Volcanoes, steam and rotten eggs

09.07.08 | 1 Comment

Last year we went to Lassen Volcanic National Park for thanksgiving with Dad and Sabine, but little did we know the park was going to be closed. We only had access to a couple of sulfur holes (which introduced us to the wonderful palette of rotten egg-like fragrances) and hiked on the only accessible trail that led us to a waterfall. That trip was a great first taste of the park, but it really was only an appetizer and we were left hungry for more.

We made sure we would go back and made campsite reservations as early as March to secure a spot for Labor Day. So, last weekend we packed our bags and left on Friday night with our friends Joy and Kyle. We stayed in a Motel 6 in Red Bluff which left only about an hour and a half drive to get to the park the next morning.

We started with the Bumpass Hell Trail which was THE hydrothermal activity highlight of the park. It was absolutely stunning both for the sight and the smell. Vivid color contrasts, bubbly pools and steamy mud hole made it really live up to its name.

We then continued down the trail to reach Cold Boiling Lake, which turned out to be more of a Cold Boiling Pond… a little deceiving and added an extra few miles of hiking that we would otherwise have skipped. But what can you do… it’s an adventure!

Luckily we finished hiking fairly early and were able to set up camp in the day light. Our camping neighbors were absolutely adorable and kept giving us wood all weekend long! We were incredibly thankful because it turned out to be a lot colder than we thought and we fired up the bad boy as much as possible.

The next day, we were headed to Cinder Cone to see its crater and the Fantastic Lava Beds, on the north eastern side of the park. I’ve never been on or around a volcano and I was thrilled! Cinder cone is pretty small in nature’s scale, but you end up walking on cinder (essentially ash) which feels like walking on the beach. It makes every step you take doubly hard, especially when going up that steep hill.

When you get to the top and discover this big hole in the mountain, you realize how much sweating getting up that hill is worth it. The crater looked and felt so much bigger than I expected. I can’t even begin to imagine what craters like Mt. Lassen’s would be like. Giant.

From atop the volcano we had spectacular views of the fantastic lava beds created by several eruptions of Cinder Cone. They turned out to look like a very thick dump of volcanic rocks. They didn’t look smooth or anything. It almost looked like a junk yard. Weird. Fascinating.

After walking all the way around the crater and letting Justin hike down to its center, we ran back down the hill that gave us so much grief coming up. Take that, hill!

What a weekend! I love adventure and discovery. Our next big excursion? Grand Canyon! In the meantime here’s the full set of pics of this amazing place:

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