On 12/27/14, Larry Fogelquist and Jack Fogelquist went to Guatemala as part of a Santa Cruz Rotary trip to install a water purification system at a hospital in the village of San Lucas on Lake Atitlan. Larry returned on 1/1/15 and Jack stayed in country to join his Cabrillo Engineering Abroad group. They will be working on a rain catchment project in another village near Antigua. He will be returning on 1/19/15. Larry put together this video to share how cool the Rotary trip was.
I don’t have time to post much on this now but I will fill this in a bit more later.
Jack has been hyper busy with school these days.. But he was able to come home from the STEM Center (his home away from home) for long enough last Monday evening (10/6/14) to give us a chance to celebrate his birthday.
Every year Jack takes at least one trip to Whistler during the summer to ride. For several summers he even worked up there as a pro coach so he knows the bike park really well. This is one of the first summers that he wasn’t up there to compete in the Crankworx Whistler Slopestyle event so he was able to relax a bit and just ride with his buddies. He made this video of his summer adventures. True to his style, this video celebrates the fun and stoke of being up there. It also kinda makes me feel like I’m wasting my life by not bein’ up there.
On August 28th Donna Bauer, Jack Fogelquist and Larry Fogelquist set out to climb Mount Shasta… Spencer Fogelquist elected to stay home and take care of Heddi.
Parameters of the climb… We took the Clear Creek route because it was the only route with water within our skill envelope. We drove north to Shasta and camped the night before climbing at the Clear Creek springs about 8,500′ up the mountain.
Next morning at about 7 AM we started climbing. It took us about 7 hours to reach the top. Total ascent was about 6,500′. We stayed on the summit for about three hours before finally tearing ourselves away from the summit plateau about 5PM. We got back to camp about 8:30 PM so our descent took us about three and a half hours.
Okay… now for some of the detail…
I’ll spare you, our precious reader the detail of the drive up to Shasta. I’m sure that you’ve driven up I-5 countless times. It’s seldom more than an endless freeway ordeal with rest stops, fast food breaks and an overworked car AC. This time though it was notable because the water level in Shasta Lake was unbelievably low. We found it pretty hard to believe that just a few years ago we were cruising around on full lake in a houseboat. But I digress…
Somewhere north of Lake Shasta we caught our first glimpse of Mount Shasta. We could barely see it though all the smoke from the nearby wildfires. But as it got closer I think all of us were a little humbled… maybe intimidated is a better word. It looked HUGE… and incredibly steep. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all.
We eventually exited I-5 and made our way through a series of endless back roads… most of em dirt until we finally got to the Clear Creek trail head… You totally had to want to be there. It was the Thursday before Labor Day so the parking lot was pretty empty. We knew that the next time we saw it though, Labor Day would be in full swing and cars would likely be stacked on top of each other. Time for some defensive parking… After taking an extra long time to get going (probably my fault), we hit the trail for the hike in.
We had to ascend over 2,000 feet to get from the trail head to our campsite. I did my best not to snivel but not sure how effective I was. It was almost a three hour trudge in. I count steps when I’m stressed hiking… and I counted steps all the way. I calculated that 260 steps was equal to about a tenth of a mile.
Entering the Shasta Wilderness area
My rule for breaks is to take them frequently and make em long…
And off we go again…
Donna and Jack within sight for a change
Jack would drop back and try to pull me along
Head down and counting steps
Rock stack very near to where we finally stopped for the night
Besides the whole climbing Shasta thing, this trip was notable cuz I was doing something I had sworn that I would never do… I decided to bring… and actually use, trekking poles. I know a number of folks who swear by them… But I’ve always thought they looked lame and as everyone knows, who knows me… I’m pretty vain. So how I look when I’m using outdoor equipment is important. Well… long story short… I wanted to hate em… I tried my best to hate em… but it turns out that they’re pretty nice to have. I’m mostly a convert now… which is embarrassing of course.
After what seemed like forever, we finally broke out of the forest for our first look at Shasta.
It was VERY big… this really wasn’t seeming like such a great idea now.
After a little more trudging, the grade got a little flatter. And I started to feel my urge to live returning. Then we saw the springs… Gettin’ to set this damn pack down wouldn’t be long now.
