The Mt Shasta Trail Association has added another dimension to the Heart Lake hiked planned for September 11th as it was described in last week’s Mt Shasta Herald. While one group will explore the Heart Lake area as originally planned, another group will continue on and go for a more challenging hike/rock scramble up to the base of “Castle Spire,” the prominent thumb-shaped rock the is visible on the horizon to the southwest from Mt. Shasta.
Castle Spire is located atop the western end of granite Castle Crags formation. The route goes near Heart Lake, then turns and goes over the ridge and down to the PCT. When the PCT crosses the steep scree field of broken granite rocks, the group will turn east for a 1/2 mile upward rock scramble that leads to the base of the Spire. Participants will have a chance to peek through the little known “Castle Keyhole” arched rock, and the views in all directions from the base of the Spire will be magnificent! The group will not climb Castle Spire.
Participants for the Castle Spire hike need to be in excellent physical condition and have good agility. The round trip hike from the parking lot at Castle Lake is about five miles and is composed of periodic steep up and down sections both on and off trail. All participants should pack a lunch, camera, and lots of water. During the return hike the group will stop for a refreshing dip in either Heart or Castle Lake. Naturalist Mark Gibson (926-5966) will lead this hike.
The shorter, less demanding hike to Heart Lake is 2.2 miles round trip. This little alpine pond shaped like a heart, has shallow waters warmed by the sun. The pond leads to a small ledge and beyond to a plummeting valley that rises up to 14,162 foot Mt. Shasta. The views are eye popping and jaw dropping. This moderate, sometimes strenuous hike has a 600 foot elevation gain but is well worth the effort. An interesting note: the saddle above Castle Lake is in the area of the Indian battle with the US Calvary where Joaquin Miller, Poet of the Sierras, was wounded by an arrow that pierced his throat in June 0f 1855. Miller was a dubious historian so the facts are in issue. Call Joan Roemer (926-0647) for more info.
There is no charge for participation in these hikes.
Participants should meet at 9AM Saturday, September 11, in the fish hatchery parking lot to form carpools. The fish hatchery is located a quarter-mile west of the main Mount Shasta I-5 exit (the middle of the three) on the way to Lake Siskiyou.