lassen peak

Today I went with a few friends to hike Lassen Peak. It’s a hike I’ve been wanting to do for a while, but haven’t been able to since the trail to the peak has been closed for maintenance. It’s only opened a couple of times in 2012, and this weekend was the last scheduled opening of 2012.

The drive to Lassen was quite fun (at least for me, I’m not sure if my passengers would agree.) There was a nice windy stretch of road with smooth pavement and little traffic. There was a silver VW Eos in front of me that was flying down the road– That car was seriously fast– at one point it was taking a 35mph turn at over 70… I actually couldn’t keep up with it (it’s times like this when I wish my car was a WRX or STI not the base model Impreza)… but I had a lot of fun trying.

We arrived at the trailhead about noon. From the parking lot you can see what you’re up against. Five miles round trip and 2000 feet of elevation gain to get to a peak of just over 10,000 feet– not a difficult hike by any measure.

There were many, many switchbacks on this trail. This was number one. Lisa looks tired already…

The scenery in Lassen National Park is kinda nice. It’s hard to believe that this is all a volcanic blast zone.

The trail looks like it climbs into the sky.

I think this was about a mile in. The trail gains elevation pretty rapidly. From here the parking lot already looks so small.

A little past the halfway point the trail starts getting steeper. There’s some steps and then a bunch of switchbacks to get to a rocky ridge.

There was lots of construction equipment along the trail.

Crazy switchbacks along the side of the mountain. The trail looks like it could erode away in the next big rain.

Lassen is actually an active volcano. This is the actual crater which (thankfully) is blocked off by solidified magma. Random fact– Lassen (along with Mount Saint Helens) are the only two volcanoes to erupt in the continental US in the last one hundred years.

Awkward shot of random strangers at the peak. It’s nice to just chill up there and enjoy the view. These guys had the best spot, in my opinion.

Survey marker at the peak. According to Wikipedia Lassen is 10,462 feet above sea level. I’m guessing this is the spot where it’s measured from.

This is the highest spot that I could see. (Thanks Ray for the picture.) It’s a few feet higher than the survey marker.

The hike down from the peak was really quick– I think we made it from the top to the bottom in just about an hour. Lassen National Park is also known for its geothermal features. On our way out of the park we saw this crazy mud pit. The muddy water is boiling hot here- you can see the steam coming out of it. Apparently there’s a lake in Lassen Park called Boiling Springs Lake that’s heated by steam vents, which keeps the temperature at a hot 120 degrees. I definitely want to check that out the next time I’m in the park.

On our drive back home we caught the sunset at a little vista point. This picture’s my new Facebook cover photo.

Things I’m thankful for:

  • Hiking buddies (and dog sitters for hiking buddies)
  • Trail maintenance crews. I helped out with a trail maintenance day once– it’s seriously hard work. It’s probably twice as hard on a rocky trail like this one.
  • Subaru sunsets

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