Lassen Volcanic National Park
Aug. 30 -- Sept. 1, 2001
Lassen Peak, which burst into eruption and began a 7-year cycle of sporadic volcanic outbursts in 1914, was the most recent eruption in the contiguous 48 states before the 1980 eruption of Mount Saint Helens in Washington. The peak is the southernmost volcano in the Cascade Range, which extends from northern California into Canada. The area became a national park in 1916 because of its significance as an active volcanic landscape, and it is still one of the most atcive volcanic area in the US today.
We began our volcanic journey (Lassen and Crater Lake) in the early morning. It will be a very long drive if we go to Crater Lake directly. So we decided to go to Lassen first for 2 days, then go to Crater Lake for another 3 days, and stay in Redding for one night on the way home to avoid extreme long distance driving. We found out that Iris' tolerance in the car is about 3 hours. We had to stop at McDonald's (with playground) to let Linus and Iris play and relax. We checked in Mineral Lodge (about 8 miles south to Lassen park boundary) at about 2:00PM and we thought we were probably the only guests for the night. We took a short break in the room before venturing into the park.
|Sulphur Works is the most accessible geothermal area in Lassen. There is a lot of steam and strong smell just right beside the main road. A short paved trail leads to Sulphur Works where you can see small mud pots and steaming fumaroles.|
|Bumpass Hell is the largest geothermal area in the park. It's about 1.4-mile one-way easy trail to Bumpass Hell. This is Lassen's most spectacular and diversified hydrothermal area, with hot springs, mud pots, steaming fumaroles, and mud volcanoes. Linus and Iris were very interested in all the thermal features, but we have to be careful not to let them get too excited.|
|I went to Lake Helen to wait for sunrise. The lake is calm and clear, but it does not have the best angle though. There is a photo in a book showing the ice formation in Lake Helen in July! On my way back, I saw a deer just right beside the road. I stopped the car and we just looked at each other for at least 10 seconds. Although I didn't have a chance to get my camera, I enjoyed the moment of silence.|
|Kings Creek Falls trail is 1.2-mile via foot trail or 1.5-mile via horse trail to Kings Creek Falls. We chose to take horse trail descending to the falls, and climbed back via the foot trail. It was a very correct choice. The view from the horse trail is the best in Lassen in my opinion (well, we didn't try the Lassen Peak trail though). The falls are in shade for most time of a day; it is only exposed to sun from late morning to noon. It is important to get there at the right time if you want to get a nice picture. The footpath trail along Kings Creek Cascade is very steep. It's quite difficult and challenge for Linus. He had to use both hands to climb rocks. But he enjoyed the challenge and made it on his own!|
|On May 30, 1914, Lassen Peak awoke from its long sleep, blasting a 25x40-foot crater out of its summit. But the worst was yet to come. On May 22, 1915, Lassen Peak produced its largest explosion - the 174th recorded. It sent an ash cloud 30,000 feet into the air, and blasted superheated air northeast downslope, totally leveling the forest in an area 1 mile wide by 3 miles long, creating the "Devastated Area". Today, the area has been recoverd gradually, and reforestation is well underway.|
|It was the last stop in Lassen National Park for our trip. We went to Loomis Museum where some photos of early eruptions were displayed. We had a picnic by Mazanita Lake, but there were too many bees interested in our lunch.|
|Subway cave is located in Hat Creek Valley area (north of Lassen National Park). The cave, usually at or near 46 degrees F, extends for about 2300 feet, but only 1300 feet is open to the public. The ceiling ranges from 6 to 16 feet in height, so we have to be very careful with Iris sitting on my shoulder. The floor is not very smooth and we have to watch our step very carefully. We brought 2 flashlights with us, and we are in absolute darkness inside the cave when we turned off the light (there were many other visitors in the cave, so the moment of absolute darkness was not very long). After we emerged from the cave and walked back to the parking lot, Linus insisted to go again.|
Now it's time to move on to our next destination: Crater Lake.
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