano of ancient wildness, all that has been done by church and school through centuries of cultivation is for the moment destroyed, and the decent gentleman or devout saint becomes a howling, blood-thirsty, demented savage. It is not long since we all were cave-men and followed game for food as truly as wildcat or wolf, and the long repression of civilization seems to make the rebound to savage love of blood all the more violent. This frenzy, fortunately, does not last long in its most exaggerated form, and after a season of wildness refined gentlemen from cities are not more cruel than hunters and trappers who kill for a living.

Dwelling apart in the depths of the woods are the various kinds of mountaineers - hunters, prospectors, and the like - rare men, "queer characters," and well worth knowing. Their cabins are located with reference to game and to the ledges to be examined, and are constructed almost as simply as those of the wood-rats made of sticks laid across each other with out compass or square. But they afford good shelter from storms, and so are "square" with Logging in the Mountains from Picturesque California edited by John Muir the need of their builders. These men as a class are singularly fine in manners, though their faces may be scarred and rough like the bark of trees. On entering their cabins you will promptly be placed on your good behavior, and, your wants being perceived with quick insight, complete hospitality will be offered for body and mind to the extent of the larder. These men know the mountains far and near and their thousand voices, like the leaves of a book. They can tell where the deer may be found at any time of year or day, and what they are doing; and so of all the furred and feathered people they meet in their walks; and they can send a thought to its mark as well as a bullet. The aims of such people are not always the highest, yet how brave and how manly and clean are their lives compared with too many in crowded towns mildewed and dwarfed in disease and crime! How fine a chance is here to begin life anew in the free fountains and skylands of Shasta, where it is so easy to live and die! The future of the hunter is likely to be a good one; no abrupt change about it, only a passing from wilderness to wilderness, from one high place to another.

Now that the railroad has been built up the Sacramento, everybody with money may go to Mount Shasta, the weak as well as the strong, fine-grained, succulent people whose legs have never ripened as well as sinewy mountaineers seasoned long in the weather. This, surely, is not the best way of going to the mountains, yet it is better then staying below. Many still small voices will not be heard in the noisy rush and din, suggestive of going to the sky in a chariot of fire or a whirlwind, as one is shot to the Shasta-mark in a booming palace car cartridge; up the rocky ca[n]on, skimming the foaming river, above the level reaches, above the dashing spray - fine exhilarating translation yet pity to go so fast in a blur where so much may be seen and enjoyed.

The mountains are fountains not only of rivers and fertile soils, but of men. Therefore we are all in some sense, mountaineers, and going to the mountains is going home. Yet how many are doomed to toil in town shadows while the white mountains beckon along the horizon! Up the ca{n}on from Shasta should be a care for all care. But many on arrival seem at loss to know what to do with themselves, and seek shelter in the hotel, as if it were the Shasta they had come for. Others never leave the rail content with the window-view, and cling to the comforts of the sleeping-car like blind mice to their mothers. Many are sick and have been dragged to the healing wilderness unwillingly for body-good alone. Were the parts of the human machine detachable like Yankee inventions how strange would be the gatherings on the mountains of pieces of people out of repair! How sadly unlike the whole-hearted ongoing of the seeker after the gold is this partial, compulsory mountaineering; as if the mountain treasures contained nothing better than gold. Up the mountain they go, high-heeled and high-hatted, laden like Christian with mortifications and mortgages of divers sorts and degrees, some suffering from the sting of bad bargains, others exulting in good ones; hunters and fishermen with the gun and rod and leggings; blithe and jolly troubadours to whom all Shasta is romance; poets singing their prayers; the weak and the strong, unable or unwilling to bear mental taxation. But whatever the motive, all will be in some measure benefited. None may wholly be escape the good of nature, however imperfectly exposed to her blessings. The minister will not preach a perfectly flat and sedimentary sermon after climbing a snowy peak; and the fair play and tremendous impartiality of nature, so tellingly displayed, will surely affect the after pleadings of the lawyer. Fresh air at least will get into everybody, and the cares of mere business will be quenched like the fires of a sinking ship.

Possibly a branch railroad may sometime be built to the summit of Mount Shasta like the road on Mount Washington. In the meantime tourists are dropped at Sissons, about the twelve miles from the summit, whence as headquarters they radiate in every direction to the so-called "points of interest;" sauntering about the flowery fringes of Strawberry Meadows, bathing in the balm of the woods, scrambling, fishing, hunting; riding about Castle lake, the McCloud River Soda Springs, Big Spring, deer pastures and elsewhere. Some demand bears, and make excited inquiries concerning their haunts, -- how many there might be altogether on the mountain, and whether they are grizzly, brown, or black. Others shout, "Excelsior," and make off at once for the upper snow-fields. Most, however are content with comparatively level ground and moderate distances, gathering at the hotel evening laden with trophies - great sheaves of flowers, cones of various trees, cedar and fir branches covered with yellow lichens, and possibly a fish or two or quail and grouse. But the heads of deer, antelope, wild sheep, and bears are conspicuously rare or altogether wanting in tourist collections in the "Paradise of hunters." There is a grand comparing of notes and adventures. Most are exhilarated and happy, though complaints may occasionally be heard - "The mountain does not look so very high after all, nor so very white; the snow is in patches like rags spread out to dry," reminding one of Sidney smiths joke against Jeffery, "D - n the Solar System; bad light, planets to indistinct." But far the greater number are in good spirits, showing the influence of holiday enjoyment and mountain air. Fresh roses come to cheeks that have long been pale, and sentiment often begins to blossom under the new inspiration.

The Shasta region may be reserved as a national park, with special reference to the preservation of its fine forests and game. This should by all means be done; but, as far as game is concerned, it is in little danger from tourists, notwithstanding many of them carry guns, and are in some sense hunters. Going in noisy groups, and with guns so shining, they are oftentimes confronted by inquisitive Douglass squirrels, and are thus given the opportunities for shooting; but the larger animals retire at their approach and seldom are seen. Other gun-people, too wise or too lifeless too make much noise, move slowly along the trails and about the open spots of the woods like benumbed beetles in a snow-drift. Such hunters are themselves hunted by the animals, which in perfect safety follow them out of curiosity.

During the bright days of midsummer the ascent of Shasta is only a long, safe saunter, without fright or nerve-strain, or even serious fatigue, to those in sound health. Setting out from Sissons on horseback, accompanied by a guide leading a pack-animal with provisions, blankets, and other necessaries, you follow a trail that leads up to the edge of the timber-line, where you camp for the night, eight or ten miles from the hotel, at an elevation of about 10,000 feet. The next day rising early, you may push on to the summit and return to Sissons. But it is better to spend more time in the enjoyment of the grand scenery on the summit and about the head of the Whitney Glacier, pass the second night in camp, and return to Sissons on the third day. Passing around the margin of the meadows and on through the zones of the forest, you will have good opportunities to get ever-changing views of the mountain and its wealth of creatures that bloom and breathe. The woods differ but little from those that clothe the mountains to the southward, the trees being slightly closer together and generally not quite so large, marking the incipient change from the open forests of the Sierra to the dense damp forests of the northern coast, where a squirrel may travel in the branches of the thick-set trees hundreds of miles without touching the ground.

Around the upper belt of the forest you may see gaps where the ground has been cleared by avalanches of snow, thousands of tons in weight, which descending with grand rush and roar brush the trees from their paths like so many fragile shrubs or grasses.

Head of Iron Canon from Picturesque California edited by John Muir At first the ascent is very gradual. The mountain begins to leave the plain in slopes scarcely perceptible, measuring from two to three degrees. These are continued by easy gradations mile after mile all the way to the truncated, crumbling summit, where they attain a steepness of twenty to twenty-five degrees. The grand simplicity of these lines is partially interrupted on the northern subordinate cone that rises from the main cone about 3,000 feet from the summit. This side cone, past which your way to the summit lies, was active after the breaking up of the main ice-cap of the glacial period, as shown by the comparatively unwasted crater in which it terminates and by streams of fresh-looking unglaciated lava that radiates from it as a centre.

