I decided to take a short road trip to Lassen Volcanic National Park and Whiskeytown Shasta Trinity National Recreational area in my newly bought Toyota RAV4 (license plate: RAMDOM :) and JVC Digital Video Camera/Camcorder. I arrived there in the evening; it was storming heavily and I stayed for the night in the Mineral Lodge.
Bright and early the next morning, I headed off to see the Sulphur Works (about one mile), one of the active geothermal areas in the park. I then moved on to bigger and better things by hiking down to Bumpass Hell (three miles) which is the largest geothermal area. Both Sulphur Works and Bumpass Hell offered bubbling mud pots, steaming fumaroles, and boiling water. Some of these thermal features are apparently getting hotter, perhaps making Lassen and Shasta as the most likely candidates in the Cascades to join Mount Saint Helens as active volcanoes.
Speaking of bigger and better, my next hike was up to the Lassen Volcanic peak itself (five miles) a somewhat strenuous (and relentless!) uphill climb. But the views from the top at 10,457 feet were worth it.
I then headed off to Kings Creek falls (three miles) which was pretty scenic and I got close to some wildlife who were obviously not threatened by my presence.
One of the cooler things about Lassen are the number of very beautiful and serene lakes in the park, including Emerald Lake, Lake Helen (which is visible as you climb up and down Lassen), Summit Lake, Mananzita Lake, and Butte Lake. If you visit, make it a point to stop along these lakes. As I drove through the park, I had the company of two cool hitch hikers who climbed Lassen Peak from the other side and were exhausted.
My final hike of the day was to climb up the Cinder Cone (four miles), which was active a couple of hundred years ago and the trail up was pure gravel ("two steps forward/two steps back"). Getting to the Cinder Cone involved driving out of the park and back in on a dirt road, and my RAV4's supsension stood the test brilliantly. Hiking up Cinder Cone as it was getting dark, however, was not the wisest move (albeit better than my Grouse Mountain hike in Vancouver in the winter in tennis shoes close to dark) but once again, the view from the top was immensely beautiful and worth it! I got to watch the sun set along the Cinder Cone, alone at what felt like the top of the world (poor man's Everest :) as dusk set in. Breathtaking and existential, considering that I just seen The Blair Witch Project just a week ago.
Fifteen+ miles overall hiking. I felt pretty good! I stayed for the night at a Motel 6 in Redding, and then headed out to the Lake Shasta dominated Whiskeytown Shasta Trinity national recreational area. I found a couple of cool spots to go off-roading (there's a specific set of dirt roads designated for this purpose), including one which was right next to the lake after you cross the dam and was slanted toward the lake, so I was driving leaning away from the water (like it would make a difference!). A fun experience!