Our precious water source
Life amid the desolation
So fun to see some color
After selecting a place for our tents, we went about setting up camp…
…and all the while Mount Shasta was looming menacingly over us.
As I said earlier, there were wildfires all around the mountain. That evening, we watched as smoke from a nearby fire engulfed the lowlands behind us.
I was outraged because that meant we weren’t going to have much of a view tomorrow as we went up the mountain. I’m SO tired of our back country trips being marred by smoke. Donna and I are like fire magnets. Our first Shasta trip… smoke from the Lassen Fires. Our Lassen trip was smoke free but we were hiking through the forests that had burnt the year before. Our first attempt to hike in Emigrant, cancelled by the Rim Fire. This summer in Emigrant, smoke from a Yosemite fire… and now another fire near Shasta… Good grief… I think we may have to take up winter camping just so we can have some clear skies…
That evening we crammed as much dehydrated food as we could stand, into our bellies, sorted our climbing stuff so we could just grab it and go in the morning… and went to bed…
The next morning, after I procrastinated as much as I could get away with, and the alpine glow of the sunrise just beginning to touch the top of the mountain, we headed out.
The snow had long since melted off the mountain – there were only glaciers remaining, and none on our route – so we climbed through what looked like a lunar landscape… higher and higher. We marked our altitude gain by how much harder it got to breathe.
We looked up at Shastarama as it rose over a ridge. Shastarama Point is 11,135 feet high… Seemed like we’d never be as high as that peak…
…but shockingly soon we were even with the top of Shastarama…
Next stop, Mushroom Rock, or as I liked to call it, Rubber Duck Rock… This is an odd shaped pyroclastic formation at about 13,000 feet. It’s a landmark… a place to collect yourself and shift gears for the next 1,200 feet of climbing.
Mushroom Rock (aka UFO Rock)
Donna and Jack waiting patiently for me
Jack with his traveling flag
My climbing goal up to here was to maintain a thousand feet of elevation change per hour. That lasted for about an hour. Then it dropped to about 900 feet per hour for about three hours… At Rubber Duck Rock we (me mostly), was down to about 800 feet per hour.
After Rubber Duck Rock though, the character of the climb completely changes. To this point, it had been really nothing more than a strenuous hike (with the emphasis on strenuous). But from here on, us sea level dwellers are constantly doing battle with the thin air. Keeping a watch on feet of elevation per hour was kinda pointless. Also we changed up the route a bit so we could actually do some climbing instead of hike up switchbacks. We chose to go straight up a headwall above Rubber Duck Rock (aka UFO Rock) which was actually a little class 4 climbing. Not sure of the wisdom of that but we did it anyway.
We got through the rock abutment and didn’t die… actually climbing that wall was a nice change of pace from the endless scree slopes below.
Now we could see the top right there… so it was onward to the summit…
The top of Shasta is pretty complicated. It’s not just climbing up until you can’t go up anymore… In fact on some routes you actually have to go down a little bit before the finish. Of course that seems unimaginable. I think the most prominent feature near the summit is the ‘summit plateau’. This is a flat place bigger than a football field at the top of the mountain. Actually I think it may even be MUCH bigger than a football field.
Donna and I hung out on the summit plateau for a while. It’s a cool place with all these bizarre rock and ice formations.
Crazy snowfield… or maybe this was the top of the Wintun Glacier, near the top
Because of the drought, the summit plateau snowfield is melting out so there are all these odd ice formations
Jack picking his way across the summit plateau
The top of the Whitney Glacier and the top of Shastina in the distance. You can see how smoky it is from the wild fires
Part of an ancient communication tower on top of Shasta. You can see this tower in place in some old pictures of the top of Mt Shasta. It’s usually covered with the ice field …. that has melte
These four pictures show the summit plateau from one end to the other…
Meanwhile Jack bounded off to the top.
So now I guess it was time for Donna and me to get off our asses and finish the job… Jack told us the way he went up. I had studied the routes and knew that there was a trail to the top. Wasn’t quite sure where it was though. I couldn’t see it from where we were sitting. And due to the altitude, I was too lazy to look around for it. So Donna and I just did what Jack told us. The altitude had not only sapped our strengths, but had compromised our judgement as well. That’s okay though cuz what we did next was pretty fun. A little sphincter puckering but still fun.