The main summit is about a mile-and-a-half in diameter from southwest to northeast, and is nearly covered in snow and ne've', bound by the crumbling peaks and ridges among which we look in vain for any sure plan of an ancient crater. The extreme summit is situated on the southern end of a narrow edge that bounds the general summit on the east. Viewed from the north it appears as an irregular blunt point about ten feet high, and is fast disappearing before the stormy atmospheric action to which it is subjected. At the base of the eastern ridge, just below the extreme summit, hot sulphurous gases and vapor escape with a hissing, bubbling noise from a fissure in the lava. Some of the many small vents cast up a spray of clear hot water, which falls back repeatedly until wasted in vapor. The steam and spray seem to be produced simply by melting snow coming in the way of escaping gases, while the gases are evidently derived from the heated interior of the mountain, and may be regarded as the last feeble expression of the mighty power that lifted the entire mass of the mountain from the volcanic depths far below the surface of the plain.

The view from the summit in clear weather extends to an immense distance in every direction. South-eastward, the low volcanic portion of the Sierra is seen like a map, both flanks as well as the crater-dotted axis, as far as Lassens Butte, a prominent landmark and an old volcano like Shasta, between ten and eleven thousand feet high and distant about sixty miles. Some of the higher summit peaks near Independence Lake, one hundred and eighty miles away, are at times distinctly visible. Far to the north, in Oregon the snowy volcanic cones of Mounts Pitt, Jefferson, and the Three Sisters, rise in clear relief, like majestic monuments, above the dim dark sea of the northern woods. To the Halting for a View-Shasta by A. Sheller '88 from Picturesque California edited by John Muir north-east lie the Rhett and Klamath lakes, the Lava Beds, and a grand display of hill and mountain and gray rocky plains. The Scott, Siskiyou and Trinity mountains rise in long compact waves to the west and south-west, and the Valley of the Sacramento and the coast mountains, with their marvelous wealth of woods and waters are seen; while close around the base of the mountain lie the beautiful Shasta Valley, Strawberry Valley, Huckleberry Valley, and many others, with the headwaters of the Shasta, Sacramento, and McCloud rivers. Some observers claim to have seen the ocean from the summit of Shasta, but I have not yet been so fortunate.

The cinder cone near Lassens Butte is remarkable as being the scene of the most recent volcanic eruption in the range. It is a symmetrical truncated cone covered with gray cinders and ashes, with a regular crater in which a few pines an inch or two in diameter are growing. It stands between two small lakes which, previous to the last eruption when the cone was built, formed one lake. From near the base of the cone a flood of extremely rough black vesicular lava extends across what was once a portion of the bottom of the lake into the forest of yellow pine. This lava flow seems to have poured out during the same eruption that gave birth

Lassen's Butte from Picturesque California edited by John Muir
Lassen's Butte
Painting by V. Perard, '88

to the cone, cutting the lake in two, flowing a little way into the woods and overwhelming the trees in its way, the ends of some of the charred trunks still being visible projecting from beneath the advanced snout of the flow from where it came to rest; While the floor of the forest for miles around is so thickly strewn with loose cinders that walking is very fatiguing. The Pitt River Indians tell of a fearful time of darkness, probably due to this eruption, when the sky was filled with falling cinders which, as they thought, threatened every living creature with destruction, and when at length the sun appeared through the gloom it was red like blood.

Less recent craters in great numbers dot the adjacent region. Some with lakes in their throats, some overgrown with trees, others nearly bare - telling monuments of Nature's mountain fires so often lighted throughout the northern Sierra. And, standing on the top of icy Shasta, the mightiest fire-monument of them all, we can hardly fail to look forward to the blare and glare of its next eruption and wonder whether it is nigh. Elsewhere men have planted gardens and vineyards in the craters of volcanoes quiescent for ages, and almost without warning have been hurled into the sky. More than a thousand years of profound calm have been known to intervene between two violent eruptions. Seventeen centuries intervened between two consecutive eruptions on the island of Ischia. Few volcanoes, continue permanently in eruption. Like gigantic geysers, spouting hot stone instead of hot water, they work and sleep and we have no sure means of knowing whether they are sleeping or dead.

Toward the end of summer, after a light open winter, one may reach the summit of Mount Shasta without passing over much snow, by keeping on the crest of a long narrow ridge, mostly bare, that extends from near the camp-ground at the timber line. But on my first excursion to the summit the whole mountain down to its low swelling base was smoothly laden with loose fresh snow, presenting a most glorious mass of winter mountain scenery, in the midst of which I scrambled and reveled or lay snugly snow-bound, enjoying the fertile clouds and the snow-bloom in all their growing, drifting grandeur. I had walked from Redding, sauntering leisurely from station to station along the old Oregon stage road, the better to see the rocks and plants, birds and people by the way, tracing the rushing Sacramento to its fountains around icy Shasta. The first rains had fallen on the lowlands, and the first snows on the mountains, and everything was fresh Above Upper Soda Springs from Picturesque California edited by John Muir and bracing, while an abundance of balmy sunshine filled all the noon-day hours. It was the calm afterglow that usually succeeds the first storm of the winter. I met many of the birds that had reared their young and spent their summer in the Shasta woods and chaparral. They were then on their way south to their winter homes, leading their young full-fledged and a about as large and as strong as their parents. Squirrels, dry and elastic after the storms, were busy about their stores of pine nuts, and the latest golden-rods were still in bloom, though it was now past the middle of October. The grand color glow - the autumnal jubilee of ripe leaves - was past prime, but, freshened by the rain, was still making a fine show along the banks of the river, the ravines and the dells of the smaller streams. At the salmon-hatching establishment on the McCloud river I halted a week to examine the lime stone belt, grandly developed there; to learn what I could of the inhabitants of the river and its banks, and to give time for the fresh snow that I knew had fallen on the mountain to settle somewhat, with a view to making the ascent. A pedestrian on these mountain roads, especially so late in the year, is sure to excite curiosity, and many were the interrogations concerning my ramble. When I said that I was simply taking a walk and that icy Shasta was my mark, I was invariably admonished that I had come on a dangerous quest. The time was far too late, the snow was too loose and deep to climb, and I would be lost in drifts and slides. When I hinted that new snow was beautiful and storms not so bad as they were called, my advisers shook their heads in token of superior knowledge and declared the ascent of "Shasta Butte" through loose snow impossible. Nevertheless, before noon of the second of November I was in the frosty azure of the utmost summit.

When I arrived at Sissons everything was quiet; the last of the summer visitors had flitted long before, and the deer and bears also were beginning to seek their winter homes. My barometer and the sighing winds and filmy half-transparent clouds that dimmed the sunshine gave notice of the approach of another storm, and I was in haste to be off and get myself established somewhere in the midst Sheep Rocks, North of Mt. Shasta from Picturesque California edited by John Muir of it, whether the summit was to be attained or not. Sisson, who is a mountaineer, speedily fitted me out for the storm or calm as only a mountaineer could, with warm blankets and a week's provisions so generous in quantity and kind that they easily might have been made to last a month in case of my being closely snow-bound. Well I know the weariness of snow-climbing and the frosts, and the dangers of mountaineering so late in the year; therefore I could not ask a guide to go with me, even though one had been willing. All I wanted was blankets and provisions deposited as far up in the timber as the snow would permit a pack-animal to go. There I could build a storm nest and lie warm, and make raids up and around the mountain in accordance with the weather.

