Now blogging about the last day of August - maybe you can see why it has taken me two months to get almost caught up on my summer blogging. We had a lot going on in a short amount of time! Never fear, life has been a lot quieter since then, so this "catch up mode" won't last forever. I hope.
The last big stop on our Oregon/California "ring of fire" sightseeing tour was at Lassen Volcanic National Park. Did you know that there is such as thing as a "Volcanic National Park"? We've been hoping to get here for a while, and we discovered that there's actually not a big window when the roads are open within the park. Lots of snow in the winter and a lot of work to clear it in the early summer. August is a great month to see the sights there, happily.
#1 goal in the park was to climb Lassen Peak, so we started with that.
Um, nothing to see here, John...
It was a quick start because it was cold in the shade, good thing the trail climbs up to the right:
Lovely morning sunshine on a nearby hill:
Tug (our truck) waiting in the parking lot:
Happily the rest of the trail was in sunshine and we warmed up nicely.
Vulcan's Eye and rocky evidence that Lassen Peak is a plug dome volcano (built from a whole lot of lava oozing upward out of a vent). I can't say we've (knowingly) seen a plug dome volcano before, something new!
My favorite mountain creature, a pika! OK, a photo of a pika, that's as close as we got to one on Lassen. Still cute though (and way easier to take a picture of). Just lacking the adorable "squeak!" that always makes me laugh. Their future is worrisome, with rising temperatures and the problem that they can only go uphill so far before they will run out of ground. Hang on, little pikas!
Views down into nearby valleys:
Further valleys, with a wildfire haze blanket:
We decided we were in the cleanest air around, so we might as well keep climbing up into it. Moving up into the barren landscape:
Not quite completely barren, there were a few twisted trees along the way:
I believe this chain of peaks is part of an ancient caldera rim, one that was so wide as to be hard to comprehend:
Wonderful stairs up an excellent trail:
Plenty of signboards to read along the way, nice little breathers:
Otherworldly scree-slope mountainside:
An exciting new term - "Quenched Blobs", formed when hot basalt hits cooler dacite. I sure hope I can remember this one.
Quenched blob examples:
Some of the youngest rocks in California, formed when Lassen filled with lava and then erupted in 1915. That would have been something to see - and yes, some people DID see it and take photos. Very cool!
Butterflies for Mom - California tortoiseshells in this case. They sometimes migrate through here, on wind currents sweeping them up the side of the mountain. That also would be something to see!
Maybe a plume of smoke from a distant fire to the south?
"OK, why are we walking on snow in August AGAIN? Whose idea was this?"
Looking across the cone near the top of the mountain:
In case you didn't happen to notice the "shadow figures" in the previous picture:
Hey, it's Mount Shasta again! Another peak that was high enough to reach above the smoky haze:
A friendly fellow hiker offered to take our photo, and we sometimes don't know how to act when we're not taking our own selfie...
King of Lassen! Also, this is the extent of John's yoga ability:
Vegetation on the north side got wiped out by volcanic flows in the 1915 eruptions, and it still looks pretty desolate:
More pretty scenery that we were looking forward to exploring in the coming days:
We saw a couple guys hiking up with skis and a snowboard. One was wearing a Primal Quest cap, which he said belonged to a friend and he didn't even know what PQ was. Pretty funny! Even better, we made it down the trail just far enough in time to watch them descend the snow slope. Awesome!
More snowboard action - thanks y'all for the excitement today!
Something of a gnarly, bleached tree:
That was an excellent start to an excellent few days in this wonderful park!