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Nature's Beauty

Mount Shasta: Sacred Mountain Bathed in Mystery, Part 1 of 2

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Mount Shasta has long been revered by the First Nation American peoples as a holy mountain. It is the largest and second-highest peak at the southern end of the Cascades Mountain Range, in Siskiyou County, California. It is situated in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest in California, which boasts the most extensive range of thermal activity in the United States, excluding Yellowstone National Park.

The glaciers on Mount Shasta were formed during what is known as the Little Ice Age around 1,000 years ago. Mount Shasta houses the largest number of glaciers on one peak in California, with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) recognizing seven of them.

Around 4,700 acres (19 square kilometers) of woodlands, riparian forests, seasonal wetlands, and croplands were officially designated as wildlife areas in 1991, and this, the “Shasta Valley Wildlife Area,” is now home to an abundance of flora and fauna. Around 800 species of plant life exist between the summit of Mount Shasta and its lowlands. The wilderness is home to some rare plants, including Mount Shasta arnica, Siskiyou Indian Paintbrush, and Shasta owl’s-clover. Sadly, due to human activity such as hunting and raising animal-people as livestock, some of the animal-people who once called the mountainside home have now disappeared from the area, including wolf-, grizzly bear-, and bighorn sheep-people.

The first recorded ascent of Mount Shasta was made in 1854 by British mountaineer Captain Elias D. Pierce, and soon afterwards the mountain became of interest to the scientific community. In 1954, the Shasta-Trinity National Forest was officially designated as federally managed land, and Mount Shasta itself was formally declared a National Natural Landmark in 1976. What is now known as the Mount Shasta Wilderness has a history of human habitation dating back some 7,000 years, and in that time, countless First Nation peoples have called the area home. To the generations of First Nation indigenous Americans, Mount Shasta is still a meaningful place of reverence and an important sacred site.
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