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Terry & Dave Taylor

Mountain "climbing"

Mineral, California: Today I hiked to the top of Mt. Lassen in Lassen Volcanic National Park! Dave too! (Lisa turned-around at about the halfway point. Lisa asks me to report: “I was dizzy and nauseas and was having symptoms of altitude sickness.”)


Trailhead

We were very lucky to have arrived on a perfect day – though it was a bit warm, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and very little wind at the summit. The hike is quite strenuous. The trailhead is at 8,500 feet elevation and in 2.2 miles you climb to 10,500 feet. Obviously, it is like climbing a flight of stairs – stairs made of loose gravel. It took me over two hours to walk 2.2 miles! (So much for my supposed “training” for this hike – goodness, just think what would have happened if I hadn’t spent the past two month on the treadmill?) I stopped and rested at every switchback. Luckily, a switchback appeared every few feet! My Billy Goat could have run up the trail, but he patiently waited for me and watched Lisa’s decent with the binoculars… always concerned for our safety.


The “devastated area”


Lake Helen from the top of Mt. Lassen


and a little southeast to Lake Almanor - notice the butterflies in the photo

At every point during the hike you have beautiful views of the park and surrounding areas. I saw no wildlife, except for a few ravens and bumblebees. There is little vegetation the last half of the hike – an occasional wildflower desperately clinging to life under a rock. But as we climbed higher, I began to notice a few butterflies, and then they became swarms of butterflies and by the time I reached the summit – far behind DT – we were surrounded by hundreds of thousands of butterflies! They were everywhere! A ranger aid they were mating and came up on the “thermals”, but he had no idea what type of butterflies they were and they wouldn’t hold-still long enough to get a look to identify the species. (They were brown and orange.)


Queen of the Hill


Mt. Shasta in the distance

Just below the summit, a pool is forming from melting snow and hikers were bathing their tired feet – or their entire bodies – in the icy water. The Mt. Lassen Peak hike is very popular for such an arduous trek, and there were about 20 people at the summit. What a great rush to stand on top of Lassen, with 360-degree views, including Mt. Shasta to enjoy. I felt quite accomplished!

Hiking back down Lassen was nearly as difficult as trudging up! The loose rock and steep trail made for a hazardous journey and each step had to be carefully calculated. It was easy to slip and skid a few feet in the gravel – always making my heart skip a beat. (No, that was NOT a reference to Vice President Cheney and his recent procedure at The George Washington University Hospital.) Lisa was patiently waiting at the parking area and we drove back to Goldie – anxious for lunch and cold showers!

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