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All that has been observed of the internal frame-work of Mount Shastagoes to show that its entire bulk originated in successive eruptionsof ashes and lava,which,pouring over the lips of craters,layer upon layer,grew upward and outward like the trunk of an exogenous tree.
The weather of spring and summer throughout the middle region of the Sierrais usually well flecked with rain-storms and light dustings of snow,most of which are far too obviously joyous and life-givingto be regarded as storms.In the case of the smallest and most perfectly individualized specimens,a richly modeled cumulus cloud is seen rising above the dark forests,about 11 o'clock A.M.,directly upward into the calm sky,to a height of about four or five thousand feet above the ground,or ten or twelve thousand feet above the sea;its pearly bosses finely relieved by gray and purple shadows,and exhibiting outlines as keen as those of a glacier-polished dome.In less than an hour it attains full development,and stands poised in the blazing sunshine like some colossal fungus.Presently a vigorous thunder-bolt crashes through the crisp sunny air,ringing like steel on steel,its startling detonation breaking into a spray of echoes among the rocky canons below.Then down comes the cataract of rain to the wild gardens and groves.The big crystal drops tingle the pine needles,plash and spatter on granite pavements,and pour adown the sides of ridges and domes in a net-work of gray bubbling rills.In a few minutes the firm storm cloud withers to a mesh of dim filaments and disappears,leaving the sky more sunful than before.Every bird and plant is invigorated,a steam of fragrance rises from the ground,and the storm is finished-- one cloud,one lightning flash,one dash of rain.This is the California rain-storm reduced to its lowest terms.Snow-storms of the same tone and dimensions abound in the highest summits,but in spring they not unfrequently attain larger proportions,and assume a violence of expression scarcely surpassed by those bred in the depths of winter.Such was the storm now gathering close around us.It began to declare itself shortly after noon,and I entertained the idea of abandoning my purpose of making a 3 P.M.observation,as agreed on by Captain Rodgers and myself,and at once make a push down to our safe camp in the timber.Jerome peered at short intervals over the jagged ridge on which we stood,making anxious gestures in the rough wind,and becoming more and more emphatic in his remarks upon the weather,declaring that if we did not make a speedy escape,we should be compelled to pass the night on the summit.Anxiety,however,to complete my observations fixed me to the ridge.No inexperienced person was depending upon me,and I told Jerome that we two mountaineers could break down through any storm likely to fall.About half past 1 o'clock P.M.thin fibrous cloud films began to blow directly over the summit of the cone from north to south,drawn out in long fairy webs,like carded wool,forming and dissolving as if by magic.The wind twisted them into ringletsand whirled them in a succession of graceful convolutions,like the outside sprays of Yosemite falls;then sailing out in the pure azure over the precipitous brink of the cone,they were drifted together in light gray rolls,like foam wreaths on a river.
A few minutes after 3 P.M.we began to force our way down the eastern ridge,past the group of hissing fumaroles.The storm at once became inconceivably violent,with scarce a preliminary scowl.The thermometer fell twenty-two degrees,and soon sank below zero.Hail gave place to snow,and darkness came on like night.The wind rising to the highest pitch of violence,boomed and surged like breakers on a rocky coast.The lightnings flashed amid the desolate crags in terrible accord,their tremendous muffled detonations unrelieved by a single echo,and seeming to come thudding passionately forthfrom out the very heart of the storm. 2b1af7f3a8