After our fantastic day in Redding and Shasta, we finally arrived in Lassen in the late afternoon. Once we found our campsite at the Summit Lake South campground, we pretty much had time to set up camp …
Build a fire …
And make a quick dinner (the boys’ favorite camping meal: hot dogs).
Of course there was marshmallow roasting later and some relaxation time. We’d treated our clothes with some mosquito repellant so we were actually able to sit outside without getting bitten to pieces. (We’d heard that the mosquitos were horrible, but we actually came away with only a couple of bites.)
The next morning after breakfast, we dragged the boys away from their whittling …
… and took a walk by the lake. The landscape is stunning so I’m just going to post a bunch of photos here.
After our walk, we packed up some lunch and drove to Manzanita Lake where we rented kayaks and paddled around the lake.
It was a beautiful day.
After the kayaking, Bruce and Finn tried paddle boarding.
Ezra just wanted to walk around in the water. Can’t hardly blame him.
They did all take a swim a little later at another area of the lake.
Next we went to the Loomis Museum and the boys did part of their Junior Ranger activity. We then hiked the short Lily Pond Trail and stopped for lunch.
On the drive back to our campsite, we stopped at Hot Rock which is a 30-ton chunk of rock that was swept from Lassen Peak to its current location in the 1915 eruptions.
Climbing ensued, of course.
Next we went to the Devastated Area which had a short hike with lots of stops explaining the 1915 eruptions with before and after photos.
Of course, nature is rebounding in this area, but it is still a shadow of the mature forest that was destroyed in 1915.
The stop along the trail explaining “puzzled rocks” was of particular interest to the boys.
Back at the campsite, we had a little time to relax (with more whittling).
And then the boys went swimming at the lake. (I, like an idiot, had decided not to bring a swim suit because we thought the water would be too cold. I won’t make that mistake again.) While they were gone I read my book and watched this curious squirrel look for food we might have left behind.
Later there were the usual evening activities.
We called it pretty early as we were all tired from the day’s activities.
The next morning Finn did some reading.
Ezra did some playing in the muddy water.
And then we packed up for our big activity of the day, hiking the Bumpass Hell trail. It was a perfect hike for us — a little over 2.5 miles, mostly easy terrain although occasionally challenging, with spectacular views. There was still snow on the ground, and, in fact, the trail had only been opened for the season a few days before we arrived. Good timing as it was definitely a highlight of our trip.
The payoff of “all the walking” (as the boys would say) is the Bumpass Hell area which is chock full of fumaroles and mudpots, reminding us there is all sorts of stuff going on under the surface of the earth that we normally can’t see. It was fascinating, and easily accessible with boardwalks (and lots of warnings to stay on the boardwalks or risk burn injuries!).
Here’s a five-second video of one of the boiling mudpots.
And here’s another ten-second video.
After we’d explored the boardwalk areas, we went to the lookout point above. Google Photos stitched together my individual pictures to make this panorama of the whole thing.
Finally, we headed back out.
We’d arrived pretty early and mostly had the trail to ourselves, but as we were leaving it was quite crowded so we were happy we’d gotten an early start.
After the hike, we took a break in the parking lot for snacks and more work on the Junior Ranger activities.
On the way to Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center, we stopped at Sulfur Works to see (and smell, ack!) some big sulfur pots. It was super interesting, although a little unpleasant when a big poof of sulfury steam gets right up your nose.
I made the boys pose for a picture.
I don’t have any pictures from the visitor center but we had a great time there. It’s very well done, with good activities for the kids and a beautiful setting. The boys really did a lot of work for their Junior Ranger badges this time. Here they are being “sworn in.”
They got cool badges with the notation that it’s the National Park centennial this year.
On the way back north to our campsite, we stopped at Emerald Lake at my request. The lakes just looked so inviting and I had to stick my feet in. Finn was too worn out so he waited in the car, but Ezra was game.
That evening we went to a ranger-led activity at our campground, which was a very interesting presentation about all sorts of living things that have behind-the-scenes functions in the forest that are vital to its survival. The ranger did a great job involving all the kids in the audience and it was a fun presentation. I didn’t take any photos during the presentation, but here are a few from our walk over to the amphitheater.
The next morning we had avocado toast for breakfast …
… and then packed up our site and headed for home. A year ago I’d never heard of Lassen, but it was so spectacular I would highly recommend it for anyone looking to visit one of our National Parks.