Lassen Volcanic National Park Pt 11

Lassen geysers

Lassen “geysers” (fumaroles: steam and volcanic gas; or boiling pools; or steaming ground ) by waswisgirl1

After hiking in the Redwoods, and staying at a wonderful Youth Hostel (that may or may not still be open), my buddy and I went to Lassen Volcanic National Park. I’d never heard of it until I started looking at the West coast. It was definitely not one of my childhood park memories like the Redwoods or Yosemite. But what an amazing park!

I saw fumaroles (steam and volcanic-gas), boiling pools and steaming ground, like the picture I took, that reminded me of Yellowstone. Almost all of the volcanic features are made up of boiling pools-practically none of the “pools” in the park are safe to get or fall into.


Lassen mudpots by waswisgirl1

I went on the Bumpass Hell trail, so named after someone fell in one of the boiling volcanic features and  severely burned their leg. The trail is at 8000 feet, so don’t fly out to Redwoods and drive out to Lassen and think you can hike even a 3 mile trail without taking time to get use to the elevation, if you’re someone like me, who got there from the North Carolina piedmont. I camped at least a day before I did a thing other than set up camp.

Cinder Cone, the southern flank. Lassen Volcan...

Cinder Cone, the southern flank. Lassen Volcanic National Park, California, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I actually started out by hiking the cinder cone which is at 6061-6907 feet, before trying out the Bumpass Hell trail (at 8000 feet).  The cinder cone trail was one of the harder hikes I did during my trip to national parks, since for every step forward, you slid back two steps. I’d hiked around a cinder cone before, the lava flow trail at Sunset Crater National Park in Az, but I hiked it when it was a lot longer and tougher than it is now.

Mt. Shasta towering over Lassen Peak, even at ...

Mt. Shasta towering over Lassen Peak, even at this distance. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is a lot to do at Lassen, after the cinder cone and bumpass hell trail, I hiked Mount Lassen which was a hike from approximately 6000 to 8000 feet. Again, it was a pretty strenuous hike if you’re not used to high elevations. My buddy runs and definitely zoomed up, but I got there, and was glad I had my backpack full of extra clothes, since I stayed at the top of the mountain for quite a while-not that I could see a lot with all of the swirling clouds and mounds of snow to avoid falling over. Everyone was looking at my buddy and I like we were nuts when we had all these clothes we were wearing on the hike up , but they were practically running down the mountain, they were shivering so bad in their shorts and t-shirts! Sometimes, being a “girl-scout type” pays off!

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Bucket List Outdoor Trip Pt10 Redwoods

Redwoods National Park tree

Redwoods National Park tree by waswisgirl1 CC  BY-NC-ND

Went to Redwoods National Park after hiking a bit in Crater Lake National Park and walking around the caves at Oregon Caves National Monument.

I’d been to the Redwoods National Park as a child and remembered driving through a Redwood and walking on top of a stump that was as big as a ball room, so I had to go back and see what it was like as an adult.

Yep, the trees are big all right, as you can tell by the blurry picture above. I did look at some of the “classic” redwoods, but at each park, I liked to pick a cool boat ride or trail to hike that was out of the ordinary. My buddy Anne and I  found out you could register for a backcountry-ish type hike where a ranger would open up a gate and let you in to a remote area, so you could hike back out to your car out of it. We did just that. It was gorgeous, but the trip out was the most exciting part.

The road out of the “backwoods” was a narrow road through a huge slope, with the right side of the slope nearly straight up into the sky, and the left side a huge slope down-where I couldn’t see the bottom, with all of the foliage. All of a sudden, something came at the car from the right and we mashed on the brakes to avoid hitting it. Not one but two small black bear cubs came crashing down right in front of our car. I was such a ninny and was screaming (I’m usually pretty calm but there’s something about being trapped in a car..) and my buddy Anne was like “what the heck is wrong with you!”. I swore the mother bear was going to land on our tiny car if we didn’t start moving immediately (I always seem to be around baby and mother bears, and it usually didn’t go well for me-bears always win). Finally, Anne moved the car and I felt like we going to make it out of there-and we did. Onto Lassen Volcanic National Park!

