Monday, June 30, 2008

Bumpass Hell 6.31.08

Today we took off on an auto tour of Lassen Volcanic Nat'l Park and hiked Bumpass Hell. Lassen is a crazy place where the landscape changes about every couple miles. You could spend weeks just exploring all of the differences. We started at Manzanita Lake, where we're camping. The lake was created during one of the avalanches 1,100 years ago. We drove through the area, stopping at 'Hot Rock', a 30 ton rock swept there by the 1915 avalanche. It has the 'hot rock' name because 7 days after the avalanche, the mud was still boiling around it, was approx 1000 degrees & took months to cool. Devastated Area was next and gets it's name as the 1915 eruptions transformed this place from a mature forest to a landscape of mud, ash, & rocks. Still today, there are tons of jumbled rocks for the ground with trees growing out of them. A few other stops included Hat Lake, Summit Lake, Kings Creek, Lake Helen, & finally we arrived at the Bumpass Hell trailhead. Bumpass Hell is the most popular hydrothermal feature of Lassen. It has boiling pools,
fumaroles (small ground vent with steam),
mud pots,
& beautiful colors everywhere.
It's amazing. It's what I would imagine the moon looks like! The steam & gas are created when rain & melted snow (yes, there was snow!) percolates down into the earth where the water is superheated by hot rocks or cooling magma.
Water boiling underground results in a high pressure steam & gas reservoir over the top of the heated water. It smelled like sulfur & the water flowing was very warm - like bath water. The part I loved the most was the colors everywhere. When the sulfuric acid is diluted by water, colored iron & magnesium clay, orange brown iron, & other colors appear. It was amazing to be at 8200' elevation, in shorts & tank tops, walking through snow on a sunshiny, 65 degree day. And to imagine volcanic activity right under our feet!! It was quite impressive.

We continued to the 'Sulfur Works' area of the park where we ate PB&J's again and viewed more boiling mud pots & fumaroles.

After our hike & drive we were both exhausted as we got a little too much sun so we headed back to camp. The campsite is covered with a yellow dust & we finally had a chance to ask a Ranger what it's pollen! There's TONS of it!! It's a crazy bright yellow & blankets everything! The park is nice but we're ready to head out tomorrow. We've both been feeling a little low & think it's the smoke in the air from the wildfires. Maybe Reno will cheer us up!!

If we had another day here, I'd definitely love to hike Lassen Peak! Unfortunately the smoke was just too thick and we wouldn't be rewarded with a magnificent view so what's the point?! Another time...

More to follow!!
This guy was just too cute not to share on the slog!!


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