High Camp on Mt Shasta
is by far and a way associated with Lake Helen. Perched at 10,400 feet above sea level, it proves to be the customary half way point on the mountain. Lake Helen is not your typical lake. I have been to Lake Helen four times during different months, and I have never seen any water there (although I have seen a cool photo taken in late September when the Lake was melted out in all its glacial green tinged glory). In the photo above, we are camped in the blue tent closest to the foreground. On a good day there will be lots of campers at Lake Helen. Here they are set up in a nice semi-circle. The tents provide for a colorful scene when viewed from up higher on the mountain.
The snow in spring provides for a comfortable base for camping out, provided you have proper insulation below your sleeping bag. Make sure you anchor your tent well. Stiff winds can come up, and the last thing you need is your tent coming loose and tumbling down the slopes of Mt Shasta. The natural snow bank in the upper image, however, did provide for some wind protection.
We started out at Bunny Flat
around mid morning, and got to Lake Helen around mid afternoon. As soon as we get there, we set up our tent, and got to work on getting our water supply all set up. From past experience, I have found that my son Ben and I need about five quarts of water for summit day, while my son Sean usually needs far less. But he opts to carry the same amount of water, just in case someone else in the party needs extra.
This means melting down nearly 5 gallons of water when you add the cooking and cleaning needs to the whole equation. This takes time.
On our last trip to Shasta, I brought along two stoves and a couple of bottles of fuel to greatly speed things up. The little "Pocket Rocket" stoves weigh next to nothing, and work great for melting snow and cooking dinner.