Vacation: Ash Creek Butte

The objective of the day was to summit Ash Creek Butte and find the geocache there. Our approach was off of highway 97 on Military Pass Road. This is the same road taken to access the trailheads up to the Mount Shasta glaciers. We had gone about a mile when we encountered U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officers. They asked if we had any woodcutting equipment, what we were going to do (in general), and where we were from (in a conversational way). Then they warned us to be careful because there would be trucks loaded with wood coming down the road. I’m sure permits were required to cut wood, and it makes sense to me that they would check those permits. But I didn’t get why it would take six armed officers to do that. I’m wondering if they weren’t checking for some illegal leafy plant material to be coming out as well.

There’s the summit

Military Pass Road was rougher than I expected it to be so we had to drive slowly. After we passed the turnoffs to the Mount Shasta trailheads, the road smoothed out a bit. Eventually we joined Deer Mountain Road, which is graded gravel. We stayed on this for a few miles and then turned eastward on a logging road that dead-ended at 6800 ft elevation on the flank of Ash Creek Butte.

From here we had a steep 600 ft climb up to a ridgeline. It might have been better to park at a different dead-end road north of Surprise Lake. It was 200 ft lower, but accessing the ridgeline would not have been so steep. Once we achieved the ridge, we simply followed it as best we could to the summit. The ridge, of course, is the lip of the volcano crater, although one side of it seems to been blown out.

We came from down there on the ridge

We never had to walk on unstable rock, or put ourselves in danger of an extreme fall. About three-quarters of the way up, I took this photo looking back at the ridge. Mount Shasta dominates the skyline to the west.

Some rugged lava

Beyond the summit is some really rugged stuff. We didn’t go over there.

On the summit

On the summit, we found the geocache and signed the log. It has gotten one visit a year and we were the first to log it this year. We also signed the summit register, which has many more signatures in it than the geocache. Interestingly, the previous entry to ours was someone from Pleasanton. The summit of Shasta was wrapped in clouds. The peak finally popped out in the late afternoon.

Mount Shasta’s glaciers

Shasta and its glaciers are so impressive. We could easily see avalanche tracks and huge crevíces. I am actually still amazed that I have stood on the summit of Shasta by climbing a route up one of those glaciers. I couldn’t have done it without some great snow and ice climbing instructors and guides.

Our descent was anticlimactic. We exited the area on Deer Mountain Road out to McCloud, and then headed home.

Ash Creek Butte photo gallery

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>