We climbed up to this little saddle between two high points on the pinnacle. Then we saw this little essentially vertical chimney that snaked up the side of the pinnacle for maybe 30′ to the summit… Oy! Really?! I looked down… it was essentially space. Say four or five hundred feet to the first bounce… Nothing to be gained by looking down though so I turned back to where Donna had been… Holy Shit! She had already started climbing up the chimney!? No hesitation! I think pictures work better here than words…
The view looking down from the saddle
Wait… where’d she go?
Taken by Jack from above… Donna is climbing and I’m standing helplessly below…
…and she made it!
Now it’s my turn I guess. Time to man up!
Nothin’ good can come from lookin’ back over my shoulder
The GPS reading at the top. This is the highest I’ve ever been under my own power…
I had done more than a little preparation in the way of searches of the internet and reading about climbing Mount Shasta, and nowhere had I seen any mention of how difficult it was to get up the summit pinnacle. I guess in retrospect, it wasn’t all that tough. I mean there’s a damn trail up to the summit and all… But when we were sitting there breathless on the summit plateau, getting to the actual top seemed a bit troublesome. I’m glad we went up the pinnacle the way we did though. It really did make the climb. Of course had we known we were going to be so creative, we probably would have at least considered bringing a rope, helmets, some beaners… to do it properly. The altitude really did do a number on our judgement.
The summit itself has two high points. I don’t know which one is higher so I made sure to stand on both.
The two high places
The one we climbed up to…
And the one across from it
Donna and me on one side, looking over at Jack on the other. Jack was setting up for a picture with all three of us
Jack doing the set up… Turned out to be a cool photo…
Family portrait… ‘cept for Spencer… but we’ll fix that… stay tuned
Right next to the two summits is the summit register. Besides the register, it had some cool stuff in it… a couple things were kinda funny for over 14,000 feet.
Donna about to open the summit register
It’s in a very sturdy iron containter
The actual summit register
Our entry…. you can see that we’re not feelin’ too literate. I think our effective IQ had dropped to well below a hundred.
Some of the fun stuff in the register box
Oh… another thing about the summit plateau of Shasta is the fumarole. I had heard about it before and while at the top I didn’t want to forget finding it… Well it turns out that it’s really not that hidden. It’s right along the trail leading up to the top of the summit pinnacle. If we’d gone up the easy way, we woulda walked right by it. DOH! We found it when we came down though. It’s pretty sulfury so it’s hard to miss. But it’s pretty clear evidence that Shasta ISN’T an inactive volcano. It’s only dormant.
There it is right next to the trail
Donna and Jack looking down at the sulfur fumarole
There’s even a little PVC pipe sticking out of the vent
All kinds of weird sulfur algae stuff
Jack’s boot to give the scene a little scale
Hmmmmm… Now I guess we gotta figure out how to get down. We took a different route down than we came up. Instead of avoiding the scree slopes, we gravitated toward them. But first we had to pick our way through this icky talus rock field. While Jack and Donna were better at climbing, I’m better at descending so I ventured out ahead to see if I could pick a path. The only problem was that once I committed to a route, there was no turning back if it turned out to be a mistake. We couldn’t see our way down through the rocks so if I thought it was sketchy, I’d yell back up to urge Jack and Donna to not go the way I did… or yes, indeed, come this way. For a little while we were out of earshot so relied on whistle signals as I scouted a route.
It was definitely no fun. The rock would shift underfoot and at one point I was riding a slab of moving talus… sort of a rock avalanche. I don’t think it was dangerous but it was definitely unsettling.
All this at about 13,700 feet. So we didn’t even have the luxury of getting much air to breathe as we struggled. From time to time I would stop to pant and take some pictures though…
We did finally get through it though and proceeded down to Rubber Duck Rock.
Now that we got past Rubber Duck Rock, the going improved considerably. We went from talus to scree… So now descending changed from gingerly picking our way through the talus to literally running down the slope. Actually not sure if running best describes what we were doing. It was more like somewhat controlled falling. Jack and I took the lead. Jack stayed right on my heels to try to keep above the dust I was kicking up. I was using my trekking poles like ski poles. Sometimes it really did feel like skiing. Donna kept well back so as to stay out of our dust. I stopped breathlessly about every 150 to 200 feet of elevation to catch up on my breathing. It was amazing how fast we were coming down.
