Lassen Volcanic

Lassen Volcanic National Park marked our first stop in California. The park is one of the few places on earth where all four types of volcanoes can be seen in close proximity, so naturally I was excited for it! We started out on the north-eastern side next to Butte Lake, sitting right next to a cinder cone volcano, aptly named Cinder Cone. Upon arrival, I noticed the lake – as inviting as it looked, I first hiked up to the crater of Cinder Cone to earn a good swim. The hike isn’t exactly easy: for every step you take towards the top, you slide back half of the distance just covered.

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Making it to the top, I instantly knew I’d have to come back for sunrise the following day. The views of the black lava rock, the Painted Dunes, the woods in the distance and Mt Lassen are simple breathtaking. I rewarded myself with a swim in Butte Lake and we had a relaxing BBQ for dinner. While sitting at the table, our neighbour, a friendly retiree, approached us and we ended up chatting for quite a while. He also gave us some bad news: the southern part of the park was not reachable without a several hour detour around the entire area – there was still too much snow on the road. Bummed we wouldn’t be able to visit almost all the spots we wanted, we quickly looked over the maps our neighbour provided us with to come up with an alternate plan. A while later we had an idea of what to do and went to bed.

4.30 am – alarm goes off – shoes go on and I was on my way to the top of Cinder Cone for the second time in 16 hours. I arrived just in time to witness one of the most impressive and rewarding sunrises and following golden hours ever. I’ll just let the images speak for themselves.

The forests in the distance of Cinder Cone are slighly obscured by layers of haze shortly after sunrise.

The forests in the distance of Cinder Cone are slighly obscured by layers of haze shortly after sunrise.

A few individual pines grow amidst the black, jagged rocks of what once was a deadly flow of lava coming from Cinder Cone.

A few individual pines grow amidst the black, jagged rocks of what once was a deadly flow of lava coming from Cinder Cone.

The Painted Dunes are a spectacular sight best enjoyed during the golden hours from the top of Cinder Cone.

The Painted Dunes are a spectacular sight best enjoyed during the golden hours from the top of Cinder Cone.

Getting back to camp, I obviously went for a swim again before we packed up and headed to the north-western part of the park, where we would only be spending one night instead of the planned three. We explored the few accessible areas along the road and found some spots where we’d try and do some astrophotography. One of them turned out to be perfect – Chaos Jumbles – where pines grow amidst heavy boulders of all sizes.

The galactic center of the Milky Way above the once devastated area now called the Chaos Jumbles.

The galactic center of the Milky Way above the once devastated area now called the Chaos Jumbles.

Being forced to cut this park extremely short, we headed out towards our improvised next destination. A spot I had not counted on visiting anytime soon, but was very excited to do so nonetheless, given its fame worldwide. Our one day there would not do it justice, but it for sure would be better than no time at all. You’ll find out what place I am talking about in my next blog. 😊

Until then,
David