A mere two weeks after going to Lassen with my dad, I rushed off to San Francisco to pick up one of my best friends from the airport. She came to spend a few days with me before heading home to Alaska.
I picked her up on a Wednesday afternoon, so with Bay Area traffic we didn’t make it home until late at night. After grabbing a few last-minute items at the store, we drove up to Lassen through the back road that they were in the middle of preparing to pave. They had been working on it for the last few summers and were pretty close to being done. Summer rains a few days earlier made for a muddy ride, but that didn’t slow my little car down. It was funny to see all the workers stare at us as they went by in big tractors or trucks! Just two girls mini-4-wheeling in a Elantra fearlessly taking it all in stride with the big trucks. Shush, don’t tell her that she’s not a truck!
We made good time and found our campsite. I was pretty excited; I hadn’t ever used my new tent before. Since Bethany was coming directly from Egypt (via Australia and China) she wouldn’t have her trusty tent that we had always previously used. I had purchased a 4 person REI Half Dome tent earlier (utilizing my fabulous dividend!) while it was on clearance. While I loved the versatility and lightweight 2 person Quarter Dome (what Bethany has), I wanted something bigger for when I go camping with Mom and Missy.
After setting up the tent, we went to make dinner and that’s when I discovered that I forgot something very important, the stove! Luckily we had a can of chili and firewood, so we just put the can over the fire and had it the old-fashioned way.
Forgetting the stove meant that we needed to drive back home really quick to pick it up, because the rest of our meals needed more than a fire could provide. After getting back from our quick trip, we took a short hike down to Terrace and Shadow Lakes. These two lakes are some of my favorite in all of Lassen. They are two beautiful, cold, rocky and wild lakes up in the alpine area near the Mt. Lassen. They aren’t as popular as some of the other more accessible lakes and it feels like you are on the edge of the earth deep in the wilderness (but without all the effort!). At that time of year parts of the trail were still covered with snow and we were very thankful for our trekking poles for balance. Even so I slipped on the sharp snow-covered boulders and cut my shoe. The scenery was still worth it.
Just before dinner we ventured around Manzanita Lake with it’s stunning reflections of Mt. Lassen and a variety of birds and animals. We even came across a doe and her very small twin fawns along the path and saw a whole slew of different birds.
Saturday we hiked out to Kings Creek Falls, a beautiful silvery waterfall. The trail meandered through a meadow, various spring run-of streams and rocky slopes before coming to the overlook near the middle of the falls. There is something magical about sitting and listening to the roar of the water as it cascades down. We then spent the rest of the afternoon lounging on the shores of Manzanita Lake watching osprey dive for fish and emerging dragonflies.
On Sunday we trekked out to Bumpass Hell. Lassen, NP is known for it’s volcanic history (it’s called Lassen Volcanic National Park for a reason) and still has several areas of geothermal activity. Bumpass Hell is one of the more famous, and more well-known and traveled areas. There are steaming sulphur pools, bubbling mud pots, and steam vents. Boardwalks wind through East and West Pyrite Pool and the steaming Big Boiler. The landscapes at Bumpass Hell remind me of the moon in some way. The rocks and earth are either a chalky grey/white or reddish-orange with turquoise hot sulphuric pools.
It was hot that day (for Lassen), so we drove just up the road to Lake Helen to eat lunch and for me to wade in the cold water to cool off. I couldn’t convince Bethany to join me though! After lunch we had to unfortunately leave and travel back home so we could get some sleep before I had to drive Bethany to the airport early the next morning.
Our vacation was way too short this year. I had to use too many vacation days with moving the month before, so I couldn’t afford to take any more time off. Hopefully this next year we can spend some longer time together.
One thing that I do love about Lassen, NP is that it is such a quiet National Park compared to many others in California. There are almost always campsites available, even on busier summer weekends, and the trails aren’t crowded at all. The busiest trail was out to Bumpass Hell, but even then it wasn’t as bad as some places in Yosemite on a quiet day. There is even some places in the park where you feel like you are deep in the back country and don’t see more than a handful of people all day.