Mt. Lassen National Park

During our last week in California we spent a few days in a small cabin at Lake Almanor.  Mt. Lassen National Park is right next door so we drove there and did some hiking two of those days.  The above photo is DB standing at a roadside “vista point” on the main road through the park.  This was near the summit at about 8,500 ft (2,600m).

Our first day hike was from the Visitor’s Center to Mill Creek Falls.  The falls happens where two creeks come together.  Here are some photos from that hike:

There is a bridge over the top of the falls, which DB wasn’t entirely comfortable with.

This was about a 3 hour hike, round trip, on mountain trails that were gently uphill and downhill.  It was a lovely way to spend a morning!  After that we got a bite to eat and then drove through the park.  It’s not a big area to drive through and getting from one end to the other took about an hour.  Up at the top elevation we stopped to take some photos of frozen Lake Helen.  Before I knew better, I thought we might be able to walk around the lake.  That was until we got there and saw that it was covered all around with ice and snow!  I had no idea it was this high and still this frozen.

We stopped at the top of the summit and took more photos.  The first photo of this blog post is from that point.  Here’s another one.

For the rest of the afternoon we drove back to Lake Almanor.  Yes, it took a long time to get back since we drove around the perimeter of the park, to the east, then back south.  By the time we got back to our little home I had had enough of driving for one day!

The next day we decided to drive a shorter distance, from Chester to Warner Valley Campground, and then hike to Devil’s Kitchen.  The drive was partly on dirt roads, which weren’t always marked well.  We had to turn around once when we realized we’d taken a wrong turn.  It wasn’t far though – only about a 40 minute drive.  Then we started walking.  This hike was flatter and shorter than the one the day before – a “walk in the park”. 🙂

We walked first through a meadow, then some wooded areas, then ended up at the volcanic pits, bubbling and steaming.

It was really interesting seeing, hearing and smelling this activity.  The sulphur smell was pretty strong, especially when the steam got thick and filled the air.  In some places you could hear the thick bubbling of mud deep in the ground, which made a bass drum kind of thumping.  I tried to capture that in a movie, but it was too windy and all you hear is the wind noise.

Here you can really see why it’s called Devil’s Kitchen.  You can imagine this as a cooking pot, making a nice soup…

As you can imagine, you were required to stay on the trail.  There were signs saying that the ground around the pools is fragile and crumbly and can give way under your feet.  It’s possible to get seriously burned.  We did as we were told.

It was a really nice day trip to this part of the park.  On the walk to Devil’s Kitchen we saw only another couple and they didn’t go farther than the meadow.  On the way back we ran into a small group, but those were the only people we saw.  We saw deer tracks and I swear there were bear tracks.  We finally saw a marmot, but he was pretty far away and I only had my 50mm lens.  Here’s the best I could do for a photo of him.

I had never been to this National Park before but I’d definitely go back again, maybe later in the year when more of the trails are open and more snow has melted.  I already miss the trees.

If you want to see more of my photos from our Mt. Lassen visit, I have a flicker set here.

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