Setting out on the afternoon of November first with Jerome Fay, mountaineer and guide, in charge of the animals, I was soon plodding wearily upward through the muffled winter woods, the snow of course growing steadily deeper and looser, and we had to break the trail. The animals began to get discouraged, and after night and darkness came on they became entangled in a bed of rough lava, where, breaking through four or five feet of mealy snow, their feet were caught between angular boulders. Here they were in danger of being lost, but after we had removed packs and saddles and assisted their efforts with ropes, they all escaped to the side of a ridge about a thousand feet below the timber-line. To go farther was out of the question, so we were compelled to camp as best as we could. A pitch-pine fire speedily changed the temperature and shed a blaze of light on the wild lava-slope and the straggling storm-bent pines around us. Melted snow answered for coffee, and we had plenty of venison to roast. Toward midnight I rolled myself in my blankets, slept an hour and a half, arose and ate more venison, tied two days' provisions to my belt and set out for the summit, hoping to reach it ere the coming storm should fall. Jerome accompanied me a little distance above camp and indicated the way as well as he could in the darkness. He seemed loath to leave me, but being re-assured that I was at home and required no care, he bade me good-bye and returned to camp, ready to lead his animals camp down the mountain at daybreak.

After I was above the dwarf pines, it was fine practice pushing up the broad unbroken slopes of snow, alone in the solemn silence of the night. Half the sky was clouded; in the other half the stars sparkled icily in the keen frosty air; while everywhere the glorious wealth of snow fell away from the summit of the cone in flowing folds, more extensive and continuous than any I had ever seen before. When day dawned the clouds were crawling slowly and becoming more massive, but gave no intimation of immediate danger, and I pushed a faithfully, though holding myself well in hand, ready to return to the timber; for it was 'The circle of crouching savages around the fire' from Picturesque California edited by John Muir easy to see that a storm was not far off. The mountain rises 10,000 feet above the general level of the country, in blank exposure to the deep upper currents of the sky, and no labyrinth peeks and canons I had ever been in seemed so dangerous as these immense slopes, bare against the sky. The frost was intense, and drifting snow-dust made breathing at times rather difficult. The snow was as dry as meal and the finer particles drifted freely, rising high in the air, while the larger portions of the crystals rolled like sand. I frequently sank to my armpits between buried blocks of loose lava, but generally only to my knees. When tired with walking I still wallowed slowly upward on all floors. The steepness of the slope-thirty-five degrees in some places-made any kind of progress fatiguing, while small avalanches were being constantly set in motion in the steepest places. But the bracing air and the sublime beauty of the snowy expanse thrilled every nerve and made absolute exhaustion impossible. I seemed to be walking and wallowing in a cloud; but, holding steadily onward, by half-past ten o'clock I had gained the highest summit.

I held my commanding foothold in the sky for two hours, gazing on the glorious landscapes spread map-like around the immense horizon, and tracing the outline of the ancient lava streams extending far into the surrounding plains, and the pathways of vanished glaciers of which Shasta had been the center. But, as I had left my coat in camp for the sake of having my limbs free in climbing, I soon was cold. The wind increased in violence, raising the snow in magnificent drifts that were drawn out in the form of wavering banners glowing in the sun. Toward the end of my stay a succession of small clouds struck against the summit rocks like drifting icebergs, darkening the air as they passed, and producing a chill as definite and sudden as if ice-water had been dashed in my face. This is the kind of cloud in which snow-flowers grow, and I turned and fled.

Shasta, from Edgewood from Picturesque California edited by John Muir Finding that I was not closely pursued, I ventured to take time on the way down for a visit to the head of the Whitney Glacier and the "Crater Butte." After reaching the end of the main summit ridge the descent was but little more than one continuous, soft mealy, muffled slide, most luxurious and rapid, though the hissing, swishing speed attained was obscured in great part by flying snow-dust-a marked contrast to the boring, seal-wallowing upward struggle. I reached camp about an hour before dark, hollowed a strip of loose ground in the lee of a large block of red lava where fire-wood was abundant, rolled myself in my blankets, and went to sleep.

Next morning, having slept little the night before the absent and being weary with climbing after the excitement was over, I slept late. Then, awakening suddenly, my eyes opened on one of the most beautiful and sublime scenes I ever enjoyed. A boundless wilderness of storm-clouds of different degrees of ripeness were congregated over all the lower landscape for thousands of square miles, colored gray, and purple, and pearl, and deep-glowing white, amid which I seemed to be floating; while the great white cone of the mountain above was all aglow in the free, blazing sunshine. It seemed not so much an ocean as a land of clouds, --undulating hill and dale, smooth purple plains, and silvery mountains of cumuli, range over range, diversified with peak and dome and hollow fully brought out in light and shade. I gazed enchanted, but cold gray masses, drifting like dust on a wind-swept plain, began to shut out the light, forerunners of the coming storm I had been anxiously watching. I made haste to gather as much as possible, snuggling it as a shelter around my bed. The storm-side of my blankets was fastened down with stakes to reduce as much as possible the sifting in of drift and the danger of being blown away. The precious bread-sack was placed safely as a pillow, and when at length the first flakes fell I was exultingly ready to welcome them. Most of my firewood was more than half rosin and would blaze in the face of the fiercest drifting; the winds could not demolish my bed, and my bread could be made to last indefinitely; while in case of need I had the means of making snowshoes and could retreat or hold my ground as I pleased.

Presently the storm broke forth into full snowy bloom, and the thronging crystals darkened the air. The wind swept past in hissing floods, grinding the snow into meal and sweeping down into the hollows in enormous drifts all the heavier particles, while the finer dust was sifted through the sky, increasing the icy gloom. But my fire glowed bravely as if in glad defiance of the drift to quench it, and notwithstanding but little trace of my nest could be seen after the snow had leveled and buried it, I was snug and warm, and passionate uproar produced a

Mt. Shasta from McCloud River by Thomas Hill from Picturesque California edited by John Muir
Mt. Shasta, from McCloud River
Painting by Thomas Hill

glad excitement. Day after day the storm continued, piling snow on snow in weariless abundance. There were short periods of quiet, when the sun would seem to look eagerly down through rents in a cloud, as if to know how the work was advancing. During these calm intervals I replenished my fire-sometimes without leaving the nest, for fire and woodpiles were so near this could easily be done-or busied myself with my notebook, watching the gestures of the trees in taking the snow, examining separate crystals under a lens, and learning the methods of their deposition as an enduring fountain for the streams. Several times when the storm ceased for a few minutes, a Douglass squirrel came frisking from the foot of a clump of dwarf pines, moving in sudden interrupted spurts over the bossy snow; then without any apparent guidance he would dig rapidly into the drift where were buried some grains of barely that the horses had left. The Douglass does not strictly belong to these upper woods, and I was surprised to see him out in such weather. The mountain sheep also, quite a large flock of them, came to my camp and took shelter beside a clump of matted dwarf pines a little above my nest.

The storm lasted about a week, but before it was ended Sisson became alarmed and sent up the guide with animals to see what had become of me and recover the camp out-fit. The news spread that "there was a man on the mountain," and he must surely have perished, and Sisson was blamed for allowing any one to attempt climbing in such weather; while I was as safe as anybody in the lowlands, lying like a squirrel in a warm, fluffy nest, busied about my own affairs and wishing only to be let alone. Later, however, a trail could not have been broken for a horse, and some of the camp furniture would have had to be abandoned. On the fifth day I returned to Sisson's, and from that comfortable base made excursions, as the weather permitted,--to the Black Butte, to the foot of the Whitney Glacier, around the base of the mountain, to Rhett and Klamath lakes, to the Modoc region and elsewhere,--developing many interesting scenes and experiences. But the next Spring, on the other side of the eventful winter, I saw and felt still more of the Shasta snow. For than it was my fortune to get into the very heart of a storm, and to be held in it for a very long time.

