Lassen Volcanic National Park
|Summit Lake view of Mt. Lassen|
Highlights: Geysers on Bumpass Hell hike; Kings Creek Falls; climbing Mt. Lassen; sunset at Manzanita Lake; lava tubes at Subway Cave.
This is our last trip for the summer, really, I mean it! No more being spontaneous.
The Raneys' invitation to join them was too good to refuse. Funny how we as a family talked about going to Mt. Lassen as we drove past it on the way home from Yellowstone. Just didn't realize the opportunity would happen so soon. The only sad note was that Tristan couldn't come with us - that darn thing called a job keeps getting in the way.
Packing and getting ready was easy; I have it down to a science by now. Being able to fit everyone and everything into one car required a couple of pre-trial packs, but with the help of the Rotblatts (Thule cargo box) and the Simonis (Yakima crossbars), we managed and boy, can I tell you how much nicer it was being able to carpool instead of having to caravan? I kept imagining how many times I'd have to be on the cell phone, telling the Raneys, "I gotta pull over. My kid has to pee!"
The drive up was about 5 hours, so by 2:30pm, we had arrived and made camp at Summit Lake North.
We went for a little hike to get the heebee jeebies out of the kids, but Phoebe wasn't having any of it. I was a bit concerned about Phoebe's ability to hike as Tristan carried her much of the time on the Yellowstone/Glacier trip. Since I have no upper body strength, I told Phoebe there was no way I could carry her. We had to head back to camp while the rest of the group continued onwards and upwards.
The next day, we tackled the Bumpass Hell hike - funny name, great hike to one of the main geothermal elements in the park - kinda a throwback to our Yellowstone trip. Right from the start, I told Phoebe I wouldn't be able to carry her. Again, Janis and Steve pulled ahead with the other 3 kids, but Phoebe and I walked at our own pace with lots of stops for photos, rests, questions about flowers and fauna and eventually we got to the fumaroles and mudpots and steam vents.
Then after a snack with everyone, it was time to walk back. More plodding, playing little games along the way and the ultimate motivator - ice cream - which finally brought us back to the trailhead. In the end, Phoebe had hiked up and down, a total of 3.6 miles. That was a new world record for her! But there was more to come.
After a re-energizing lunch at camp, we made the bold move to do another hike. This time our goal would be Kings Creek Falls, another 3 mile trip with twice the elevation gain of our morning hike. The first part of the hike took us around the edges of beautiful meadows with trees providing much appreciated shade. Half way there, the trail forked. The north fork, the horse trail, was longer but less strenuous. We decided to take the south fork which descended steeply and hugged the rocky edges above the creek.
Portia managed fine, but it was actually quite nerve-wracking taking the two younger kids down. The kids had a lot of fun cooling off in the small pool at the bottom of the hike and fortunately, coming back up the trail was a lot easier.
The next day, our group split up. The Raneys took Portia with them to climb Mt. Lassen while I stayed at our camp with the two younger kids and we had our own adventure hiking around and playing in Summit Lake. The mountain climbers returned in the late afternoon tired, but victorious.
After a nap and dinner, we took a quick drive north, passing through the Devastated Area and stopping at Manzanita Lake for showers, ice cream and sunset.
The next morning, we broke camp and headed home with a quick stop to visit the Subway Cave just outside the park. A series of "caves" were formed almost 20,000 yrs ago by lava flow. The outer layers of the flow cooled, while the inside continued to flow and stay hot. Eventually, when all the lava drained out what remained where tube-like caves. We brought flashlights and jackets. It's pitch black and cold down there!