#29 Lassen Volcanic National Park
Well, there was a LOT of snow at Lassen Volcanic National Park! Poor Teddy without his coat and gloves!
I have to tell you a funny story. The night before I was driving to Lassen and noticed in the distance that it looked like a lot of snow up there. One of the phone calls made was to a lodge that supposedly was listed as open on the web...it wasn't. The man who answered made me wonder if I had awakened a bear from hibernation. "What are you doing up here?!?" "You've got no business coming up here!" "There's way too much snow!". "Nothing's open; not even the National Park!" I apologized for bothering him and thanked him for his time.
After some phone calls, I turned around and found a campground at lower elevations. At the campground, the manager checked me in and was oh so nice; which was really great after dealing with the man/bear at the lodge. In the course of friendly conversation, she mentions a fox that has been yipping in the campground at night. No problem for me, at home, I'm used to fox, coyotes, mountain lions, etc... Then she mentions the momma bear and two cubs that have been going through the camp every night looking for food and being a bit of a nuisance. Again, no problem, "I'll make sure to put my food in the bear box". Manager: "Well, there aren't any bear boxes, you have to keep your food in the car". Me: "So, I'm going to be in the car...with the food?" "You do know bears know how to open car doors, right?" So I slept in the car, with the food and kept my tea kettle handy. Everytime I heard her sniffing at the handle of the car I banged the tea kettle to scare her off. That's how I spent my entire night...sniff, bang, repeat. Bleary eyed, I left camp at 6 am the next morning, found coffee, and drove to Lassen.
If you have been reading the blogs there has been a common geologic theme. Most of the parks have either been created from the Earth's plates moving or volcanic activity. Guess which one formed Lassen Volcanic National Park? Yup...
I made my way to the Visitor's Center and watched the movie, which was very good. Afterwards I approached the ranger who was by the trail map. Being cordial, I asked which trails looked good today. She said, "Snowshoes or skis?" "Neither, running shoes!" I replied. She gave me the most disapproving look over her glasses and said, "Well! You will have to stick to the road! They are still plowing the snow off of it, so DON'T get in the way of the snow plows!" I assured her I would turn around when I got to the snow plows and then ran out the door before I burst into laughter. There was another lady leaving at the same time and she evidently had heard the whole encounter and burst into laughter too. I so badly wanted to ask the ranger if she was related to the guy at the Lodge; but restraint seemed the better part of valor. I could hear Anna saying, "Mom you're such a rebel!" Guilty as charged...
I drove to the parking lot just above the visitor center and proceeded to set off. It was true, everyone else was on snowshoes or backcountry skiis. I was the only one dumb enough to be running up the side of the mountain on the road. Whatever...
This is how deep the snow was where I parked the car.
This mudpot was one of the first things encountered. Must be volcanic action somewhere. Seriously, Lassen is unique because there are 4 different types of volcanos in the park; a shield volcano, a cinder cone volcano, a plug dome, & a composite volcano.
There was another problem with going up the road. Rocks kept tumbling down onto the road at a troubling rate. Most were small like these, but some were rather large, about 12" in diameter. The solution was to be on the cliff side of the road, then I could jump out of their way without damage to my person. I had never seen so many rocks coming down off a mountain before! I thought of all the times I had tried to reassure my father-in-law that it hardly ever happens and it's no big deal; but when you're on foot it starts making you feel like you're the duck in a shooting gallery. Sorry Opa...you were right.
By the time I made it to the snowplows the snow banks were 10 - 12' high, and as promised, I turned around and did not get in their way. Time to drive home to Colorado.
Couldn't resist leaving a little reminder of my girl.