Pluto’s Cave & Haystack (Northern California) 12-Dec-2016

Pluto's Cave Northren California

Northern California’s Shasta Valley, a wide valley extending north from the foot of Mount Shasta, is a pocket of high desert resulting from Mount Shasta’s orographic seizure of moisture from east-bound Pacific storm systems. This wringing-out of the waters creates a sagebrush/juniper biome strikingly at odds with the moist, green forests found just a few miles to the south or north. This orographic lift also raises the odds for sunny, snow-free hikes during the winter months – a possibility we were alerted to by the excellent Hike Mt. Shasta website.  So, when the forecast for the Shasta Valley was for clear and sunny (but colder than squat), and our local forecast offered only more rain and gloom, we went south to explore Pluto’s Cave (Pluto Cave on the USGS map) and hike up near-by Haystack.

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