Today, when the skies in Redding finally cleared and the temperatures were forecast to be in the low 80’s, it seemed the perfect day for a trip to Lassen Volcanic National Park. We put soup in the Crockpot, packed up our picnic lunch, and took off.
It’s not a long drive to the north entrance of the park from Redding – 35 miles or so? We rounded a corner heading for the entrance kiosk and were SHOCKED to see a bright orange sign that proclaimed “ROAD CLOSED 10 miles ahead”. We groaned in unison. Bummer.
Well, we were there, and the weather was perfect – blue skies and seventy degrees – so we decided to head on into the park and see what we could see along the ten miles of open road. As we flashed Odel’s Golden Age “get in free” card at the ranger in the kiosk, we asked where we could hike this side of the closure… and she mentioned she had just heard that the road through the park (high point is 8512 ft.) MIGHT be opening in two or three hours. YIPPEE!
We found a sunny picnic table for our p-b-and-j’s, then took a leisurely hike around Manzanita Lake, still snow-free (top photo). Considering the snow on Mt. Lassen, you might think it would have occurred to us to check road conditions before driving up, no?
Well, I’m glad we didn’t, because the road DID open at 2 pm. By then we had completed a couple more short hikes and were ready to ride, so away we went, heading for the summit.
Look at all that snow! It was the perfect day for a visit: shockingly blue sky, shirtsleeve temperatures, and very few other visitors dawdling along the road gazing and gawking this way and that. We wandered around where there was bare ground, then drove the short distance down from the summit to Lake Helen to eat our apples and absorb the beauty of the pristine snow, the deep green trees, and the unbelievable blue sky. Look at the reflection of Lassen in the lake (double click to enlarge the photo)!
We suffered only one disappointment: the trail to Bumpass Hell, an area of hot geology (bubbling mud pots, fumaroles, steam vents and hot streams) was unusable, covered in snow. Too bad – it is a favorite hike of ours. Oh, well – next time! On our way south, near the big Visitor Center, we stopped at Sulpher Works, a roadside hot spot, and enjoyed the bubbling mud, the steam vents, and the rotten egg smell. :)
Then we were out of the park, heading downhill and back to the 80+ degree temperatures of Redding. For our entertainment on the ride home, we had along my early birthday present, a talking GPS that we ASSUME will make our travels – in the Jeep – in unfamiliar cities a little easier. I’m still getting the hang of it, and she does get mighty annoyed when we take a path not recommended by her calculations. On this trip, we struck off onto a series of back roads that looked (on the map, which I still carry along and probably always will) shorter and more interesting than her interstate freeway route – something we probably would not have done without the GPS along. She handled it with grace and I learned a bit more. Quite entertaining!