As we descended we stopped a few times to take pictures of the evening sights, snack a little bit, but mostly breathe.
Jack taking pictures and Donna snacking
The Thumb on the right
Shastarama with the moon a little lower down
The sun set so no more pictures. The rest of the descent was pretty uneventful anyway. It got darker and darker. I was trying to preserve my night vision but Donna finally busted out her light. I was secretly grateful cuz I kept tripping over stuff. Jack navigated us back to camp. Once in camp, we were too tired to make dinner. But Donna and Jack had both carried in a small bottle of champagne (Donna) and three beers (Jack). I felt bad for Jack cuz those beers were heavy. But I could barely bring myself to suck down my share of the champagne. Jack’s beer would have to wait.
Then we all retired to our tents for some rest.
Time to hike out… no hurry to get up so we all took our time… We cooked breakfast then packed up to leave. Nothin’ to carry on about. We all kept looking up at the mountain as we packed though. The day before just didn’t seem quite real.
In the morning, the mountain was clear, bright and vivid. You could see every detail. You could even make out Rubber Duck Rock almost a mile of elevation above us… but then the smoke from the nearby fires began to envelop us. Musta been a wind shift. By the time we left camp, you could see maybe 300 yards, the air smelled like smoke and my eyes were burning. But earlier that morning it had been so clear…
It was the beginning of Labor Day weekend so as we hiked out, the trail was full of climbers hiking in, intending to go up the mountain. I was glad that we were done. Any climbers that went up that day certainly weren’t going to have much of a view.
Pictures from that morning and the hike out…
Jack in his tent
Still can’t believe we were up there yesterday
Sortin’ my stuff for the hike out
More rocks in my boots… I thought i dumped everything out
Fat chipmunks everywhere
So much smoke
Lots of wildflowers
Donna and Jack hitting the trail
It’s so weird to see flowing water and flowers a midst all the desolation
My pack and boots when we got home…
I think we wanna do Shasta again… probably next year. But this time maybe go in June or July so there’s snow and no forest fires. We’re so OVER the fires. Also I still want to go up the Cascade Gulch route. It starts at Horse Camp, climbs to Hidden Valley. Then for the actual climb up Shasta you go up the gulch between Shasta and Shastina, take a right to climb up the ridge next to the Whitney Glacier. There’s a tricky spot towards the top right next to the foot of the glacier that I don’t know how to navigate. But after that it should be fairly easy to get to the top. We’ll see what we pull together next year. It would be nice to get a couple acclimatization trips in before climbing though. Would be nice to have a few more red blood cells. I hope we get to do it.
Okay so this post is a little late… Sorry… Our previous family blog was nuked by GoDaddy so we had to start over with this one. But this one’s gonna be better. So I guess it’s not all bad news. And okay, so I woulda been late with this post on the old blog anyway. But that’s my excuse.
So this year for Father’s Day, someone had the brilliant idea (probably me – genius huh?) of hiking the San Lorenzo River from The Buckeye Trail to the train trestle. Didn’t seem like all that far… But it turned out to be 8.8 miles… Oy!
And the river was higher than I thought it would be… double Oy… Isn’t there supposed to be a raging drought happening right now? What’s with all this water? But I digress….
Brief summary of the day… We drove down to the parking lot near the Buckeye Trail head, parked and proceeded on foot… Was a pleasant hike down to the river… longer than I thought it would be but still pleasant. Then it was time to enter the water… Oy… cold… but we were on a mission and quickly got used to the water… Then it was time to hike… Wading wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be… rocks, rocks, rocks… bushes, hardly any sand or anything smooth anywhere… good heavens! Things weren’t going very fast, or fast enough. We had dinner reservations… So way sooner than planned we exited the water and took to the trails to dash back to one of our cars and waiting showers… and of course… our dinner reservation. I could definitely belabor all this… but I’ll let some of the pictures do the talking… My biggest joy (and it was a big one) was getting to spend this time with Donna and the boys.