Shasta Lake, Dunsmuir, & Mount Shasta

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After leaving Lassen Volcanic Park, and finally making my way to Interstate 5, my very long driving day was at least halfway behind me.  Unfortunately, after Lassen, the weather never improved, and most of the way I was driving through rain.

I wish it had been nicer as I drove past Shasta Lake.  Even in the worst of weather, the water was still a brilliant turquoise.  I can only imagine what it looked like here on a better day.

I took this picture at a rest area on I-5 northbound, near the northern end of the lake.  You get a great view of the lake as you drive by on Interstate 5, but if you want to enjoy it, you’ll need to get off the highway.

For a good scenic view of Shasta Lake and the dam that created it, exit from I-5 onto Shasta Dam Boulevard (CA Rte. 151).  From that road, you can also access some of the smaller roads that traverse the Whiskeytown Shasta Trinity National Recreation Area.

About the time I was driving by Dunsmuir, I was growing increasingly frustrated by the weather and the lack of opportunities I had to get out from behind the wheel.  So, I took a brief trip through the town of Dunsmuir.  This looked like a nearly-perfect small town, and would probably have been worth some extra exploring.

Dunsmuir is divided into two parts by Interstate 5.  The northern half is on the west side of the highway, the southern half is on the east.  I drove from one end to the other, partially because I was enjoying the town (and being off the highway), but also because I was looking for Hedge Creek Falls.  There are signs for the falls that draw you off the Interstate, but once I hit the surface roads, I simply couldn’t find it.  Since then, I’ve read that the parking lot for the falls is almost immediately after you exit I-5.  I never did find it, and eventually gave up.

I did find Ben’s Garage, and thankfully, I could take a picture of it without getting out of my car and into the rain.

Back on the Interstate, I headed north, hoping to catch a glimpse of Mount Shasta.

And I did… more or less.  Somewhere in all those clouds and haze is the picture-perfect volcanic cone of Mount Shasta.

It wasn’t easy to find, though.  As I passed through the town of Mt. Shasta on I-5, I kept looking east.  I knew the mountain had to be there, but all I could see was clouds.  For several miles, I think I stared out the side window more than the front.  As I passed the next town, Weed, I nearly gave up all hope.  As I came upon the exit for the Weed Airport (a landing strip off the side of the interstate) I saw a sign for Lake Shastina, and a scenic drive.

I took the exit, drove a few miles down a very small road, and there it was.  The clouds broke apart for just a minute–just long enough to see the mountain.

By the time I took a couple of pictures, Mount Shasta began to once again disappear in the clouds.  It’s quite possible that I was the only person to see the mountain that day.

I didn’t bother driving on to Lake Shastina.  I knew that what I had just seen was as good as it was going to get.

The clouds surrounding Mount Shasta during my visit were downright boring, compared to some of the bizarre sights captured by photographers over the years.  Check out this website, which shows some clouds like you’ve probably never seen before.

Mount Shasta was my last stop for the day.  I continued on to Medford, and quickly discovered that hotels are terribly overpriced in that town.

I’m fairly certain that Day 6 sets an all-time record for least pictures taken on one of my trips.  All told, I took only 37 pictures–an inconceivable number in the digital age.

Note: This trip was first published in 2007.

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