My visit to Lassen Volcanic National Park on a trip south to visit family.

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I left Vancouver for southern California and my first overnight stop was Lassen Volcanic National Park in northern California. As the name implies it’s major features are volcanic in origin. Being the southern most volcano of the Cascade Range the prominent features of the park are the largest plug volcano in the world, Lassen Peak and it’s sulfur – thermal hot springs.

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Originally two separate National Monuments dedicated in 1907 by Theodore Roosevelt, Cinder Cone and Lassen Peak National Monuments were declared Lassen Volcanic National Park in 1916.

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I arrived late in the afternoon after an 8 1/2 hour drive and set up camp at Manzanita Lake Campground located in the northern section of the park. Then I proceeded to walk the loop trail around Manzanita Lake, ate dinner and enjoyed a nice campfire before retiring to my tent to read and fall asleep.

 

Accessible by five vehicle entrances the majority of visitors enter either from the north or south along State Route 89, named the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway or Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway, off State route 44 in the north and 89 from the south. Three unpaved roads enter the park but do not connect with the main road through the park, Highway 89.

The north-south 29-mile (46.6k) road, Highway 89, was constructed between 1925 and 1931. The road summit is the highest in the Cascades topping at 8,512 feet (2,594 m). This road is closed in the winter months due to snow, which can reach 40 feet (12.2m) deep.

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Early morning along the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway

 

I got up early, had a quick breakfast and packed up to head south along Route 89 to visit the sites of the park. It was very interesting stopping at the many informative signs along the road to read the history of the park.

 

The last minor to major eruption started in 1914 and lasted until 1921 creating a new crater on Lassen Peak. Releasing ash and lava it fortunately did not kill anyone. This eruption covered many miles of forestlands with landslides and the new growth forest today stands many feet above the old forest floor. These landslides also created Manzanita Lake as it damned Manzanita Creek.

The first blast was on May 19, 1915 and was said to be a night to remember with it’s steam explosion and subsequent mudflows. Had it not been for Elmer Sorahan many people might have died but he ran 3 miles (4.8k) to warn others after escaping the explosion.

 

Three days later on May 22, 1915 another explosion on Lassen Peak threw ash, pumice, rock and gas into the air that was more devastating to the area than the first. The pressure in the mountain built up like a lid on a boiling pot of water and finally blew. You can now explore this area on a ½ mile (0.8k) loop trail or take the strenuous 2,000 foot (609.6m) 5 mile (8k) round trip hike to the top of 10,457 foot (3,187m) Lassen Peak. Many other hiking opportunities exist in the park along with backpacking, auto-touring, bird watching, camping skiing, skiing, snow play, and snowshoeing.

There are 5 hydrothermal areas to explore within the park. Sulphur Works, Bumpass Hell, Devils Kitchen, Boiling Springs Lake and Thermal Geyser. I am limiting myself to 2 for this trip.

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My first hydrothermal area would have been the hike out to Bumpass Hell Hydrothermal Area, a moderate 3 mile (4.8k) round trip hike. This is the largest hydrothermal area of the park with temperatures of up to 322 degrees F (161 degrees C). I had done this hike with my kids back in the early 1990’s although I found the trail closed this season for maintenance of the trail and boardwalk through the 2018 season.

My next stop was Sulphur Works, a formation of mudpots, steam vents and boiling springs located right off the main road. This hydrothermal area in near the center of a massive composite volcano that collapsed many thousands of years ago. Mount Tehama or Brokeoff Mountain was estimated to be 1,000 feet (304m) higher than Lassen Peak. Active 400,000 to 600,000 years ago it is estimated to be nearly 11 miles (17.7k) across and had towered to 11,500 feet (3,505k).

 

My final stop was the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center at the south entry of the park to visit the small museum learning the history of the park, peoples and area and had a nice talk with the Rangers.

Now for the long 8 hour drive down the east side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains along State highway 395 to the BLM area of Alabama Hills outside of Lone Pine, CA.

PLANNING PART 3 – Leaving Dawson for Skagway, AK and home

Lets go on an Adventure

ADVENTURE – An exciting, daring, bold, risky or very unusual experience or undertaking fraught with physical, financial or psychological risks.

Any ideas of what to visit in the areas I am traveling would be appreciated, not all sites are noted somewhere, secret spots abound. And if you share these secret spots with me to enjoy I will not post where they are but will relish in the beauty around me and be grateful you trust me with this shared this information.