Bucket List Outdoor Trip Pt9 Crater Lake/Oregon Caves

Crater Lake National Park, Phantom Ship Island

Crater Lake National Park, Phantom Ship Island by waswisgirl1 CC BY-NC-ND

After hiking a bit in Olympic National Park in Washington, my buddy and I went to Oregon to check out the coast, Crater Lake National Park and Oregon Caves National Monument.

I’d heard of and been to many of the National Parks I visited this summer, when I was a kid with my parents, such as the Badlands/Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone, Olympic National Park, but I’d never heard of Crater Lake National Park or Oregon Caves National Monument.

Crater Lake National Park was very surprising. We took a boat tour of the weirdest blue 2000 foot deep lake and islands-nothing like cruising on top a dormant volcano. The lake was beautiful, but eery.  It’s the deepest lake in the US. Who knew? The hike down to the boat tour was intense, if only I was in shape like that now!

I’d been to Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky earlier in the summer, and had taken a boat ride in the cave, but my buddy Anne and I wanted to see something different after the green, green, green of Olympic National Park in Washington and the blue/green of Crater Lake, so we went to Oregon Caves National Monument.


My pictures of the cave turned out perfectly dreadful, but the NPS has some great pics you can download, so I added one of the Ghost Room above, the largest room in the cave that I had seen. There’s also a lot of strange tales about the caves and park as well, you if you want to check them out. Both the Oregon park and monument were unique and worth the trip!

Bucket List Outdoor Trip Pt7 North Cascades

north cascades - mtbaker

North Cascades National Park – Mt Baker area by
waswisgirl1, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

From Glacier, I traveled past hot Spokane and met up with my buddy Anne in Seattle. From there, we drove to the North Cascades, Mt. Baker area, and camped at a North Cascades National Forest campground.

We found one of my favorite trails I’ve ever hiked-check out the photo above that I took. We drove a bit up part of a mountain, and when we started hiking, we were already at alpine level, hiking between mountains, in the snow, in shorts and a t-shirt. It was simply gorgeous.

After hiking, we drove up to Vancouver and tried out city life, while staying at a KOA, south of the city. I never felt so safe in a city-people walked on the city beach at night, and people kept their doors open to the beach as we walked by..granted, this was in it may be very different now.

From Vancouver, we drove back past Seattle, and went out to Olympic National Park, as I’d already spent a week at Mt Rainier National Park with a park ranger friend a couple of years before.

Bucket List Outdoor Trip Pt8 Olympic


Olympic National Park trail by waswisgirl1 CC BY-NC-ND

From the North Cascades, we  drove back past Seattle, past Mt Rainier and went to Olympic National Park. 

I’ve never been more disappointed in  a National Park.

Why? If you go to the mountains (part of Olympic Nat’l Park), then you’ll be somewhere like Mt Rainier National Park, which is beautiful alpine mountains/lakes (which I’ve already spent a week at, which is gorgeous), or if you go to the beach, you’ll see something like the Oregon coast, which I later went to. But the Olympic rainforest, which is probably incredible to a botanist, but to a Midwestern hiker, a temperate rainforest that is green from foot to sky, and very wet, is just plain boring, except for the occasional blue waterfall/river (see my photo of it). All of my other photos were just pure green, which was not interesting, to me, anyway.

After Olympic National Park, my buddy and I went to Oregon to check out the coast, Oregon Caves National Monument, and Crater Lake National Park.

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Bucket List Outdoor Trip Pt6 Glacier

hiking in glacier national park

hiking in glacier national park

After Yellowstone, I drove to the south end of Glacier National Park, since I was on my way to Seattle to pick up a friend who was going to travel with me for a while.

I found my old campground / trail maps, and discovered I had stayed at Two Medicine in Glacier National Park. The first night the ranger came by and told me I had to put everything that could be considered food, including toothpaste and soaps with scents, into my trunk or they’d store it for me, since the Grizzly’s were very active in the eastern part of the park in the summer and they didn’t want to attract them.

Hiking in Glacier-Two Medicine

Hiking in Glacier-Two Medicine by waswisgirl1, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

I read the info the park rangers provided about bears, so I bought these huge bear bells, and sang loudly while hiking..I ran across two backpackers, who took my picture, above. Since the foliage came up to my waist, and I was crossing streams, I had no choice but to make a lot of noise. Luckily, the only time I saw a bear, was when I was driving west out of the park, and waited a long time for a bear to get out of the road. It was the largest bear I’ve seen-no idea if it was a black or grizzly bear..I gave it all the time it needed to check out my tiny nissan hatchback!

