Dive Bombers and Other Birds

Tudor Richards, USNR

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Shasta ascent itself involved a little more preparation. Hearing that there was some kind of a camp (“Horse Camp”) around 8000 feet and tracing on the map what looked like the best route, I started bravely forth from town the next day, armed with lots of food and warm clothes. Somehow I wandered too far to the east, the road I had been following petering out, but eventually got on a better road, having lost precious altitude, only to find the sun getting low. I was considering whether to turn back when a hunter came along in a car and gave me a ride of several miles up to within nearly a half mile of horse camp Horse Camp, which saved the day and the trip, the Camp being reached at sunset. It turned out to be a cozy little stone cabin, open but then uninhabited. There was a big fire place and plenty of wood and even some food left by my predecessor, so, what with what I had brought too, I was all set.

I should have got up early the next day but, having no alarm clock, overslept and then finding what looked like storm clouds up on the ridge figured it was “no go.” After a while, however, the clouds disappeared, and I started off, well past the middle of the morning. It was a long grind all right and all above timberline, the last little white-barked pines disappearing not far beyond the camp. The trail was not well marked, and eventually I lost it climbing the wrong side of a big snow bank, which eventually I had to go up over to get to the main ridge. The footing was terrible because of all the loose volcanic debris, but I finally got to the summit 14,167´ top, 14,167 ft., in very windy conditions. There were clouds but no enough to worry about, though they spoiled the distant view. The most spectacular views were of Shasta itself, and I took as many pictures* as I dared allow myself. The wind was icy cold, so I didn’t linger around, but in spite of following the right trail all the way didn’t get back to Horse Camp until sunset again, which meant spending another night there. This time I had company, a soldier who had spent the previous night in the woods somewhere below the camp and had followed me all the way up the mountain but not apparently reaching the very top before coming down before me. A young couple turned up after dark, they like the soldier having brought nothing at all in the way of supplies, and I doubt if they ever got to the top the next day. The soldier and I got down in fine style, walking all the way back to town at a brisk pace. The forest just below Horse Camp is a fine belt of red fir, forests but below that the main timber belt has been seriously damaged by former fires, which on all all the lower slopes have, in fact, laid waste to the whole area. Plantings by the Forest Service have been extensive, but it was too early to see how they’d come through.

Around San Francisco, not having had either a car or a bicycle, I had not been able to get around much except in the city, though I got up in the hills behind Oakland with the help of a bicycle hired at Lake Meritt and my own two feet for the steep places. Once or twice I had the feminine company of Lt.(j.g.) Leah H. Park, a Wave whom I saw a lot of that summer, especially in the evenings. Girls in uniform I had nothing against, in fact was all for them, though “Lee” and her friends drank too much to suit me, if not to excess, unlike so many Navy friends.

The Horace Grays, in San Francisco, were very nice to me, and on several occasions I slept in their guest room before a day off and even more often dining there.

Except for the shore-birding just south of Alameda, the bird situation around there was disappointing, but doubtless it would have been different if my cruising radius on the ground had been better.

* One came out well and eventually was enlarged to 11⨉14 or so.