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Day 4 – Lassen Volcanic National Park

July 12, 2017

It turns out I shouldn’t have been surprised by the amount of snow I was seeing in the mountains above Truckee. That was only a light dusting compared to what I encountered today.

I started out in a large turnout off California 89, maybe five miles outside of Lassen Volcanic National Park, in Northeast California.

Upon seeing the surroundings in daylight, I found that the turnout was actually the start of a forest road. I had no idea where it lead, only that it went up, which was good enough for me.

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After some twists, turns, and dead ends, the forest road dumped me out onto an unmarked paved road. Not having a map of any kind, I figured “Down” would take me back to the highway, which it eventually did.

I soon wound up in the national park, where I planned out this whole two day itinerary of hikes and other stops, all stemming from 89, which winds through the park north-to-south.

It was only after this all this planning that I found out that 89 through the park is still closed for the winter. In July.

My well made plans thus irrelevant, I made a new plan, for the day at least. I decided to head to where the road was closed, about five miles down the road and about 1400 feet up, where I’d be able to hook up with a trail that went through something called the “Bumpass Hell,” by a lake, some falls, and eventually back to the Visitor Center, where I’d hike back up the road to the trailhead.

Well, I got up there, circled the large parking lot three times, and finally figured out that the trail that was the foundation of my new plan… was also still closed for the winter. And by closed for the winter, I mean under four feet of snow.

Not having anywhere else to go, I got my pack together and decided to follow 89, past the “Road Closed” signs, for a while on foot. I quickly discovered that when Mother Nature decides to snow over a road up here, she doesn’t mess around. There were large sections where, if I hadn’t known there was a road underneath me I never would have guessed at it’s presence. Overall, it was an interesting hike. Exhausting, with the 8000′ elevation and hard-pack but still difficult snow, but not quite like any other hike I’ve taken.

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After several hours in the snow, I got back to my car and started heading back down the mountains towards a long detour to the west to get to the north side of the park.

A few shots between the Bumpass Trailhead and the Visitor Center:

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When I got back to the visitor center, I decided I still had plenty of day light left for a short hike, so here’s a few photos from a trail heading due west:

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After that, I had a long drive through Tehama and Shasta counties that took most of the night. Along the way, I happened across a utility access road that lead into Eagle Valley, where I found a decent view of the sunset:

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I’m presently pulled off Highway 44, about a twenty minute drive from the Butte Lake area of the park, where there are apparently several lakes, expansive lava beds, and an extinct volcano. So, tomorrow should be interesting.

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