Lassen National Park

We woke up rather late in the morning our first day at Lassen NP. The first thing we did was visit the ranger’s station to officially check into our campsite since we arrived so late the night before. We were talking to the ranger about trails and sights when we noticed a sign that said “Bumpass Hell Trail Closed.” That was the exact hike we wanted to do! The ranger then explained that the trail was closed because there was too much melting snow and that the path was too slippery. (Read about the trail and how it got its name here: Bumpass Hell)

After we left the ranger station, we walked around the grounds and spent some time by Butte Lake. When it was time for lunch, we went back to the campsite, grabbed our food, and had our lunch lakeside.

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Then we left the campgrounds and made our way to the main entrance of Lassen National Park. The drive through the tree-lined mountain roads was beautiful!

Arriving at the front gate, we saw the same depressing sign letting us know that the Bumpass Hell trail was closed. We drove to the window and the ranger was very friendly and asked if we had any questions. DB asked if Bumpass Hell was scheduled to be opened soon and the ranger’s eyes lit up and she said “we just re-opened the trail 30 minutes ago,” and our response to that was “awesome!”

We followed the main road into the park and made several stops along the way to the Bumpass Hell trailhead. First was an area called Sulphur Works. There are several active geothermal areas where boiling mineral waters and gasses bubble out of the earth. The high acidity and the mineral composition makes the water and gas very stinky. It smelled like sulfur – which if you don’t know, smells like rotten eggs. Observing the pools was fascinating, however it was also gross to have waves of hot, thick, foul, air hitting our faces, as Marlaina demonstrates with her face below.

Next stop was Emerald Lake. We got out of the car and walked around the stunning body of water.

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Then we arrived at the trailhead parking lot. There was an interesting arrangement of boulders that had an educational placard in front of it. We learned that phenomenon is referred to as a “glacial erratic.” To find out more about it check out this website: NSIDC

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We then filled our packs with water and munchies, changed into our hiking shoes and hit up the intriguing Bumpass Hell trail. When the rangers told us about the snow it was really hard to believe that it would be a problem in the middle of July, but soon enough we saw the massive snow packs lining the trail.

Having done some research about this hike before we set out, we thought we knew what to expect at the end of the trail, but in reality we were stunned. It felt as if we were transported to an alien atmosphere on another planet.

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After our incredible hike, we got back on the main road and headed out of the park the opposite way we came in so we could check out the scenery.

The mountain roads sucked up more of Becky’s gas than we had planned for, so we had to stop at Manzanita Lake to get some over-priced gas to make sure we got to our campsite.

The next morning was nice and cool so we slept in as long as we could before the sun was able to make its way through the tall pines that surrounded us. Feeling rested, we were ready for an adventure. Equipped with flashlights and headlamps, we headed to the Subway Cave to check out a large lava tube cave.

After our cave exploration we were ready for a hot meal. We headed to the nearest developed town which is named Burney. We found a little café and shared a warm sandwich and a pile of fries.

Then we headed to McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park to check out the famed McArthur-Burney falls. We were amazed at how easy the trail is and how enormous the falls are. The state park is along the PCT and we saw so many backpackers with their stuffed packs on their backs, sunburned faces and sweat stained clothes. We visited the general store that was stocked with all sorts of snacks and beverages and we decided to treat ourselves with some popsicles.

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Back at the campgrounds we decided to do the “Cinder Cone” hike which was not too far from the lake. However, it took us longer than we thought to hike the trail to the cone itself and we were going to run out of daylight if we kept going. We might have been able to make it in time, but we didn’t want to take any chances so we headed back to the lake and did some wading instead.

The next day, we packed up and left the park. DB’s friend, Ivy, recommended a trail that had spectacular views of Mt. Shasta, so we headed to Castle Lake to get to the Heart Lake trail. When we got to Castle Lake we were very fortunate to find a parking spot close to the water – it was pretty crowded and there were lots of big trucks with kayaks and canoes. Castle Lake was beautiful and it was very tempting to ditch the hike and just play in the water, but the promise of a secluded lake motivated us to find the trail and thanks to DB and her use of the “All Trails” app we were able to do so.

When we got back to Becky we were super hungry and we found ourselves at a Black Bear Diner. Even though it was only lunch time, we ordered off the dinner menu and had ourselves a filling meal of tri-tip, fried shrimp, mashed potatoes, green beans, corn bread and a garden salad. While we ate, we also were booking our next place to stay. This was the first part of our trip that we did not have our lodging booked.

We found a place to stay in southern Oregon called Klamath Falls and we made our way there in good time after we were done with our meal. The drive was very scenic!

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We checked into the small hotel and then went to a super store called Fred Meyer. Marlaina was pretty familiar with the chain of stores because she had been to a couple of them on her various trips to Portland to visit her younger sister. DB was very impressed with the variety of products – you can get everything you need there! We got a mini-cutting board, some camp cooking gas, and fresh fruits and veggies.

After our shopping trip we went back to our hotel room and started planning our visit to Crater Lake and central Oregon.

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