Lassen Volcanic National Park

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.  By DimiTalen (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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 0ver Lassen Peak, even at this distance. By Kai Schreiber             (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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!


Bucket List Outdoor Trip — 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 — 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 — 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 — 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.