Saturday, September 27, 2014

Lassen Volcanic National Park

After two days of hiking Lassen National Forest, the PCT crossed into the 
national park on July 15. We explored the area for three days and camped for two nights.
I had never seen any volcanic activity like this before,
so this place was quite a new and exciting experience for me!

Right after crossing the border, we arrived at Terminal Geyser. 
Before checking out the fumerole, we swam in a hot spring pool below.

Terminal Geyser.

Then we hiked onward to Boiling Springs Lake...

A boiling mud pot.

Soon we would arrive at Drakesbad Guest Ranch, a stop on the PCT that's in the heart of Lassen, where we would have dinner that evening. This is the first view of the place from the trail.

As we were drawing nearer to Drakesbad, we spotted an RV pulling into a campground that we were about to approach. Then we could see, from a distance, a woman getting out and walking around the area. As soon as we had seen the RV, Freebird sensed right away that we would be talking to this person. Sure enough, we sat for hours at the picnic table with her - a beautiful woman named Cathy. She told us about a healing of an ankle fracture that she had experienced through faith. She gave us a book, Free Falling by Chuck Perry, who lives in Redding, CA and goes to the same church that she attends. This book contains many miraculous stories of healing and other works done by God, which Perry himself experienced. We would treasure this book on the trail for several weeks. Cathy also offered us toilet paper, plums, bananas, and granola bars. She welcomed other hikers over, and gave us all mineral water to drink. Kathy is a remarkable woman, living for God daily. Her actions alone show it. She carries a notebook with her everywhere, and on its pages she writes a to-do list for every day. Each day, there is only one thing on the list:

Welcome to Drakesbad!

Right away we met Nick, a former mule rider on the PCT in 2010. Now he's the assistant manager of Drakesbad. We paid him for dinner that evening, which included unlimited showers and a swim in their hot springs pool. He provided us with towels and shampoo. We had several hours to relax until dinner. We took outdoor showers beside a stream, did a little bit of laundry, and then swam until it was time to eat.

A marmot!
While swimming in the pool, we met a very friendly family and two lovely ladies who were staying at a cabin nearby. Aside from them, these curious visitors also came up to us...

Beside the pool, wouldn't you know it, there was another comb lying there. This is the second time that God orchestrated this! The first time was at the water cache in Lassen National Forest, which I talked about a couple of posts ago. As I had said, I needed a comb and purchased one in Quincy. So now, for a second time, God reminds me how He provides and that I need not worry about tomorrow!

That evening, we sat outdoors and enjoyed a five-star quality dinner of lasagna, salad, and carrot cake. We also had the pleasure of meeting more of the staff. The manager, Erol, visited with us for quite awhile. Nina, the waitress, gave amazing service with a beautiful smile. The cook even came out to talk with us and tell us about his experiences there. At the end of the meal, he gave us an extra piece of carrot cake as a gift. The food was phenomenal and the staff so friendly!

That night we got off of the PCT and decided to explore the park for the next few days...

Kings Creek Falls. We went swimming here!

Kings Creek Meadow, with a view of a small waterfall. We ate lunch here, followed by an afternoon siesta.

Look who came to visit!

The trail was closed to this cascade due to erosion. It just looked too beautiful to pass up. We asked ourselves, "What would John Muir do?" And so we followed the trail, which wasn't difficult in the least and was well worth it!

A meadow at the top where we stopped for snacks and swam some more. No other tourists were there. It was so peaceful.

We made our way to a park road to hitch to Bumpass Hell. We had made some plans to try to make it there by sunset and camp nearby. Soon we were picked up by Mel, a refreshingly unique woman. She was having a difficult time and worrying about her best friend, and she needed someone to talk to. We sat with her for hours. This was clearly more important than our plans. After having an incredible conversation with Mel, she gave us hugs and some rose Dr. Bronner's soap. Then we hiked onward to search for somewhere else to settle in for the night.

We stopped at this lake first.
Boiling water in this lake. We didn't see anywhere to camp and kept walking.
Cold Boiling Lake. We've found the place!

We cooked along the shore, watched the sunset, and fed a begging Stellar Jay.
Then we rested in the forest nearby.

Look who's back for more food, in the morning! It must've been raising some young,
for it kept returning to pick up more scraps for a very long time.

Morning view of the lake.

The Stellar Jay was sad to see us go, but we had to move onward. Bumpass Hell, here we come!

Cold Boiling Lake, from above.

Crumbaugh Lake

We paused at a spring to fill up water, smell the flowers, and admire Crumbaugh Lake.

Bumpass Hell, the largest hydrothermal area in the park. It contains Big Boiler, the largest fumarole in the park and one of the hottest in the world, measured as high as 322°F. The area is named for a man named Mr. Bumpass, who broke through the crust and lost his leg. So I was very nervous when I couldn't find the trail and just tried to meander in that direction, looking for Freebird.

Though scared, I enjoyed some beautiful views and ran with a grouse.
Sadly the grouse wouldn't give directions and instead his in a bush from me.

I spotted Freebird at a distance on the boardwalk and yelled for him. Thankfully, he was standing by the one area where the water is cool enough to cross. Everywhere else I could've lost my leg like Bumpass or who knows what else. The tourists around looked on with a mix of concern and amusement for this girl trying to get back on the trail. I crossed the cool spring, and Freebird pulled me up onto the boardwalk. It took me an hour or two until I could look back at all of this and laugh!

The cool spring that I crossed.

Standing in front of Big Boiler.

Our last view of Bumpass Hell.
Lassen Peak.

Lake Helen. A great place to have lunch!

Lassen Peak reflected in Lake Helen.
This is the last picture I took in the park, as we stood along the park road. We hitched from here and got picked up by an awesome British couple, Lydia and Jethro, who were initially going to take us to the edge of the park where they were camped. We figured that we would hitch again from there, in an attempt to go to Burney Falls next to get back on the PCT. What ended up happening was that they chose to take us all the way to the falls, about 40 miles out of their way! After hearing about the place, Lydia and Jethro wanted to go too. And so the four of us arrived in the state park that day and
walked down the trail to see the spectacular Burney Falls together.