Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 50.djvu/40

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28
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

ON THE CRATER OF MOUNT SHASTA.
By Prof. A. S. PACKARD.

AT one o'clock on an August morning in 1877 I found myself on the stage bound for Sissons, in Strawberry Valley, a bit of civilization nestled among the pines and redwoods twenty miles from the summit of Mount Shasta. The stage road wound through mountain passes and interminable forests of pines, following up the Sacramento River, here a torrential stream. A turn in the road once gave us a magnificent view of the Shasta cone, rising in a sugar-loaf shape, white as Carrara marble, and seeming to lift itself out of the forest on the right, though it was fifty miles distant.

At Sissons both the cone, which rises to an elevation of 14,440 feet above the Pacific, and its crater to the northwestward, which is about two thousand feet lower, were very distinct. The cone rises about four thousand feet above the timber line, and we could see the rough lava flows and ash fields lying between the summit and the upper edge of the timber belt.

Throughout the woods on the sides of the volcano bears and mountain lions abounded; our driver told me he saw one of the latter walking by the roadside a month previous. We saw deer far up in the woods; antelope range near the summit, and Rocky Mountain sheep, or bighorn, herd in the less accessible cliffs; while some time previous one of that rare and very shy mammal, the Rocky Mountain goat, which inhabits the more inaccessible ranges above the timber line, had been shot.

The view of the mountain that evening by moonlight was very fine. A light, silvery-edged cloud rested on the summit, while the mountain mass below, lighted up by the moonbeams, contrasted with the vast expanse of dark, somber forests in the foreground.

The next day was not favorable for the ascent, but it passed quickly. The forest scenes, enlivened by an encampment of Indians, in the rear of the inn, the rushing mountain torrents, the volcanic cones, or Black Buttes, to the northward, with their lavas, the old moraines, the insect life, all were novel features to an Eastern eye.

It cleared off at sunset; the clouds disappeared, leaving a thin veil of fresh snow on Shasta's peak and crater, now bathed in a ruddy glow, which, as the evening wore on, was replaced by the silvery light of the full-orbed moon.

The 25th was a glorious day, and in the bracing northerly breeze we started on our ride of twenty miles to the camping ground above the timber line. A distance of five or six miles through forests of magnificent oaks, pines, and redwoods brought