Ready Set Go
When my friend Jenny mentioned having to move back to Denver my ears perked up a bit. “Road Trip” I thought to myself. The countless destination possibilities kept my mind wandering in the months prior to hitting the road. After a few informal planning session we put together our itinerary on the back of a IKEA Cabinet instruction manual, it was the only somewhat blank piece of paper in my disorganized laptop bag. But it was enough, the blueprint to the cabinet served as a blueprint to our adventure toward Colorado.
From Portland we headed to Lassen Volcanic National Park. We had a late start and left 12 hours later than expected which put us into the park just after 10 pm. I am sure sleepy people were cursing at us from within their tents as we made several loops at multiple campgrounds. After zombieing our way out of the campgrounds we drove to Lassen Peak Trailhead parking lot and made due with the truck cab. We had a long day ahead of and wanted to start the day with a hike to the summit of Lassen Peak. A 5:00 am start would have put us near the top of the southern most active volcano of the Cascades.
From the the 8500′ parking lot the well maintained trail is 5 miles roundtrip and gets you to the top of one of the largest lava domes on earth. Lassen peak is also one of only 2 volcanoes that have erupted in the contiguous United States in the 20th Century, Mt St. Helens being the other. The sun started to pull off the horizon as we made it to the the summit ridge.
After a short scramble you will find yourself enjoying a 360 degree view of California from 10,457′. If I am ever in this area during the winter a skimo run will be a necessity. We stayed just long enough to snap a few pictures and jogged down to keep up with our aggressive schedule.
On our way up, and down, we could see Lake Helen tucked behind Lassen’s massive shadow. It looked unimpressive until the sun was high enough to peak over Lassen’s shoulder and paint the lake a beautiful torquise. We found a rock ledge overlooking the lake and busted out the Mountain House.
After brunch we strolled around what was left of the ice patches at the lake’s shore. I disregarded the sign warning of the thin ice and proved it’s necessary existence when the top layer of ice I was walking on broke through and I nearly went for a swim. At least Jen found it amusing with her “I told you so” look all over her face.
We buzzed through the rest of the park that had several other prominent peaks and steam vents scattered throughout the landscape. Lassen was a pleasant surprise and we were glad we went off the interstate to drive through it. It is an amazing place that I had no idea existed until we started to plan out our route. Next stop: Yosemite.