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Lassen Trip Report

Day 2 of 3

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Tuesday, August 31st
Brokeoff Mountain, Bumpass Hell

At 6am, it was a chilly 34 degrees inside my tent. Outside, it was a butt-cold 25 degrees. A visible and crusty layer of frost covered my car, the picnic table, and everything unlucky enough to be on top of it. I was glad I'd just purchased a 0-degree sleeping bag just before this trip. It kept me comfortably warm at night.

Dead tree at Summit Lake

Summit Lake was covered with a thin layer of early-morning fog which oozed over its surface. I took as many pictures of this beautiful sight as I could.

Summit Lake

I warmed up the car, paid the $14 camping fee for the next night, and started the half-hour drive to the Brokeoff Mountain trailhead. Along the way, I was sidetracked by the Brokeoff Mountain overlook, just before the Sulphur Works. I stopped here to take a picture of the mountain I was about to climb.

Brokeoff Mountain

Then I continued the drive and hiked up Brokeoff Mountain.

After the hike I re-entered the park (the trailhead is just outside the park entrance). I asked the ranger about Lassen Peak (my next day's hike), and he said the trail was fine -- but it would be cold.

I stopped at the Lassen Chalet, where I picked up a road guide at the gift shop. At the checkout counter was a picture of skiers at the Chalet. I remembered the trail map had shown a ski lift. I asked about it. They said the lift had been sold a few years ago. Sold, in this case, I guess meant removed.

Sulphur Works

I continued my drive along the park road. My first stop was the Sulphur Works. This is one of several hydrothermal areas in the park. Sulphuric steam rises from several places in the ground here. It's not very exciting -- in fact, it really stinks (literally). But it does provide a nice view of the beautiful road which I soon found myself back on.

Road past the Sulphur Works

Next up were several turnouts, including the Little Hot Springs Valley turnout. From here are nice views of (you guessed it) Little Hot Springs Valley and the mountains on the opposite side of the valley.

Rock face across Little Hot Springs Valley

Road construction held me up a bit, but the pilot car soon took me to the Bumpass Hell parking area. Before I even started the hike, I took in the views from the southern end of the lot, which is on the opposite side of Little Hot Springs Valley from the previous turnout. Then I started off on the Bumpass Hell hike.

Brokeoff Mountain and Mount Diller from Bumpass Hell parking lot

I'd thought about stopping at almost all of the turnouts in the road guide. But it was after 4pm now, and I thought I would get back to my camp, wash up and eat, and then try to find a good spot for sunset pictures. So I skipped the Lassen Peak turnouts (which I'd see the next day), and the Kings Creek Picnic Area (which I may want to visit on a future trip).

After an early dinner, I drove north along the park road. I continued past the Devastated Area. At some point the road turns southwest. At this point, the relative darkness I was in was exploded in a dazzling show of sunlight, shining above the treetops. Soon I had views of Chaos Crags on the left. And then I pulled into the visitor center parking lot at Manzanita Lake. There was no one else here, which surprised me just a little.

I wasn't sure where the best spot would be. I had read that Lassen Peak could be seen as reflections in both Reflection Lake and Manzanita Lake. So I first started hiking around the smaller Reflection Lake. As soon as I started on the trail, I startled a deer. It walked slowly down the trail and stopped, as if to see if I would go away. I continued along the trail toward it, and it repeated its retreat. Eventually it went off trail and I walked past it without incident.

I did find some nice spots for pictures of Lassen Peak and Chaos Crags as reflections in the peaceful lake. The trail itself is very peaceful, too. Despite its proximity to such a large campground (Manzanita Lake campground), the wild animals seemed to move about without a care. Deer foraged. Birds soared between the trees. Squirrels and chipmunks wandered about.

Chaos Crags above Reflection Lake

Despite the nice pictures, I was still looking for the signature sunset cloud colors. There were still some clouds in the sky, and I continued the search at Manzanita Lake. I saw a nice reflection of Lassen Peak, but tried to go down the shore to find a better view. I suddenly realized it was getting dark very fast, and raced back to the spot I'd found before. Just a couple minutes earlier, the peak had been entirely bathed in sunlight. Now, the last rays were shining near the very top.

Lassen Peak above Manzanita Lake

I never did find my sunset cloud colors. As I drove back, I came to the conclusion that the Chaos Crags parking area probably would have been better for such pictures. Or at least the opposite side of Manzanita Lake that I was on. Next time.

Deer running away from me

I drove back to my camp, worrying about running over a deer the whole way.


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