Castle Rocks, East of Lower Soda Springs from Picturesque California edited by John Muir On the 28th of April I led a party up the mountain for the purpose of making a survey of the summit with references to the location of the geodetic monument. On the 30th, accompanied by Jerome Fay, I made another absent to make some barometrical observations, the day intervening between the two absents being devoted to establishing a camp on the extreme edge of the timber-line. Here on our red trachyte bed we obtained two hours of shallow sleep broken for occasional glimpses of the keen starry night. At two o'clock we rose, breakfasted on a warm tin-cupful of coffee and a piece of frozen venison broiled on the coals, and started for the summit. Up to this time there was nothing in sight that betokened the approach of a storm; but on gaining the summit, we saw toward Lassens Butte, hundreds of square miles of white cumuli boiling dreamily in the sunshine far beneath us, and causing no alarm.

The slight weariness of the ascent was soon rested away, and our glorious morning in the sky promised nothing but enjoyment. At nine A. M. the dry thermometer stood at 34° in the shade and rose steadily until at one P. M. it stood at 50°, probably influenced somewhat by radiation from the sun-warmed cliffs. A common bumble-bee, not at all benumbed, zigzagged vigorously about our heads for a few moments, as if unconscious of the fact that the nearest honey flower was a mile beneath him. In the meantime clouds were growing down in Shasta Valley, -- massive swelling cumuli, displaying delicious tones of purple and gray in the hollows of their sun-beaten bosses. Extending gradually southward around on both sides of Shasta, these at length united with the older field towards Lassens Butte, thus encircling Mt. Shasta in one continuous cloud-zone. Rhett and Klamath Lakes were eclipsed beneath clouds scarcely less brilliant than their own silvery disks. The Modoc Lava Beds, many a snow-laden peak far north in Oregon, the Scott and Trinity and Siskiyou mountains, the peaks of the Sierra, the blue Coast Range, Shasta Valley, the dark forests filling the Valley of the Sacramento, all in turn were obscured or buried, leaving the lofty cone on which we stood solitary in the sunshine between two skies-a sky of spotless blue above, a sky of glittering cloud beneath. The creative sun shone glorious on the vast expanse of cloud-land; hill and dale, mountain and valley springing into existence responsive to his rays and steadily developing in beauty and individuality. One huge mountain-cone of cloud, corresponding to Mt. Shasta in these new-born cloud ranges, rose close alongside with a visible motion, its firm, polished bosses seeming so near and substantial that we almost fancied we might leap down upon them from where we stood and make our way to the lowlands. No hint was given by anything in their appearance of the fleeting character of these most sublime and beautiful cloud-mountains. On the contrary they impressed one as being lasting additions to the landscape.

The weather if the springtime and summer throughout the Sierra in general is usually varied by slight local rains and dustings of snow, most of which are obviously far too joyous and life-giving to be regarded as storms-single clouds growing in the sunny sky, ripening in an hour, showering the heated landscape and passing away like a thought, leaving no visible bodily remains to stain the sky. Snow storms of the same gentle kind abound among the high peaks, but in spring they not unfrequently attain larger proportions, assuming a violence and energy of expression scarcely surpassing by those bred in the depth of winter. Such was the storm now gathering about us. It began to declare itself shortly after noon, suggesting to us the idea of at once seeking our safe camp in the timber and abandoning the purpose of making an observation of the barometer at three P. M., -- two having already been made, at nine A. M., and twelve M.; while simultaneous observations were made at Strawberry Valley. Jerome peered at short intervals over the ridge, contemplating the rising clouds with anxious gestures in the rough wind, and at length declared that if we did not make a speedy escape we would be compelled to pass the rest of the day and night on the summit. But anxiety to complete my observations stifled my own instinctive promptings to retreat, and held me to my work. No inexperienced person was depending on me, and I told Jerome that we two mountaineers would be able to make our way down through any storm likely to fall.

Presently thin, fibrously films of could began to blow directly over the summit from north to south, drawn out in long fairy webs like carded wool, forming and dissolving as of by magic. The wind twisted them into ringlets and whirled them in a secession of graceful convolutions like the outside sprays of Yosemite Falls in flood-time; then, sailing out into the thin azure over the precipitous brink of the ridge they were drifted together like wreaths of foam on a river. These higher and finer cloud fabrics were evidently produced by the chilling of the air from its own expansion caused by the upward deflection of the wind against the slopes of the mountain. They steadily increased on the north rim of the cone, forming at length a thick, opaque, ill-defined embankment from the icy meshes of which snow-flowers began to fall, alternative with hail. The sky speedily darkened, and just as I had completed my last observation and boxed my instruments ready for the descent, the storm began in serious earnest. At first the cliffs were beaten with hail every stone of which, as far as I could see, was regular in form, six-sided pyramids with rounded base, rich and sumptuous looking, and fashioned with loving care, yet seemingly thrown away on those desolate crags down which they went rolling, falling, sliding in a net-work of curious streams.

The Oregon Stage, Leaving Coles by V. Perard '88 from Picturesque California edited by John Muir
The Oregon Stage, Leaving Coles
Painting by V. Perard '88

After we had forced our way down the ridge and past the group of hissing fumaroles, the storm became inconceivably violent. The thermometer fell 22° in a few minutes, and soon dropped below zero. The hail gave place to snow, and darkness came on like night. The wind, rising to the highest pitch of violence, boomed and surged amid the desolate crags; lightning-flashes in quick succession cut the gloomy darkness; and the thunders, the most tremendously loud and appalling I ever heard, made an almost continuously roar, stroke following stroke in quick, passionate succession, as through the mountain were being rent to its foundations and the fires of the old volcano were breaking forth again. Could we at once have begun to descend the snow-slopes leading to the timber, we might have made good our escape, however dark and wild the storm. As it was, we had first to make our way along a dangerous ridge nearly a mile and a half long, flanked in many places by step ice-slopes at the head of the Whitney Glacier on one side and by shattered precipices on the other. Apprehensive of this coming darkness, I had taken the precaution when the storm began to make the most dangerous points clear to my mind, and the bewildering drift, I felt confident that we could force our way through it with no other guidance. After passing the "Hot Springs" I halted in the lee of a lava block to let Jerome, who had fallen a little behind, come up. Here he opened a council in which, under circumstances sufficiently exciting but without evincing any bewilderment he maintained, in opposition to my views, that it was impossible to proceed. He firmly refused to make the venture to find the camp, while I, aware of the dangers that would necessarily attend our efforts, and conscious of being the cause of his present peril, decided not to leave him.

Our discussions ended, Jerome made a dash for the shelter of the lava block and began forcing his way back against the wind to the "Hot Spring," wavering and struggling to resist being carried away, as if he were fording a rapid stream. After waiting and watching in vain for some flaw in the storm that might be urged as a new argument in favor of attempting the descent, I was compelled to fallow. "Here," said Jerome, as we shivered in the midst of the hissing, sputtering fumaroles, "we shall be safe from frost." "Yes," said I, "we can lie in this mud and steam and sludge, warm at least on one side; but how can we protect our lungs from the acid gases, and how, after our clothing is saturated, shall we be able to reach camp without freezing, even after the storm is over? We shall have to wait for sunshine, and when will it come?

The tempered area to which we had committed ourselves extended over about one-fourth of an acre; but it was only about an eight of an inch in thickness, for the scalding gas-jets were shorn off close to the ground by the over-sweeping flood of frosty wind. And how lavishly the snow fell only mountaineers may know. The crisp crystal flowers seemed to touch one another and fairly to thicken the tremendous blast that carried them. This was the bloom-time, the summer of the cloud, and never before have I seen even a mountain cloud flowering so profusely. When the bloom of the Shasta chaparral is failing the ground is sometimes covered for hundreds of square miles to a depth of half an inch. But the bloom of this fertile snow-cloud grew and matured and fell to a depth of two feet in a few hours. Some crystals landed with their rays almost perfect, but most of them were worn and broken by striking against one another, or by rolling on the ground. The touch of these snow-flowers in calm weather is infinitely gentle--glinting, swaying, settling silently in the dry mountain air, or massed in flakes soft and downy. To lie out alone in the mountains of a still night and be touched by the first of these small silent messengers from the sky is a memorable experience, and the fineness of that touch none will forget. But the storm-blast laden with crisp sharp snow seems to crush and bruise and stupefy with its multitude of stings, and compels the bravest to turn and flee.

