Sunday, July 06, 2003

I had a nice time at Lassen. I was camping with Gay and Lesbian Sierrans and had signed up to lead a couple of hikes: one on Friday and one on Saturday. I did not have a nice time on the drive to Lassen: the traffic was awful despite leaving the SF bay area at noon. I got stuck on highway 680 and highway 80 for an hour. When I finally reached highway 5, the traffic was normal and I sped along at 70 mph. When I got close to Lassen I had troubles finding the Butte Lake road. The directions were not accurate and said to look for the road 44 miles from Redding on highway 44. So at 44 miles I started looking and slowing down at every dirt road I saw. It turns out the road was 70+ miles away not 44. After turning onto the Butte lake road, it turned out to be a dirt road and much of it was wash board. I finally arrived at the campground at 7:30 p.m. I found a nice spot for my tent and unpacked my stuff and sat and talked with C. and C. and then heading to bed around 9:30 p.m. Friday I led a hike to Prospect Peak. It was a 6.6 mile hike with 2300 feet of elevation. It started on the Cinder Cone nature trail. I only got 2 folks signed up (A. and C.) for the hike but that was cool as it is much easier to lead smaller groups than large ones. C. grabbed a nature trail description brochure as we started the trail. Fortunately she noticed that the Prospect Peak trail took off at stop number 9. If I hadn't know that I would have walked right by the trail. Fallen trees blocked the trail and the trail was not very obvious, but after wandering about a bit, C. saw a reflector on a tree and we figured that was a trail marker. We started the long uphill slog to Propsect Peak. It was a very steady uphill with no real steep parts. We took our time going up. It took a while to get to the top. We stopped for lunch just before the top as C. and A. needed to refuel. Both were quite tired. Lunch perked them up and we hiked the last little bit to the top of Prospect Peak. We found the peak marker and a peak log in a metal can. We got out the log and signed it. The views from the top were awesome. We could see Mount Shasta, Mount Lassen, Snag Lake, and the Cinder Cone. There was a snow melt lake at the top too (Prospect Peak is an old volcano so actually has a depression on the top which is where the lake was located). We took photos of each other standing in front of the lake and next to a patch of snow that was still not melted. Then we headed back down the trail and back to camp. It was much easier going down and we just flew down. We got into camp at 4 p.m. and had a nice time talking about the hike and all sorts of other stuff.

Friday night was potluck night. It took a while to get the potluck started. The food was good though and worth the wait. I went to my tent around 9 to do some reading before going to sleep. It was nice to sit in my cozy tent and read a good book while listening to the happy sounds of folks enjoying a camp fire after the potluck. I stopped reading at 10:30 p.m. and roused myself to make a visit to the bathroom. I returned to my tent and snuggled into my sleeping bag and fell asleep.

Saturday I led a hike to the Cinder Cone. The trail was easy to find for this hike. It is an extremely popular hike in the Butte Lake area of Lassen Volcanic National Park. This time I was leading a group of 4 and I had a coleader. We hiked to the cone and hiked around the back of the cone to come up the steep path in the back. We didn't know it was steep till we got there though. It was a beautiful hike going around to the back of the cone. You could see the beautiful brown orangy dunes up close. We all made it up to the top of the cone OK. It was quite a haul but worth it. The top of the cone is cool (another depression inside). This cone has very little vegetation on it and the hike up it is mostly on gravel that slips as you hike up it. At the top you could see Mt. Lassen, Mt. Shasta, Prospect Peak, Butte Lake and Snag Lake. We had lunch on top and got to witness a ranger at work. He came up to us and asked us to move to another area for lunch as he was about to site a group of people making their way up the trail for having gone off trail on the dunes below. We saw him give the tickets at a distance and the folks getting the tickets didn't make a ruckus or anything. They just took their tickets after, I imagine, a scolding from the ranger. We saw them later on the way down. They seemed to have managed to not let the ticket spoil their fun. I had a ball going down the Cinder Cone trail. We went down the front trail. It was wider and less steep than the back trail. I found it easy to bound down the trail as the gravel softened the landing on my legs and feet. I ran down the last of the trail. While waiting for the rest of the folks to descend three of us were standing under a tree for shade when we were suddenly enveloped by a dust devil (a little dust tornado). It was wild. It really blew hard. The sand hitting my legs felt like lots of little needle pricks. I put my back to the wind but the direction of it changed as it blew past and I had to quickly cover my face with my hat. The other two managed to get some shelter from the tree trunk. It was over pretty quick. The other folks said it was wild seeing the dust devil go over us. I thought it was a cool if slightly painful experience. The rest of the hike was uneventful. When we got back to the campground, I said goodbye to everyone and started the drive home.

The drive home was better than the drive there, but I was still frustrated to run into some traffic on highway 80. However, I made it home in 6 hours instead of 7.5 hours. I got home at 8 p.m. and took a hot shower. After the shower, there was a little pile of sand in the bathrub. That dust devil got sand all over me, especially in my hair. I had to wash my hair twice to get it all out. It was a very pleasurable camping trip at Lassen with two interesting and fun hikes and good company.