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Tuesday June 17, 2014
Headed out of town up I-5 to Lassen National Park. I graduated from Chico State College and had not been up Hwy 99 in over 30 years so decided to make the trip going up Hwy 99. Lots of changes to the road over 30 years, some places looked the same others looked brand new. I had checked on line and all the reserved campgrounds at Lassen were taken. The web site did say there were some first come sites. Decided to take a chance on getting a spot and found the park was far from full.
We entered the park from the south and were treated to spring time in the Sierra's.
The hills were covered with yellow flowers and the sky was that blue you only see high in the mountains. Puffy white clouds made it picture perfect.
Stopped at the visitors center and found the staff very helpful. Was told finding a camp site would not be a problem. It had been almost 30 years since Veronica and I had been to Lassen NP; that time with our two small girls. Normally this time of the year the road through the park may still be closed and if open would have tall snow banks on the side of the road. Not this year.
The two Summit Lake Campgrounds were closed until June 27th. Guess the NP does not change the dates even if the lake and campgrounds were free of all snow. We stayed at Manzanita Lake campground 30 years ago and remembered it was very crowded. The only other open campground was Crags, we pulled in around 3:00 PM and there was only 3 other campers there. Got our site and set up camp.
Our first time using the new Coleman fold & go grill.
We had a campfire and stayed up watching the stars until 10:00 PM. The temps were dropping and the fire felt good in the cool Sierra night. Turned on the heater and warmed up the camper as we were getting ready for bed. I have a programable thermostat and set it low at night and up at 6:30 AM as our alarm. The heater came on in the middle of the night to warm the inside to 40 degrees, I though how cold is it? Checked the outside thermometer in the morning and saw the temp was 34 degrees. I does get cold in the high Sierra's. The heater coming on was the only noise we heard all night.
Wednesday June 18, 2014Today was our day to see the park. After our normal camping breakfast of yogurt, fruit and a muffin we broke camp and headed to the north end of the park. First we drove through the Manzanita Lake campground, the museum was not open yet. We made the right decision to stay at Crags campground. Manzanita was full of RV's with generators and cords running to them. The spaces were also as close to each other as they could make them. The Loomis Museum was full of information and we learned a lot about the park. One of the great things about National Parks is meeting people from all over the world. We had a nice visit with a family from Switzerland. They were on a 5 month trip. There are things the Europeans do better than the USA and holidays is the main one.
As we walked out to our first hike of the day was saw two people looking at the camper. Asked if we could answer any questions and spent 20 minutes telling then about the camper. We suggested they stop at FWC in Woodland on their way home to the bay area. Now off to a short hike around the lake and to Lilly Pond.
Veronica crossing a log bridge.
We learned the types of lichen on the trees and rocks. I did not know that lichen breaks the rocks down to dirt. The cool morning was going away and it was starting to warm.
Lassen had some great picnic spots and we stopped at one for lunch.
Lunch by a meadow. Note shortly after this picture was taken the mosquitoes arrived and we moved away from the meadow to finish lunch.
Next stop was the Devastated Area, we could really tell how much the area had changed in 30 years from our last visit. Just a short walk around with an audio tour talking about the area.
Here we are sitting on one of the newest rocks in California. Rock was formed 100 years ago when Lassen last erupted.
Next stop the highlight of Lassen NP, Bumpass Hell. As we pulled into the parking lot I spotted a Land Rover Expo vehicle. The owners were not around would have been nice to hear about their trip.
Just a little surprised they did not have a web site on the side of the Land Rover.
30 years ago we did this hike with two little girls. I think I carried one or both of them most of the way. This time just me and Veronica. Not sure how but the trail got a lot steeper in the last 30 years. Really felt the elevation on the hike. On the WTW site one member Ski3pins and his wife post their trip reports about hiking all over the Sierra's. After this only 3 mile hike I know I will not be keeping up with them. Their Blog was my inspiration for building this Travel Blog.
Veronica heading up the trail to Bumpass Hell
Way over there is our truck and camper.
Telephoto shot of the camper in the parking lot
There were 3 deer in a river way below the trail to Bumpass Hell. These were the only deer we saw on the trip.
Finally we arrive at Bumpass Hell. It is the smell that you do not forget. The views were worth the hike. Trail for the most part was full of people coming and going.
The trail going down hill was much shorter that it was walking up hill. The park department web site says "Park trail crews strive to open the trail by Fourth of July weekend each summer, however actual opening dates vary with each year's snow pack." This year you can see how little snow was on the trail.
We stopped for a self portrait, the air was so clean and the sky was so blue. Just a great day in the High Sierra.
Our next stop was the Sulfur Works near the south end of the park. The road cuts right through the middle of the mud pots. The sulfur smell is very strong and if the wind shifts you will move to get away from the smell.
Looking down the valley from the Sulfur Works. This area like others in the park, at one time was a business selling sulfur.
Someone made a rock stack in the parking lot. had to take a picture. I wonder how long it lasted until some one knocked it over.
Part of this trip was a plan to drive the upper part of Hwy 49. I have never been above Nevada City on Hwy 49 and wanted to see what was there. We also had not camped in the Lake Almanor area, so we decided not to drive back into the park to spend the night; we headed south. Got gas in Chester and stopped at the Ranger Station to find out about camping. On their suggestion we drove to the NFS Lake Almanor campground. As we were setting up camp a couple pulled up on a Harley to ask about the camper. They had already been to FWC in Woodland and wanted to talk to an owner, they had a lot of questions.
Our camp for the night at Lake Almanor. Very quite without anyone camping close. We had a campfire and after a day of hiking we slept well that night.
Found a rock to level the camper, did not need to get out the leveling blocks. It was another 35 degree morning and the heater got us up warm and toasty in the morning.
Thursday June 19th, 2014
After breakfast we headed south on Hwy 89 towards Hwy 49. This is an area of California lost in time. Small towns like Greenville look like they came off a postcard. The High Sierra meadows were green and full of cows. As we drove further south around Graeagle starts area the world had discovered. Golf courses and resorts everywhere, big change in less than 50 miles. We drove by the Feather River Inn, it was part of UOP at one time. We stayed there when friends of ours were the UOP summer camp hosts.
As we turned on to Hwy 49 the road stared to climb and there was a scenic overlook. We stopped and spotted a lizard taking in the sun.
The view looking over Sierra Valley out to Nevada.
The drive down Hwy 49 was tight and full of great turns, wish I was on the motorcycle for this part of the trip. The views were fantastic as we went over Yuba Pass and started down the hill. The temperature also started to climb as we lost elevation. This is gold rush country and the small towns of Bassets Station and Sierra City were picture perfect. We stopped at Downieville for lunch. This is a tourist town and we enjoyed looking at their museum and the small shops.
Whiskey was the drink in the gold rush.
Downie river runs through town.
One lane bridge, first come first over the bridge. No lights.
Main Street Downieville.
Had lunch here. Great fish taco.
Our last stop was at XPcampers in Nevada City. The picture below is their small camper just around $40,000 for this camper. Their large camper is around $80,000 the price does not include the truck. Maybe if I win the lottery. I had hoped to meet Andy (Lighthawk) from WTW and he said to give him a call when we got to Nevada City. Unfortunately he was tied up at a job site and could not come by XPcampers. We did have a nice tour of the two campers, the large camper was really nice inside more like a yacht than a camper. From here we headed down I-80 to the valley and 100 degree heat.
We had a great time on our trip to Lassen National Park. Next we want to do Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Our National Parks are a treasure and camping is the way to see them.