Saturday, July 10, 2010

LASSEN VOLCANIC NATIONAL PARK

8 July

We know how to enjoy ourselves!  After the rather fraught drive yesterday we wound down today by defrosting the fridge and doing the laundry, hit Safeways and then hunkered down in the trailer as the grey storm clouds gathered on the rising wind in the afternoon.  I did venture out to put Bertha through a wavy wand car wash to remove the thick and cloying dust from yesterday's terror drive and fill up with diesel, but that was about it!  It never did rain, but it was very heavy and humid and we were exceedingly grateful for the airconditioning.  Easy meal again tonight; Jamie Oliver's pork with fennel (Sweet anise they call it here) - scrummy!  By early evening, it had cooled down sufficiently to sit outside and shoot the breeze before the midges began to make us part of the food chain!  I hate midges!!

9 July

We checked on the internet to find that Lassen Volcanic National Park was now open as the snow had been cleared and off we went after breakfast.  The skies were full of veils of grey rain falling from blackened clouds over the mountains as we headed directly for them - but Lassen is what we came to Susanville to see so we carried on.  We were glad we did.  It was 65 miles to the entrance along beautifully graded roads swinging through the usual pines, by lakes and high meadows crossed by the ruler like railway track - at over 5000 feet.  We had a spit and a spot of rain, but sunshine predominated - hot sunshine.  The only hold up was the rolling road block of a police escorted wide load which we must have followed for over 20 miles, but we were in no hurry and it was doing up to 50 mph - and no, we couldn't pass as the police escort made it perfectly clear!  We finally got to Lassen and in the visitor centre discovered a bit about the place.  Apparently "On May 22, 1915, an explosive eruption at Lassen Peak, the southernmost active volcano in the Cascade Range, devastated nearby areas and rained volcanic ash as far away as 200 miles to the east. This explosion was the most powerful in a 1914-17 series of eruptions that were the most recent to occur in the Cascades prior to the 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens. Lassen Peak is the largest of a group of more than 30 volcanic domes erupted over the past 300,000 years in Lassen Volcanic National Park."
 You would not have thought too much of a park would exist after that, but 95 years later, the trees were growing back in the "devastation area" almost so you would not have known an explosion had taken place.  On a short trail, information  boards were placed next to rocks describing them, and on some, reproductions of original photographs of that rock in that place 95 years ago being "too hot to touch" - fascinating!  Mount Lassen dominated the skyline from almost wherever we drove through the park; its lava grey scree slopes wreathed in sheets and ribbons of startling white snow accentuating the harshness of the landscape.  The pine lined road gradually climbed and climbed into the snow line and it was then possible to see in places why the park had only opened the day before. In places the cleared banks of snow towered some 12 feet above us and parked in laybys were the snow clearing machines, still with chains on their wheels.  Every corner we turned revealed a more stunning view across a landscape of hills, lakes and forests; darkened by the storm clouds and curtains of rain.  We stayed in brilliant, and surprisingly hot, sunshine.  Our picnic lunch over, I took on the driving duties for home, but not until we'd passed snow sculpted by melting water,
Helen Lake semi frozen to aquamarine blues, waterfalls tumbling everywhere, children playing on the snow slopes with their plastic sleds and the long scenic descent from the 8000+ feet winding down through panoramic view after view.  It was absolutely stunning and well worth the 165 mile round trip.  Our journey back was a bit of an anticlimax as we had driven it before on our trip to Lake Almanor and we were both very tired by the time we got back to the trailer.  A beer revived us for the BBQ steak (the best we've managed so far!) as the wind rose and rose, the skies grew heavier and enormous flecks of rain kept threatening but not delivering.  We hunkered down, Fiona nursing her midge bitten swollen ankles, me just reading and looking out the window at the changing weather.  With darkness falling, we were treated to the most spectacular curtain of colour, like cutting into a blood orange, as the sun reddened the storm clouds gradually sweeping over us in a fierce wind.  Our evening peace was also disturbed by sirens, and the arrival of a fire engine, paramedic and police car at our neighbour's site.  Lights flashing and stretchers - it was all over in 15 minutes and we no real idea what it was all about.  Ah well, moving on tomorrow.  It seems no time at all since we got here and wondering what we would do with ourselves - it has shot by!

1 comment:

  1. Chris and Clive are green with envy but haven't the energy to let any manifestation of it show! It's too blooming hot here. Today we are having an easy noncomplicated lunch of fish n chips, couresy M&S would you believe? We have TWO lamp posts, one of which is awaiting transport to the Land of Spent Stuff, so something new there. Now we are awaiting pics from Tour de France, courtesy Sky, Lance Armstrong et al.(Capone?I think not) DO HOPE THAT ALL IS WELL, HAVE NOT HEARD ANYTHING FROM YOU FOR SEVERAL DAYS. hugs

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