The snow fell without abatement until an hour or two after what seemed to be the natural darkness of the nigh. Up to the time the storm first broke on the summit its development was remarkably gentle. There was a deliberate growth of clouds, a weaving of translucent tissue above, then the roar of the wind and the thunder, and the darkening flight of snow. Its subsidence was not less sudden. The clouds broke and vanished, not a crystal was left in the sky, and the stars shone out with pure tranquil radiance.

During the storm we lay on our backs so as to present as little surface as possible to the wind, and to let the drift pas over us. The mealy snow sifted into the folds of our clothing and in many places reached to skin. We were glad at first to see the snow packing about us, hoping it would deaden the force of the wind; but it soon froze into a stiff, crusty heap as the temperatures fell, rather augmenting our novel misery.

When the heat became unendurable, on some spot where steam was escaping through the sludge, we tried to stop it with snow and mud, or shifted a little at a time by shoving with our heels; for to stand in blank exposure to the fearful wind in our frozen-and-broiled condition seemed certain death. The acrid incrustations sublimed from the escaping gases frequently gave way, opening new vents to scald us; and fearing that if at any time the wind should fall, carbonic acid, which often formed a considerable portion of the gaseous exhalations of volcanoes,

A Storm on Shasta from Picturesque California edited by John Muir
A Storm on Shasta

might collect in sufficient quantities to cause sleep and death, I warned Jerome against forgetting himself for a single moment, even should his sufferings admit of such a thing. Accordingly, when during the long dreary watches of the night we roused suddenly from a state of half consciousness we called each other by name in a frightened, startled way, each fearing the other might be benumbed or dead. The ordinary sensations of cold give but a faint conception of that which comes on after a hard climbing with want of food and sleep in such exposure as this. Life is then seen to be a fire, that now smoulders, now brightens and may easily be quenched. The weary hours wore away like dim half-forgotten years, so long and eventful they seemed, though we did nothing but suffer. Still the pain was not always that of that bitter, intense kind that precludes thought and takes away all capacity for enjoyment. A sort of dreamy stupor came on at times in which we fancied we saw dry, resinous logs suitable for camp-fires, just as after going days without food men fancy they see bread.

Frozen blistered, famished, benumbed, our bodies seemed lost to us at times - all dead but the eyes. For the duller and fainter we became clear was our vision, though only in momentary glimpses. Then, after the sky cleared, we gazed at the stars, blessed immortals of light, shining with marvelous brightness with long lance rays, near-looking and new-looking, as if never seen before. Again they would look familiar and remind us of star-gazing at home. Oftentimes imagination coming into play would present charming pictures of the warm zone below, mingled with others near and far. Then the bitter wind and the drift would break the blissful vision and dreary pains cover us like the clouds. "Are you suffering much?" Jerome would inquire with pitiful faintness. "yes," I would say, striving to keep my voice brave, "frozen and burned; but never mind, Jerome the night will wear away at last, and to-morrow we go a -Maying, and what campfires we will make, and what sunbaths we will take!"

Muir's Peak, Looking north from Sisson's Lake by C. Woodley from Picturesque California edited by John Muir The frost grew more and more intense and we became icy and covered over with a crust of frozen snow, as if we had lain cast away in the drift of all winter. In about thirteen hours -- every hour like a year - day began to dawn, but it was long ere the summit's rocks were touched by the sun. No clouds were visible from where we lay, yet the morning was dull and blue, and bitterly frosty; and hour after hour passed by while we eagerly watched the pale light stealing down the ridge to the hollow where we lay. But there was not a trace of that warm flushing sunrise-splendor we had so long hoped for. As the time drew near to make an effort to reach camp we became concerned to know what strength was left us, and whether or no we could walk; for we had lain flat all this time without once rising to our feet. Mountaineers, however, always find in themselves a reserve of power after great exhaustion. It is a kind of second life, available only in emergencies like this; and having proved its existence I had no great fear that either of us would fail, though one of my arms was already benumbed and hung powerless.

At length, after the temperature east somewhat mitigated on this memorable first of May, we arose and began to struggle homeward. Our frozen trousers could scarcely be made to bend at the knee and we waded the snow with difficulty. The summit ridge was fortunately wind-swept and nearly bare, so we were not compelled to lift our feet, and on reaching the long home-slopes laden with loose snow we made rapid progress, sliding and shuffling and pitching headlong, our feebleness acceleration rather than diminishing our speed. When we had descended some three thousand feet the sunshine warmed our backs and we began to revive. At ten o'clock A. M. we reached the timber and were safe. Half an hour later we heard Sisson shouting down among the firs, coming with horses to take us to the hotel. After breaking a trail through the snow as far as possible he had tied his animals and walked up. We had been so long without food that we cared but little about eating, but we eagerly drank the coffee he prepared for us. Our feet were frozen, and thawing then was painful, and had to be done very slowly by keeping them buried in soft snow for several hours, which avoided permanent damage. Five thousand feet below the summit we found only three inches of new snow, and at the base of the mountain only a slight shower of rain had fallen, showing how local our storm had been notwithstanding its terrific fury. Our feet were wrapped in sacking, and we were soon mounted and on our way down into the thick sunshine-"God's Country," as Sisson calls the Chaparral Zone. In two hours' ride the last snow-banked was left behind. Violets appeared along the edges of the trail, and the chaparral was coming into bloom, with young lilies and larkspurs about the open places in rich profusion. How beautiful seemed the golden sunbeams streaming through the woods between the warm brown boles of the cedars and pines! All my friends among the birds and plants seemed like old friends, and we felt like speaking to every one of them as we passed, as if we had been a long time away in some far strange country.

Pit River Canon from Picturesque California edited by John Muir In the afternoon we reached Strawberry Valley and fell asleep. Next morning we seemed to have risen from the dead. My bedroom was flooded with sunshine, and from the window I was the great white Shasta-cone clad in forests and clouds and bearing them loftily in the sky. Every-thing seemed full and radiant with the freshness and beauty and enthusiasm of youth. Sisson's children came in with flowers and covered my bed, and the storm on the mountain top vanished like a dream.

Arctic beauty and desolation, with their blessings and dangers, all may be found here, to test the endurance and skill of adventurous climbers; but far better than climbing the mountain is going around its warm fertile base, enjoying its bounties like a bee circling around a bank of flowers. The distance is about a hundred miles, and will take some of the time we hear so much about-a week or two-but the benefits will compensate for any number of weeks. Perhaps the profession of doing good may be full, but everybody should be kind at least to himself. Take a course of good water and air, and in the eternal youth of Nature you may renew your own. Go quietly, alone; no harm will befall you. Some have strange, morbid fears as soon as they find themselves with Nature even in the kindest and wildest of her solitudes, like very sick children afraid of their mother-as if God were dead and the devil were King.

One may make the trip on horseback, or in a carriage, even; for a good level road may be found all the way round, by Shasta Valley, Sheep Rock, Elk Flat, Huckleberry Valley, Squaw Valley, following for a considerable portion of the way the old Emigrant Road, which lies along the east disk of the mountain, and is deeply worn by the wagons of the early gold-seekers, many of whom chose this northern route as perhaps being safer and easier, the pass here being only about six thousand feet above sea-level. But it is far better to go afoot. Then you are free to make wide waverings and zigzags away from the roads to visit the great fountain streams of the rivers, the glaciers also, and the wildest retreats in the primeval forests where the best plants and animals dwell, and where many a flower-bell will ring against your knees and friendly trees will reach out their fronded branches and touch you as you pass. One blanket will be enough to carry, or you may forego the pleasure and burden altogether, as wood for fires is everywhere abundant. Only a little food will be required. Berries and plums abound in season, and quail and grouse and deer-the magnificent shaggy mule-deer as well as the common species.

