Saturday, July 11, 2009

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen Volcanic turned out to be much more spectacular than expected. I did not really know what to expect from it. I had read I could see four different kinds of volcanoes in there and a place where sulfur and vapors come out of the ground... So, when I got there and started hiking to different places, I could start grasping the feeling that this National Park actually has everything you can ask for!

When you come into the park from the West, the first sight is Manzanita Lake. It is a nice lake in the forest, with ducks and other animals. Your standard view of a NP.

Lassen Volcanic NP houses one of the only two volcanoes which erupted in North America since colonization. Lassen Peak (a little bit more than 3000 m high) erupted around 1915. Just for the record, the other eruption was in Washington in the 1990s!! That volcano explosion expelled quite a lot of rocks and caused an avalanche that carried the rocks really far away. Witnesses said the rocks were burning and kept hot for days. Now, the area where rocks landed is called Devastated Area and it is pretty interesting. Not to say it has the youngest rocks in California! Less than 100 years old as a matter of fact! ;)

The snow capped peak at the bottom is the volcano. Next to it, another volcano. (Just two different volcanoes in the same image!). The large rocks are the rocks that came from up there. As you can see, that's pretty far...

Then, after some driving, we got to Summit Lake, the first lake of a hiking trail which takes up to 2-3 days to complete! There we went for a short hike (30-45 min) to warm up.

After the lake, the road starts going up, heading towards the dreadful volcano. At some point everything covers in snow. And it is July and sunny...

Then, we got to the head trail for the hike to the top of Lassen Peak. It takes at least 2 hours to go up there, but it had to be worth it. So up there we went. I wanted to take it easy... last time, in the Grand Canyon, I did some part running and I got to the rim pretty exhausted. This time, I wanted to keep some energies for later. The views over the rest of the park were amazing! And the trail itself was pretty rough and beautiful.

At some points we had to go passed some snow-covered slippery areas. One of them was particularly scary: if you fell, on your right, there was a slide of around 300-400 meters... I guess you could try to stop the fall but I really did not want to try it, so I was extra careful. That part is not the one in next photo though...

Then, I got to the summit. The hike is strenuous but if you are in good shape, it only takes a couple hours and it is well worth it. It is actually a short hike considering you are actually climbing a 3000m volcano!!

This is the view from the top:

Me and the crater:

Me at the very very top of the volcano. That's really Lassen PEAK ;)

Then, the way back... and after that, another hike. This time, to a place which was really interesting, maybe the highlight of the park... Bumpass Hell. In the trail going there, we could have a look back and see the volcano we had just climbed:

After a slippery hike, most of it covered in snow/slush, we got to Bumpass Hell. And sure it looked like hell! And smelled like it! It smell like sulfur... like fetid bombs... and fumes coming out of the ground and boiling water! What a place!! Pretty cool actually!

Here, me taking in the view... :)

After that hike, we were done. Back to my car and 11h drive to Pasadena... On the way out of the park we saw two nice places. A strange peak called Diamond Head Peak:

And another geologically active area, Sulfur Works:

After that, a really long drive home ---> 11h. We got to bed at around 5 am, but the feeling was it had been totally worth it!

1 comment:

Javier said...

aqui hay varias fotos en las que nos apetece empujarte montaña abajo, jeje!!! lleva cuidado no tengas un "accidente"