Thursday, October 23, 2014

Lassen Volcanic National Park, CA

Mount Lassen, peak elevation 10,457 feet, is a volcano that erupted as recently as 1915 when ash blew 30,000 feet into the air, and lava and mud flowed down the mountainside. It changed the surrounding landscape for many miles, and is used as a laboratory for Mount St. Helens' future.

Near the south entrance of the park is the Sulphur Works, where mud laced with sulphuric acid (smells like rotten eggs!) boils due to hydrothermal activity showing the volcanic activity in this area is not finished yet.
We see twenty or thirty of these old babies cruising through the park today, and what a setting Lassen provides.
A view of Bumpass Hell (not Bum-pass, but Bump-us) another larger area of hydrothermic activity. Named for the explorer who discovered it, there are many fumaroles (steam vents) here constantly shooting steam into the air reminding us of Yellowstone National Park, although these are not geysers.
For safety, we are guided through the vents and hot pools along a boardwalk, however sadly in the 1800s when Mr. Bumpass used to provide tours, he crashed through the thin surface and his leg was severely burned in a hot pool of mud. He lost his leg due to the burns.

One of the fumaroles venting.
We struck gold with this free campsite in the Lassen National Forest about fifteen minutes from the park. Notice that the trees behind the beautiful stand of pines at our trailer are scorched from a fire in 2009 when this area of the rim and the valley below were devastated. Grady is enjoying the sunshine in the bottom right.

In the Lassen National Forest near our campsite we find Subway Cave, a tube formed by flowing lava. It is a fairly large tube with a ceiling height ranging from 6 to 17 feet, and a total distance of 1,300 feet long, at least the portion we can walk through. It is similar to the tube caves in Lava Beds National Monument.

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