As you sweep around so grand a centre the mountain itself seems to turn, displaying its riches like the revolving pyramids in jewelers' windows. One glacier after another comes into view, and the outlines of the mountain are ever changing, through all the way around, from whatever point of view, the form is maintained of a grand, simple cone with a gently sloping base and rugged, crumbling ridges separating the glaciers and the snow-fields and the ice and lava until the forests are aglow. Is a never-ending delight, the rosy lava and the fine flushings of the snow being ineffably lovely. Thus one saunters on and on in the glorious radiance in utter peace and forgetfulness of time. Yet, strange to say, there are days even here somewhat dull looking, when the mountain seems uncommunicative, sending out no appreciable invitation, as if not at home. At such times its height seems much less, as if crouching and weary it were taking rest. But Shasta is always at home to those who love her, and is ever in a thrill of enthusiastic activity-burning fires within, grinding glaciers without and fountains ever-flowing. Every crystal dances responsive to the touches of the sun, and currents of sap in the growing cells of all the vegetation are ever in a vital whirl and rush, and though many feet and wings are folded how many astir! And the wandering winds, how busy they are, and what a breadth of sound and motion they make, glinting and bubbling about the crags of the summit, sifting through the woods, feeling their way from grove to grove, ruffling the loose hair on the shoulders of the bears, fanning and rocking young birds in their cradles, making a trumpet of every corolla, and carrying their fragrance around the world.

In unsettled weather, when storms are growing, the mountain looms immensely higher, and its miles of height become apparent to all, especially in the gloom of the gathering of clouds, or when the storm is done and they are rolling away, torn on the edges and melting while in the sunshine. Slight rainstorms are likely to be encountered in a trip round the mountain, but one may easily find shelter beneath well thatched trees that shed the rain like a roof. Then the shining of the wet leaves is delightful, and the steamy fragrance, and the burst of bird-song from a multitude of thrushes and finches and warblers that have nests in the chaparral.

The nights too are delightful, watching with Shasta beneath the great starry dome. A thousand voices are heard, but so finely blended they seem to be a part of the night itself, and make a deeper silence. And how grandly do the great logs and branches of your camp-fire give forth the heat and the light that long during their century-lives they have so slowly gathered from the sun, storing it away in beautiful dotted cells and beads of amber gum! The neighboring trees look into the charmed circle as if the noon of the another day had come, familiar flowers and grasses that chance to be near seem far more impressive than by day, as the dead trees give forth their light all the other riches of their lives seem to be set free and with the rejoicing flames rise again to the sky. In setting out from Strawberry Valley, by bearing off to the north westward a few miles you may

See beneath green aisles in odorous woods
The slight Linnaea hang in its twin -born heads,
And bless the memory of the man of flowers,
Which breathes sweet fragrance through the northern bowers.

This is one of the few places in California where the charming Linnaea is found, though it is common to the northward through Oregon and Washington. Here to you may find the curious but unlovable Darlingtonia, a carnivorous plant that devours bumble-bees, grasshoppers, ants moths, and other insects, with insatiable appetite. In approaching it, its suspicious looking yellow-spotted hood and watchful attitude will be likely to make you go cautiously through the bog where it stands, as if you were approaching a dangerous snake. It also occurs in a bog near Sothern's Station on the stage road where I first saw it and in other similar bogs throughout the mountains.

The "Big Spring" of the Sacramento is about a mile and a half above Sisson's issuing from the base of a drift-covered hill. It is lined with emerald algae and mosses, and shaded with alder, or drought, heat or cold, fall at once into white rapids with a rush and dash, as if glad to escape from the darkness to begin its wild course down the can`on to the plain.

Muir's Peak, a few miles to the north of the spring, rises about three thousand feet above the plain on which it stands, and is easily climbed. The view is very fine and well repays the slight walk to its summit, from which much of your way about the mountain may be studied and chosen. The view obtained of the Whitney Glacier should tempt you to visit it, since it is the largest of the Shasta glaciers and its lower portion abounds in beautiful and interesting cascades and crevasses. It is three or four miles long and terminates at an

Mt. Shasta and Castle Lake by Thomas Hill from Picturesque California edited by John Muir
Mt. Shasta and Castle Lake
Painting by Thomas Hill

elevation of about 9,500 feet above sea-level, in moraine-sprinkled ice-cliffs sixty feet high. The long gray slopes leading up to the glacier seem remarkably smooth and unbroken. They are much interrupted, nevertheless, with abrupt, jagged, precipitous gorgeous, which, through offering instructive sections of the lavas for examination, would better be shunned by most people. This may be done by keeping well down on the base until fronting the glacier before beginning the ascent.

The gorge through which the glacier is drained is raw-looking, deep and narrow, and indescribably jagged. The walls in many places overhang; in others they are beveled, loose and shifting where the channel has been eroded by cinders, ashes, strata of firm lavas, and glacial drift, telling of many a change from frost to fire and their attendant flood of mud and water; then there are several fine falls In the gorge, 600 feet or more in height. Snow lies in it the year round at an elevation of 8500 feet, and in sheltered spots a thousand feet lower. Tracing this wild changing channel-gorge, gully or can`on, the sections will show Mount Shasta as a huge palimpsest, containing the records, layer upon layer, of strangely contrasted events in its fiery-icy history. But look well to your footing, for the way will test the skill of the most cautious mountaineers.

Shasta, from near Sisson's from Picturesque California edited by John Muir
Shasta, from near Sisson's

Regaining the low ground at the base of the mountain and holding on in your grand orbit, you pass through a belt of juniper woods, called "The Cedars," to Sheep Rock at the foot of the Shasta Pass. Here you strike the old emigrant road, which leads over the low divide to the eastern slopes of the mountain. In a north-northwesterly direction from the foot of the pass you may chance to find Pluto's Cave, already mentioned; but it is not easily found, since its several mouths are on a level with the general surface of the ground and have been made simply by the falling in of portions of the roof. Far the most beautiful and richly furnished of the mountain caves of California occur in a thick belt of metamorphic limestone that is pretty generally developed along the western flank of the Sierra from the McCloud river to the Kaweah, a distance of nearly 400 miles. These volcanic caves are not wanting in interest, and it is well to light a pitch-pine torch and take a walk in these dark ways of the under-world whenever opportunity offers, if for no other reason to see with appreciation on returning to the sunshine the beauties that lie so thick about us.

Sheep Rock is about twenty miles from Sisson's, and is one of the principal winter pasture grounds of the wild sheep, from which it takes its name. It is a mass of lava presenting to the gray-sage plain of Shasta Valley a bold craggy front 2,000 feet high. Its summit lies at an elevation of 5,500 feet above the sea, and has several square miles of comparatively level surface, where bunch-grass grows and the snow does not lie deep, thus allowing the hardy sheep to pick up a living through the winter months when deep snows have driven them down from the lofty ridges of Shasta.

From here it might be well to leave the immediate base of the mountain for a few days and visit the Lava Beds made famous by the Modoc war. They lie about forty miles to the northeastward, on the south shore of Rhett or Tule Lake, At an elevation above sea-level of about 4,500 feet. They are a portion of a flow of dense black vesicular lava, dipping north-eastward at a low angle, but little changed as yet by the weather, and about as destitute of soil as a glacial pavement.