 

Leaving Dawson I will ferry across the Yukon River, A major waterway in this area that is the 3rd longest river in the U.S. Heading west along Canadian Highway 9 to the border crossing into Alaska Crossing at a small border station I shall continue along Highway 5, The Taylor Highway, to pass Chicken, AK and finally end at the junction with Highway 2, The Alaskan Highway, to head southeast.

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Crossing back into Canada I will continue then south along Canadian Highway 1 to visit Destruction Bay and Kluane National Park and Reserve.

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Kluane Lake from Google

Not much further I will turn at Haines Junction on Highway 3 toward the city of Haines, AK. I understand Haines Highway is a very scenic drive and is a perfect road to take on my way to the Alaska Marine Highway Ferry to Skagway, AK.

 

I have always enjoyed my time in Skagway with the cruises but have never stayed longer than 6-8 hours. I cannot wait to relax and explore the town after the cruise ships have departed. For 2 nights I will stay in this town to explore the many sites I have been rushed through or not been able to see.

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From this point of the adventure south I have not been lucky in finding many sites to visit. If anyone has driven these roads please let me know about interesting or scenic places along the route.

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After this short respite I will head north up the Klondike Highway back into Canada and again turn east around Carcroos onto Highway 8 to Highway 1 then south on Highway 97. Visiting Salmon Glacier – Granduc Mine then turning off onto Highway 26, I will visit the living history museum of Barkerville.

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Barkerville from Google

“Today, the extraordinary town of Barkerville (named in Billy’s honour) still stands as testament to BC’s golden beginnings. With a unique streetscape of 125+ heritage buildings, authentic displays, satellite museums, restaurants, shops and accommodations there is still so much to explore. Declared a National Historic Site of Canada in 1924 and a Provincial Heritage Property in 1958, Barkerville is now the largest living-history museum in western North America, where exciting seasonal events and fun-filled daily activities await.” from Barkerville Historic Town website.

Returning back to Highway 97 I will visit some of the Provincial Park’s scattered along this Highway and then turn toward Kamloops, British Columbia to explore Highway 5A, I hear it is one of the areas scenic motorcycle roads.

I will enter back into the United States at Abbotsford and head down Interstate 5 to Vancouver, WA for another stop to visit my son and family before heading back south to Southern California along the Washington, Oregon and California coast, Highway 101.

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There you have it a 45 day long adventure that I am looking forward to.

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Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks trip August 2017 Day 4 part 1

Here are some excerpts from people who explored the region now known as Yellowstone. Which do you find realistic? Which do you find fantastical?

“At length we came to a boiling Lake about 300 foot in diameter forming nearly a complete circle as we approached on the South side. The steam which arose from it was of three distinct Colors from the west side for one third of the diameter it was white, in the middle it was pale red, and the remaining third on the east light sky blue. Whether it was something peculiar in the state of the atmosphere the day being cloudy or whether it was some Chemical properties contained in the water, which produced this phenomenon. I am unable to say and shall leave the explanation to some scientific tourist who may have the Curiosity to visit this place at some future period—The water was of deep indigo blue boiling like an immense cauldron running over the white rock which had formed [round] the edges to the height of 4 or 5 feet from the surface of the earth sloping gradually for 60 or 70 feet. What a field of speculation this presents for chemist and geologist.”—Osborne Russell, 1839

“One geyser, a soda spring, was so effervescent that I believe the syrup to be the only thing lacking to make it equal a giant ice cream soda of the kind now popular at a drugstore. We tried some experiments with our first discovery by packing it down with armfuls of grass; then we placed a flat stone on top of that, on which four of us, joining hands, stood in a vain attempt to hold it down. In spite of our efforts to curb Nature’s most potent force, when the moment of necessity came, Old Steam Boat would literally rise to the occasion and throw us all high into the air, like so many feathers.”—William Clark Kennerly, 1843

This day it would be just my son and I exploring Yellowstone, as the rest of the group have scheduled a boat at a local lake.

Yellowstone Day 4a-3Leaving at 7:30AM we head for the upper (northern) loop in the park as we first want to visit the Mammoth Hot Springs area, then work our way back south. Passing Norris Geyser Basin for later in the day or tomorrow we continue clockwise on the east side of the loop. We soon encounter a major road construction project going on. There must have been at least 8 plus miles (13 km) of broken pavement and dirt one-lane road to travel before we are back on the 2-lane asphalted roadway.

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