I gotta be honest: I was “meh” about coming to Lassen Volcanic National Park. I’ve always planned to visit as many national parks as possible on my trip (and California has a host of them!), but driving east for Lassen felt a little like going through the motions to cross something off my list…and then I saw the park. And. Oh. My. Goodness. It’s amazing!!!!
I came in from the northwest and had reservations to camp south of the park so I “accidentally” drove the full length of it Monday night, and at every turn I was truly in awe. Where I was expecting volcanic destruction, I found massive pines. Where I was expecting rocks and outer-space-ish-ness, I found lush meadows and streams. Still, even the geological and biological evidence of the 1915 eruption blows my mind. I’ve never been a sign-reader (brings back memories of childhood “vacations” to museums), but I’ve soaked up every bit of information I can. I even watched the introduction film in the Visitor’s Center, from which I learned that the area’s native tribe – the Mountain Maidu – called the peak Kohm Yah-Mah-Nee, which means “Snow Mountain.” Naturally, it’s been renamed after a white guy [eye roll], but I’m determined to remember its original name.
Tuesday, I hiked Mill Creek Falls (the scenery was like something out of a Pixar film, proving Mother Nature to be the greatest animator of all), Lake Mazanita (flat, boring hike with an iconic view of the peak), and the “Devastation Area” (a site three miles from the explosion where many of the rocks settled after the blow) and drove through the expanse of the park twice more. That night I decided a day in the park wasn’t enough!
And then there’s my accomodations. I’m staying at a “resort” (with cabins as well as camping sites) operated by the loveliest couple, close my age. In their “general store,” they serve amazing hand-scooped milkshakes…and I’ve heard the hamburgers are delicious as well. There are coin-operated showers, a washer and dryer, and pit toilets (I feel spoiled!!), and a rushing creek runs through the middle. My experience has been so lovely that I can’t leave it behind just yet. For just a little longer, I’m going to settle in.