The surface, though smooth in a general way as seen from a distance, is dotted with hillocks and rough crater-like pits, and traversed by a network of yawning fissures, forming a combination of topographical conditions of very striking character. The way lies by Mount Bremer, over stretches of gray sage-plains, interrupted by rough lava-slopes timbered with juniper and yellow pine, and with here and there a green meadow and a stream. This is a famous game region, and you will be likely to meet small bands of antelope, mule-deer and wild sheep. Mount Bremer is the most noted stronghold of the sheep in the whole Shasta region. Large flocks dwell here from year to year, winter and summer descending occasionally into the adjacent sage-plains and lava beds to feed, but ever ready to take refuge in the jagged crags of their mountain at every alarm. While traveling with a company of hunters I saw about fifty in one flock. The Van Bremer Brothers, after whom the mountain is named, told me that they once climbed the mountain with their rifles and hounds on a grand hunt; but after keeping up the pursuit for a week, their boots and clothing gave way, and the and the hounds were lamed and worn out without having run down one single sheep, notwithstanding they ran night and day. On smooth spots, level or ascending, the hounds gained on the sheep. But on descending ground, and over rough masses of angular rocks they fell hopelessly behind. Only half a dozen sheep were shot as they passed the hunters stationed near their paths circling round the rugged summit. The full grown bucks weigh about 350 pounds. The mule-deer are nearly as heavy. Their long massive ears give them a very striking appearance. One large buck that I measured stood Three feet and seven inches high at the shoulders, and when the ears were extended horizontally the distance across from tip to tip was two feet and one inch.

Coasting Down Mt. Shasta from Picturesque California edited by John Muir From the Van Bremer ranch the way to; the Lava Beds leads down the Bremer Meadows past many a smooth grassy knoll and jutting cliff, along the shore of Lower Klamath Lake, and thence across a few miles of sage-plain to the brow of the wall- like bluff of lava 450 feet above Tule` Lake. Here you are hiking southeastward and the Modoc landscape, which at once takes possession of you, lies revealed in front. It is composed of three principal parts; on your left lies the bright expanse of Tule Lake; on your right an evergreen forest, and between the two are the black Lava Beds. When I first stood there, one bright day before sundown, the lake was fairly blooming in purple light, and was so responsive to the sky in both calmness and color it seemed itself a sky. No mountain shore hides its loveliness.It lies wide open for many a mile, veiled in no mystery but the mystery of light. The forest also was flooded with sun-purple, not a spire moving, and Mount Shasta was seen towering above it rejoicing in the ineffable beauty of the alpenglow. But neither the glorified woods on the one hand nor the lake on the other could at first hold the eye. That dark mysterious lava plain between them compelled attention. Here you trace yawning fissures, there clusters of somber pits; now you mark where the lava is bent and corrugated in swelling ridges and domes, again where it breaks into a rough mass of loose blocks. Tufts of grass grow far apart here and there and small bushes of hardy sage, but they have a singed appearance and can do little to hide the blackness. Deserts are charming to those who know how to see them - all kinds of bogs, barrens, and healthy moors; but the Modoc Lava Beds have for me an uncanny look. As I gazed the purple deepened over the landscape. Then fell the gloaming, making everything still more forbidding and mysterious. Then, darkness like death.

Next morning the crisp, sunshiny air made even the Modoc landscape less hopeless, and we ventured down the bluff to the edge of the Lava Beds. Just at the foot of the bluff we came to a square enclosed by a stone wall. This is a graveyard where lie buried thirty soldiers, most of which met their fate out in the Lava Beds, as we learn by the boards marking the graves - a gloomy place to die in, Monster Oak-near Redding from Picturesque California edited by John Muir and deadly looking even without Modocs. The poor fellows that lie here deserve far more pity than they have ever received. Picking our way over the strange ridges and hollows of the beds we soon came to a circular flat about twenty yards in diameter, on the shore of the lake, where the comparative smoothness of the lava and a few handfuls of soil have caused the grass-tufts to grow taller. This is where General Canby was slain while seeking to make peace with the treacherous Modocs. Two or three miles farther on is the main stronghold of the Modocs, held by them so long and defiantly against all the soldiers that could be brought to the attack. Indians usually choose to hide in tall grass and bush and behind trees, where they can crouch and glide like panthers, without casting up defenses that would betray their positions; but the Modoc castle is in the rock. When the Yosemite Indians made raids on the settlers of the lower Merced, they withdrew with their spoils into Yosemite Valley; and the Modocs boasted in case of war they had a stone house into which no white man could come as long as they cared to defend it.Yosemite was not held for a single day against the pursuing troops; but the Modocs held their fort for months, until weary of being hemmed in they chose to withdraw. It consists of numerous redoubts formed by the unequal subsidense of portions of the lava flow, and a complicated network of redans abundantly supplied with salient and re-entering angles, being united each to the other and to the redoubts by a labyrinth of open and covered corridors, some of which expand at intervals into spacious caverns, forming as a whole the most complete natural Gibralter I ever saw. Other castles scarcely less strong are connected Man leading children on donkey from Picturesque California edited by John Muir with this by subterranean passages known only to the Indians, while the unnatural blackness of the rock out of which nature has constructed these defenses and the weird, inhuman physiognomy of the whole region are well calculated to inspire terror. Deadly was the task of storming just a place. The breech-loading of the rifles of the Indians thrust through chinks between the rocks were ready to pick off every soldier who showed himself for a moment, while the Indians lay utterly invisible. They were familiar with byways both over and under ground, and at any time could sink suddenly out of sight like the squirrels among the loose boulders. Our bewildered soldiers heard them shooting, now before, now behind them, as they glided from place to place through fissures and subterranean passes, all the while invisible as Gyges wearing his magic ring. Judging from the few I have seen, Modocs are not very amiable-looking people at best. When therefore they were crawling stealthily in the gloomy caverns unkempt and begrimed and with the glare of war in their eyes, they must have seemed very demons of the volcanic pit.

Captain Jack's cave is one of the many somber cells of the castle. It measures twenty-five or thirty feet in diameter at the entrance, and extends but a short distance in a horizontal direction. The floor is littered with the bones of the animals slaughtered for food during the war. Some eager archaeologist may hereafter discover this cabin and startle his world by announcing another of the stone-age caves. The sun shines freely into its mouth, and graceful bunches of grass and erigonaea and making it beautiful.

Where the lava meets the lake there are some fine curving bays, beautifully embroidered with rushes and polygonums, a favorite resort of waterfowl. On our return, keeping close along the shore, we caused a noisy [s]plashing and beating of wings among cranes and geese. The ducks, less wary, kept their places, merely swimming in and out through openings in the rushes, rippling the glassy water, and raising spangles in their wake. The countenance of the lava beds became less and less forbidding. Tufts of pale grasses relieved on the jet rocks looked like ornaments on a mantel, Thick-furred mats of emerald mosses appeared in damp spots next the shore, and I noticed one tuft of small ferns. From year to year in the kindly weather the beds are thus gathering beauty - beauty for ashes.

Returning to Sheep Rock and following the old emigrant road, one is soon back again beneath the snows and shadows of Shasta, and the Ash Creek and McCloud glaciers came into view on the east side of the mountain. They are broad, rugged, crevassed, cloud-like masses of down-grinding ice, pouring forth streams of muddy water as measures of the work they are doing in sculpturing the rocks beneath them; very unlike the long majestic glaciers of Alaska that river-like go winding down the valleys through the forests to the sea. These, with a few of others as yet nameless, are lingering remnants of once great glaciers that occupied the can~ons now taken by the rivers, and in a few centuries will, under present conditions, vanish altogether.

The chaparral zone of Shasta by Thomas Hill from Picturesque California edited by John Muir
The chaparral zone of Shasta
Painting by Thomas Hill

The rivers of the granite south half of the Sierra are outspread on the peaks in a shining network of small branches, that divide again and again into small dribbling, purling, ouzing threads drawing their sources from the snow and ice on the surface. They seldom sink out of sight, save here and there in moraines or glaciers, or early in the season, beneath banks and bridges of snow soon to issue again. But in the north half, laden with rent and porous lava, small tributary streams are rare, and the rivers, flowing for a time beneath the sky of rock, at length burst forth into the light in generous volume from seams and caverns, filtered cool and sparkling, as if their bondage in darkness, safe from the vicissitudes of the weather in their youth, were only a blessing.

