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2019-06-17  
Medicine Lake Highlands, CA
mini location map2019-06-17
10 by photographer avatarmdfabbrini
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Medicine Lake Highlands, CA 
Medicine Lake Highlands, CA
 
Scenic Drive avatar Jun 17 2019
mdfabbrini
Scenic Drive136.23 Miles 9,189 AEG
Scenic Drive136.23 Miles   8 Hrs   59 Mns   15.16 mph
9,189 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Between health and financial issues, and looking after aging parents, my wife and I haven’t been able to do much exploring of Siskiyou, Modoc, and Lassen counties since we moved to Mount Shasta two years ago. And last year’s fires that ravaged our area and the persistent smoke and ash all summer didn’t help either. But, things are finally turning around, and a week ago Monday I had the day off and we were blessed with beautiful weather, so we decided to try to get into Medicine Lake, located about 33 miles east of Mount Shasta.

Medicine Lake is located in the caldera of the Medicine Lake shield volcano, measuring 22 miles east to west, and 28 to 31 miles north to south. The lake is at about 6700 feet, while the highest point of the caldera rim is at 7921 feet. Given the amount of snow we had in the area this past winter, we knew snow near the lake was likely, but we were hoping that we might make it in.

We headed east on State Route 89, past McCloud, turning north at Bartle onto USFS Road 15. After about 2 miles, we turned onto USFS Road 49. The road remains in heavy forest fir some miles, but as one slowly climbs the flank of the shield volcano, features such as lava flows, collapsed lava tubes, and parasitic cinder cones come into view. On the way, we stopped to investigate the head wall of one lava flow, a collapsed lava tube, and the Jot Dean Ice Cave. There was quite a bit of ice in this lava tube, with the temperature in the tube being at about 34 degrees, while it was almost 80 degrees on the surface. The road and surrounding landscape was free of snow for most of the ride up 49, until we were stymied about 2 miles from the lake by about 2 feet deep snow remaining on the road. While snow had not been present on the road up until this point, numerous trees had been laying on the road, but fortunately someone before us had cut and pulled pieces out of the way, allowing us to proceed.

We turned around and went south a mile and tried to go west on forest road 43N11, to forest road 15, hoping that an approach to the west side of the lake might be possible. On the way, we stopped at a flat area and enjoyed lunch in the shade of a tree. Up until this time, we hadn’t seen anyone else for several hours. After lunch, we proceeded, having to pull several downed trees out of the way. But again, at about 1.5 miles from 15, we were stopped by snow, forcing us to turn around. As we made our way back, we ran into several other travelers attempting to get to the lake.

All in all, it was a good day. This is simply stunning country. We will try to go back to the lake next month and make a couple of days of it camping and exploring further.
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