Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Last night after coming down from Mount Shasta I headed towards Lassen Volcanic National Park.  I found the Manzanita Campground right inside the park gates at about sundown.  This was my campsite for the night.


This morning,  I liked the feel of my no rush yesterday morning,  I got up,  did some reading, some blogging,  and took my time before heading out to see the park.  I decided, I would take a slow day and enjoy the park.  I turned out at every turnout, just to look at the difference in the landscape of this park.  There was a large fire in the park that was 100% contained (put out) in August.  The devastation of this fire was amazing,  huge old trees were just left in charred ruins,  while others remained standing (and alive).


The largest eruption was May 22, 1915.  It blew huge chunks of “hot rock” from the crater.  Some of these rocks were as large as my camper!  It was strange driving through and seeing these large rocks scattered across the forest.  I drove on around to the Lassen peak,  the parking lot at the trailhead was at 8512 ft. 
I continued around till I got to the Bumpass Hell Parking lot and decided to go on the hike to see Bumpass Hell. The trailhead sign said the hike should take about 3 hours and would start off by going uphill for 500 vertical feet,  then down 250 ft into the crater.  (and do it the opposite way on coming back).    Keep in mind too that the trailhead is starting at over 7500 ft.   (The other day at Crater lake, they said this was the equivalent of 150 flights of stairs).  It was a very nice hike to hell,  great panoramic views (though still smokey)  and a nice gradual climb for the first 500 ft in elevation.  Then as I crested the peak, I could smell it (sulfur fumes that is),  and it got stronger as I went down the steep decline into hell.


It was really pretty nice in hell,  There were large fumaroles spouting the sulfur steam, and large boiling mudpots.  In some of these mudpots,  there was a black liquid substance that was how pyrite is formed (fool’s gold).  This shows that the volcanos are not dead, just resting.  The park did a tremendous job on the boardwalks to you can really enjoy the area without suffering Bumpass’s fate of his leg breaking through the crust and being burned in boiling mud pot (there are idiot signs all over the place saying not to get off the boardwalk,  many are burned each year…)

Well the climb out of hell was a little more than I was expecting,  I have been hiking quite a bit lately and not much has bothered me.   I guess hiking out of hell,  straight up at about 8000 foot elevation would slow most people down a bit,  I was breathing pretty good at the top, but rested a minute and then had about a mile of downhill (it really wasn’t that bad….  If you get here,  you have to do the hike!  I didn’t rest at all on the way up out of hell).   I drove back north through the entire park,  and headed Costco for supplies, and then headed towards the redwoods.

Oh… I almost forgot the quote of the day… I was doing a short walk at Devastation trail, and there were a group of school kids, and one of the boys (about 8 years old) turned to the other just as I was walking by  and said “if you don’t know what scat is… it’s poop!”

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