Only a very small portion of the water derived from the melting ice and snow of Shasta flows down its flanks on the surface. Probably ninety-nine per cent of it is God's Tents-Shasta After a Snow Storm from Picturesque California edited by John Muir at once absorbed and drained away beneath the porous lava folds of the mountain to gush forth, filtered and pure, in the form of immense springs, so large, some of them, that they give birth to rivers that start on their journey beneath the sun, full-grown and perfect without any childhood. Thus the Shasta river issues from a large lake-like spring in Shasta Valley, and about two-thirds of the volume of the McCloud gushes forth in a grand spring on the east side of the mountain, a few miles back from its immediate base. To find the big spring of the McCloud, or "Mud Glacier," which you will know by its size ( it being the largest on the east side), and making your way through sunny park-like woods of yellow pine, and a shaggy growth of chaparral , you will come in a few hours to the river flowing in a gorge of moderate depth, cut abruptly down into the lava plain. Should the volume of the stream where you strike it seem small, then you will know that you are above the spring; if large, nearly equal to its volume at its confluence with the Pitt river, then you are below it; and in either case you only have to follow the river up or down until you come to it. Under certain conditions you may hear the roar of the water rushing from the rock at a distance of a half a mile, or even more; or you may not hear it until within a few rods. It comes in a grand eager gush from a horizontal speed in the face of the wall of the river gorge in the form of a partially interrupted sheet nearly seventy-five yards in width, and at about a height above the river-bed of about forty feet, as nearly as I could make out without the means of exact measurement. For about fifty yards this flat current is in one unbroken sheet, and flows in a lace-work of plashing, unleaping spray over boulders that are clad in green silky algae and water-mosses to meet the smaller part of the river at right angles to its course, it at once swells its volume to three times its size above the spring.

The vivid green of the boulders beneath the water is very striking, and colors the entire stream with the exception of the portions broken into foam. The color is chiefly due to a species of algae which seems common to springs of this sort. That any kind of plant can hold on and grow beneath the wear of so boisterous a current seems truly wonderful, even after taking into consideration the freedom of the water from cutting drift, and the constancy of its volume and temperature throughout the year. The temperature is about 45°, and the height of the river above the sea here is 3,000 feet. Asplenium, epilobium, heuchera, hazel, dogwood, and alder make a luxurious fringe and setting; and the forests of the Douglass spruce along the banks are the finest I have ever seen in the Sierra.

From the spring you may go with the river - a fine traveling companion - down to the sportsman's fishing station, where, if you are getting hungry, you may replensish your stores; or, bearing off around the mountain by Huckleberry Valley, complete your circuit with out interruption, emerging at length from beneath the outspread arms of the sugar-pine at Strawberry Valley, with all the new wealth and health gathered in your walk; not tired in the least, and only eager to repeat the round.

A Mountain Bouquet from Picturesque California edited by John Muir Tracing rivers to their fountains makes the most charming of travels. As the life-blood of the landscapes, the best of the wilderness comes to their banks, and not one dull passage is found in all their eventful histories. Tracing the McCloud to its highest springs, and over the divide to the fountains of Fall river, near Fort Crook; thence down that river to its confluence with the Pitt, on from there to the volcanic region about Lassens Butte, through the Big Meadows among the sources of the Feather river, and down through the forests of sugar-pine to the fertile plains of Chico - this is a glorious saunter and imposes no hardship. Food may be had at moderate intervals, and the whole circuit forms one ever-deepening, broadening stream of enjoyment. Fall River is a very remarkable stream. It is only about ten miles long and composed of springs, rapids, and falls - springs beautifully shaded at one end of it, a showy fall one hundred and eighty feet high at the other, and a rush of crystal rapids between. The banks are fringed with rubus, rose, plum, cherry, spiraea, azalea, honeysuckle, hawthorn, ash, alder, elder, aster, goldenrod; beautiful grasses, sedges, rushes, mosses, and ferns with fronds large as the leaves of palms, -- all in the midst of a richly forested landscape. Nowhere within the limits of California are the forests of yellow-pine so extensive and so exclusive as on the head-waters of the Pitt. They cover the mountains and all the lower slopes that border the wide open valleys which abound there, pressing forward in imposing ranks, seemingly the hardies and most firmly established of all the northern coniferae.

The volcanic region about Lassen Buttes I have already in part described. Miles of its flanks are dotted with hot springs, many of them so sulphurous and boisterous and noisy in their boiling that they seem inclined to become geysers like those of Yellowstone.

The ascent of Lassens butte is an easy walk, and the views from the summit are extremely telling. Innumerable lakes and craters surround the base; forests of the charming Williamson spruce fringe lake and crater alike; the sun beaten plains to east and west make a striking show, and the wilderness of peaks and ridges stretch indefinitely away on either hand. The lofty, icy Shasta, towering high above all, seems but an hour's walk from you, though the distance in an air-line is about sixty miles.

A Reminiscence from Picturesque California edited by John Muir The "Big Meadows" lie near the foot of Lassen's Butte, a beautiful spacious basin set in the heart of the richly forested mountains, scarcely surpassed in the grandeur of its surrounding by Tahoe. During the Glacial Period it was a mer de glace, then a lake, and now a level meadow shining with bountiful springs and streams. In the number and size of its big spring fountains it excels even Shasta. One of the largest that I measured forms a lakelet nearly a hundred yards in diameter, and in the generous flood it sends forth offers one of the most telling symbols of Nature's affluence to be found in the mountains.

The great wilds of our country once held to be boundless and inexhaustible are being rapidly invaded and overrun in every direction, and everything destructible in them is being destroyed. How far destruction may go it is not easy to guess. Every landscape low and high seems doomed to be trampled and harried. Even the sky is not safe from the scath - blurred and blackened whole summers together with the smoke of fires that devour the woods.

The Shasta region is still a fresh unspoiled wilderness accessible and available for travelers of every kind and degree. Would it not then be a fine thing to set it apart like the Yellowstone and the Yosemite as a national Park for the welfare and benefit of all mankind, preserving its fountains and forests and all its glad life in primeval beauty? Very little of the region can ever be more valuable for any other use - certainly not for gold, nor for grain. No private right or interest need suffer, and thousands yet unborn would come from far and near and bless the country for its wise and benevolent forethought.

Concluding picture from Picturesque California edited by John Muir

Photogravures Following Article

Photogravure 'Among the Pines (Sacramento River, near Lower Soda Springs)' after painting by A. Hencke from Picturesque California edited by John Muir
Among the Pines (Sacramento River, near Lower Soda Springs)
Photogravure after painting by A. Hencke

Photogravure 'Falls of the Pitt River' after painting by George Spiel from Picturesque California edited by John Muir
Falls of the Pitt River
Photogravure after painting by George Spiel

Photogravure 'On the Big Bend' after painting by William C. Fitler from Picturesque California edited by John Muir
On the Big Bend (Mount Shasta)
Photogravure after painting by William C. Fitler

Photogravure 'Castle Rocks' after painting by Thomas Hill from Picturesque California edited by John Muir
Castle Rocks
Photogravure after painting by Thomas Hill

Etching 'Head Waters of the Sacramento' by James Fagan after painting by Thomas Hill from Picturesque California edited by John Muir
Head Waters of the Sacramento
Etching by James Fagan from painting by Thomas Hill

Photogravure 'Squaw Valley--near 'Now-Ow-Wa' (Old Grizzly's Den Invaded)' after painting by Thomas Hill from Picturesque California edited by John Muir
Squaw Valley--near 'Now-Ow-Wa' (Old Grizzly's Den Invaded)
Photogravure after painting by Thomas Hill

Photogravure 'The Three Zones of Shasta' after painting by Thomas Hill from Picturesque California edited by John Muir
The Three Zones of Shasta
Photogravure after painting by Thomas Hill

In general views of the mountain,
three distinct zones may be defined--
the first may be called the Chaparral Zone;
the next higher is the Fir Zone;
the Alpine Zone has a straggling growth of dwarf-pines,
which forms the upper edge of the timber line.

 

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