We actually made it to Southgate Meadow (formerly Squaw Meadow) for lunch. Large black cloud hovering over Mt Shasta provided a cool cover during the most difficult uphill portion of the hike.
We turned onto the Southgate trail in the middle of rush hour. A steady stream of colorfully dressed youngsters were presumably heading to a counterculture gathering somewhere in the wilderness. Perhaps they were rendezvousing with a Lemurian contingent. Barefoot hiking was the order of the day for some of them - Band Aids are cheaper than boots. One fellow cupped his hands and drank straight out of a stream that crossed the trail. Giardia, where is thy sting?
Lots of other folks on the trail as well made for a busy but interesting hike. The leader's whining about his strained calf muscle provided a welcome excuse to skip the ascent of Gray Butte. The official rationalization was that the extensive smoke cover in the area - below hiking altitude, of course - would have obscured the glorious view that normally draws us to the summit of this peak.