Ever heard of it? No? Well, now you have and you should totally go.
One of the cool things about Lassen is the number of hydrothermal features found within the park. There's this supposedly great area within the park called Bumpass Hell (yes, really) that is laden with hydrothermal activity. The trail was closed due to about 7 feet of snow so we only saw one little spring area.
Fortunately, most of the park was thawed just fine. We decided to hike a Cinder Cone volcano that was about 4 miles round trip. This is the longest hike we've drug Aeryn along on and she did so well I think we can up the mileage next time! As we began the hike we found these Fantastic Lava Beds. That's honestly what they are named but they truly are fantastic. Nature is incredible!
Just because she did well on the hike doesn't mean that she was always bubbling over with joy. About a quarter mile in she started to look like this was indescribable drudgery.
Until we ran into another family hiking with their 4 year old daughter, Zoey. Zoey decided that Aeryn was pretty much the most awesome person on the planet and wanted to be with her every second of the hike. We ended up hiking the rest of the trail together. If we went on ahead, Zoey would holler for Aeryn to wait until they were side by side again. Zoey's mom was quite appreciative to not have to carry her up the hill and loaned Aeryn her trekking stick for the journey. It made Aeryn quite happy.
Before we knew it we were at the top. I was a little surprised to see the double ring at the crater. Aeryn thought being at the top of a volcano was pretty much the coolest thing ever, as evidenced by the way she kept saying "Mommy, this is COOL!" Jim and I thought it was pretty amazing too. There was a trail leading down to the center, but since she was so happy despite it being lunchtime we decided not to push our luck and leave while the mood was still positive.
That afternoon we drove around and visited the other points of interest that were open. There was a trail through the devastation area from the last series of Mt. Lassen's eruptions (ending in 1917) where we could see huge boulders that had been ejected. Some of them were witnessed and photographed while they were still hot. Frankly, I'm glad I've never had to worry about a 2 ton scorching hot boulder falling from the sky anywhere near me.
That is Mt. Lassen in the background. The sun was so harsh that the clouds and snow blended into one bright spot. In person we could see the trails from where snowboarders had spent hours hiking up the mountain to earn the short lived joy of boarding down. When we took this picture a couple of them were in the parking lot after having finished their trip. I can't imagine climbing up a snow covered mountain, with or without a snowboard in tow.
We camped next to Manzanita Lake and it was beautiful. At dusk we walked the trail surrounding the lake where Aeryn explored and climbed and had a marvelous time. Until Jim tried to hold my hand that is, and then she freaked out a little. I'll blame it on having fallen in the lake (barely) while climbing on this log, even though I know that isn't the reason.
Highlights of this trip include:
finding the flush toilets in camp
making chicken fajitas for dinner
shaking chunks of ice off the rainfly when we packed up on Monday morning
Aeryn wanting to live at the Lake forever, and not go to school any more because she will "learn from nature"
surviving freezing temperatures at night
the camp store and it's reasonably priced sodas (root beer is a camping tradition!)
seeing the top of the cinder cone
the sheer number of ridiculous pictures we snapped
I think we all came home even more excited for our upcoming trip to Yellowstone.