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Day 5 – Lassen Volcanic National Park, Cont.

July 12, 2017

Another morning, another stand of pines to great me:

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Today was, as expected, interesting. Also, very, very tiring. Actually, it wasn’t so much that today itself was all that tiring. It’s more that the bill from the last several days came due. In the weeks leading up to this trip, I was keenly aware that I was way out of shape, or at least not close to the kind of shape I wanted to be in for the kinds of hikes I was planning.

So I tried to dedicate time to getting back into shape. Tried, and failed. Just the bike ride from San Francisco to the Marin Headlands and back on Day 2 took a lot out of me. So I decided to take it easy the next day. Instead, I hiked a trail with a 2000′ elevation gain. After that and yesterday’s snow shenanigans, I woke up today not wanting to move. But, there were volcanoes and lava beds to see, so I worked out the kinks as best I could and headed towards a trailhead.

First though, I made a quick stop at the Hat Creek Rim Scenic Viewpoint, where I go an expansive view of Lassen Peak, where I spent most of yesterday:

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And Mount Shasta, about 60 miles away to the north:

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Soon enough, I was at Butte Lake, where I picked up a trail that features the fore mentioned volcano and lava beds.

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Butte Lake

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This incline just about killed me.

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The views were quite good when I got to the top though.

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From the bottom of the crater:

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After exploring the top for a while, I headed back down and continued on…

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…eventually coming to Snag Lake.

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I had a loop in mind that would have taken me around Snag Lake, north to the far side of Butte Lake and back around, but it would have been another 10 miles and I just didn’t have the legs for it. I was also developing a sunburn on both sides of my neck (note to self: get a wide brimmed hat. The baseball cap isn’t cutting it.), so I decided to turn around and head back.

First, I couldn’t resist scrambling to the top of the lava bed, which the trail had been skirting. This was probably strictly forbidden, as it meant going off trail, but I left no trace, and I wanted to see what standing on a lava bed was like, as apposed to just looking at it from below or afar. If I had been more adventurous, and more unruly, I could have followed the lava beds almost all the way back to the trailhead, but I contented myself with getting just far enough in the get a sense of it.

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I then eased my way back to the ground and started back. It took the better part of two hours for me cover the four miles. I was beat.

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Volcanic areas are weird. I took the following two photos standing in the same spot, just spinning 180° between them.

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My last stop of the day was Manzanita Lake, by the north entrance to the park. Manzanita is just about as idyllic a lake as they come. Any other day, I would have hiked the mile and a half around it’s shoreline, maybe waited for sunset. Today, I walked a little ways around the parking area for about 20 minutes and called it a day.

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With that, I got back on 89 and headed north, towards Lava Beds National Monument.

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After kind of a lot of wandering around in the dark, for want of a decent road map, I’m a few miles north of Lava Beds. I’m not sure what there is to do a Lava Beds National Monument, and between my worsening sunburn, cramping lower legs, and overall fatigue, I’m not sure I’ll be doing much of anything, but that’s a question for tomorrow.

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