Lassen, part !! - Monday, 6/3
I'm getting a little behind ... on these posts. Today we drove the Auto Tour on the 30-mile Park road - 16 markers beginning at Manzanita Lake #16 - stopping at each tour point area. We couldn't get beyond Bumpass Hell #6 because of the road construction. But we already knew that. There's lots more to this national park, but much of it is inaccessible.
The features we saw are as varied as types of bread, but nearly all involve volcanic activity. Our first stop was at Chaos Jumbles - where three large avalanches brought enormous masses of rocks from Chaos Crags, plunging downward at speeds in excess of 100 mph - about 350 yrs ago. It truly is a jumble of rocks - be really hard to walk on.
A short, easy interpretive trail explains the Devastated Area, and it's well put together. The 1915 eruptions transformed this place from a mature forest and colorful flower-filled meadow to a landscape of complete "devastation." A huge pyroclastic flow engulfed this location with up to 20' of mud and volcanic debris. I'll skip some of the tour points, esp those we couldn't get to; otherwise, we'll be here all night!
Lassen Peak was created about 27,000 yrs ago when pasty dacite (DAY-site) lava was extruded upwards, much like toothpaste squeezed from a tube. Easy to picture! Much of the dacite is pink. Hundreds of hikers a year reach the top of 10,457', but not me and Jimmy! Just past the summit parking lot, the highest point of the park road is 8512'.
Hat Lake, created during the 1915 eruptions. Beautiful lake, but we were outa there in one minute when voracious mosquitoes found new blood: Ours. I'm still scratching - bleah!
Steller jay looking for a hand-out (which he didn't get).
Nature abhors a vacuum -- and the Devastated Area is rebounding with small trees.
We wanted to eat our picnic lunch at Kings Creek area, but the road was closed due to SNOW. This picture was taken just before we reached Kings Creek.
Smartie is dwarfed by snow at Lassen Peak summit parking lot. The temp up here was 42 degrees, but it didn't feel cold like you'd imagine.
After eating our sandwiches, Jimmy felt strong enough to push over a large boulder at the Bumpass Hell parking lot (as far as we could go on the road), and that boulder would've made quite a racket as it's a long way down. This is actually a glacier "erratic," having been carried to this spot and left behind by a melting glacier. We would've liked hiking the 3-mile R/T Bumpass Hell hydrothermal feature trail, but it was blocked solid by snow. Matt and I hiked this in July 1988 when he was eight years old, and we were amazed and appalled by the sights and smells. Not to be today.
Immediately below Bumpass Hell parking lot is this "defrosting" lake, quite the sight in person.
And then I saw the sign, which is certainly applicable! "Danger Thin Ice."
Bumpass Hell got it's name from a man named Kendall Bumpass who found this spectacular area in 1864. While guiding a party a year later, he reportedly fell thru a hot springs crust and was severely burned. His comment was, "the descent to Hell was easy." Today a boardwalk guides people around the super-heated fumeroles, acid-sulfate hot springs and mudpots.
Lassen Peak is on the southern end of a long string of volcanoes, a chain of 15 great peaks and hundreds of smaller ones that stretch from here to British Columbia. Most of them are composite volcanoes, but Lassen Peak is a steep-sided dacite Plug Dome Volcano, and this type usually have shorter volcanic events.. There are four types of volcanoes: Lassen Volcanic Nat'l Park has all four. Plug Dome, Composite or Stratovolcanoes, Shield Volcanoes, and Cinder Cones. I could go into finer detail but, like I said, we'd be here all night!
Lassen is sleeping again, but it's a pretty sure bet that someday the Lassen area will experience volcanic eruptions again.
The End. Or yellow snow? Ahh, maybe not - just kidding!