November 6, 2010

Lassen Volcanic Park Trip - Part 2

Day two of our Lassen Volcanic National Park adventure started with a drive back up the mountain to the trail head for Bumpass Hell , an active hydrothermal area.  The scenery was stunning, and seemed to change with each twist in the trail.
We made a short detour to marvel at Lake Helen, where the early morning light and calm winds provided amazing reflections and a deep indigo color to the water.  (You can click on the panorama shot, and all the pictures, to enlarge them.)
Vegetation got scarcer, and ash/rubble more prevalent, as we hiked higher.
We encountered a chipmunk who was curious about us, and wary but not timid.

We passed through a magical bit of forest and came around a bend to the first view of Bumpass Hell.  It's named for the unfortunate Kendall Bumpass who hoped to make his fortune here, but instead inadvertently stepped through the thin crust of soil into the boiling mud, and lost a leg due to the injury.  I took this parable to heart and adhered to the directives to stay on the path and the boardwalk.

It's a bit like standing on the surface of an alien planet, with bubbling mud pots, eruptions of hissing steam, and the powerful and pervasive aroma of sulfur.

Here's a short video to give you a feel for it:
Apparently, that's just the thing to make me very, very happy!
Off to one side there's an area where a mountain stream merges and mingles with the hydrothermals, and it produces a pond of the most amazing aquamarine color:

The weather was growing increasingly colder, so with a few fond farewell glances we left Bumpass and headed back down the mountain.  A squall blew up, and we hiked back down through a light snow storm that lent a magical air to the whole proceedings.
Back at the car, we headed down out of the mountain in search of warmth and sustenance.  The scenery changed again as the Cascades gave way to the Sierra Nevada mountains.
Down in Chico it was 30 degrees warmer, but the beer was nice and cold.  The Sierra Nevada Brewery is a extremely "green" operation, which made it an added pleasure to dine there.
Refreshed, we embarked on the drive back to Chester through still more amazing scenery, and the end of another very full and astonishing day.


Pat's Place said...

Amazing & beautiful! Especially ove the turquoise water.

Vivien Zepf said...

All very cool. I especially love the photo of the reflection in the turquoise pool!

Sue Reno said...

Thanks Pat and Vivien--I especially loved that turquoise pool as well. It was so surreal to see such beauty in that stark setting, amidst the sulfurous fumes. It was a good life experience for me.