NC moves away from education


Image: ‘(ex)it’
Found on

I’ve been working with NC community colleges for the past 12 years, since a community college really turned my life around..when I was hired, you had to write about what you thought of the open door policy at the 58 NC community colleges..we accepted anyone who wanted to learn..but because of relentless budget cuts, we have to tell students to go to other schools when our classes fill..this has been happening the last two years..many many community colleges are in worse shape. I just hate not being able to teach those who want and need it! NC has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation..yet our legislators provided money for private schools vs public schools..this past legislative session..

A lot is said about the cuts in university faculty and K -12 teachers but NC community college faculty and staff can’t get we can be laid off or fired at any time…our College President has done all he could..cutting part-time adjuncts, not hiring staff after they leave or retire..but now he may have to lay off staff and faculty..K-12 teachers are losing pay increases for getting their masters now..we lost that years ago..even though more classes require a masters before you can teach it. Most of our senior staff have our middle management is retiring as well..and folks aren’t interested in taking on more and more tasks..we’ve gotten 2% in pay increases in 12 we’re not doing it for the money!

Here’s an article about some of the changes our state has been going through:

fyi: I don’t teach English..

Bucket List Outdoor Trip Pt5 Yellowstone

Yellowstone Natl Park waterfall

Yellowstone Natl Park by waswisgirl1, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

I went to see Old Faithful, the geyser, but the photos look pretty bad.

I did manage to take some nice shots of waterfalls as I hiked in Yellowstone, though, so I added one of them here.

As I hiked along a trail in Yellowstone, I saw a number of people pointing at the area where I was, across a large field. I got closer to the opening towards the field, and saw a buffalo, about a 100 yards from me, who hadn’t noticed me at all (thank goodness), since it was grazing. What I did see, though, was a man with a camera, across the field, coming towards the buffalo (and me). I had read the material about the animals in the park, so I knew a buffalo could run 30+mph, and did not like to be approached . So I backed away from the opening, and kept hiking.

American Pronghorn - Hart MT National Antelope Refuge

Credit: Mariyln Gregory/USFWS

I don’t get why people who know nothing about wild animals think they can do whatever they want around them? At least the pronghorn antelope are way too fast to do anything but watch in amazement. I saw antelope jumping and running when driving between Tetons and Yellowstone National well as grazing elk..onwards to Glacier!

Bucket List Outdoor Trip Pt4 Tetons

Tetons Natl Park and lake

Tetons Natl Park by waswisgirl1, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

After getting through the Wind River, I made it to the Tetons and camped in Tetons National Park.

As I left to hike a few miles, I ran into a couple in an RV that told me that they had been to all of the sites in the Tetons and Yellowstone…I was amazed that they could hike that much. When I said so, they told me that they had driven to all of the sites!

I had a great time hiking up to the alpine lakes, and couldn’t believe it when I came across a mother moose and her calf. I backed away carefully just as someone pushed past me with their camera to take a picture. I warned them that moose could be dangerous, and she told me to shut up..I hope for her sake she got her picture safely..but if not, she certainly would learn just how protective a mother moose could be..

Bucket List Outdoor Trip Pt3 Wind River

Wind RIver

Wind River Natl Forest, by waswisgirl1, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

After Devils Tower, I unfortunately listened to the advice of a very nice lady at a State Info Center, and on my way to the Tetons and Yellowstone, took a treacherous trip down a windy narrow canyon road under construction..and stopped at a Wind River Canyon campground, in the Bridger-Teton National Forest since I was exhausted. I was traveling by myself, so I always chatted to families and camped near them..which worked very well.

The wind whipped up something awful, thus the reason for the canyon being called the Wind River..I kept a hammer with me for pounding stakes into desert/hard packed dirt camping spots, and kept pounding those stakes in as furiously as I could, as other tents and camping equipment blew by me. The wind was howling so bad, some people’s tents blew down the ridge we were perched on top of. At the end of the wind tunnel rush, my tent was the only one still standing…on to the Tetons!