During the last Labor Day weekend, we went to Lassen Volcanic National Park. It was established as a National Park in 1916 and is an active volcanic area - the last eruption was from 1914 to 1917.
It always makes me tired to get out of the Bay Area on a Friday afternoon; roads are full of cars and bumper-to-bumper. But the real difficulty of the day was not traffic; we had the head advisory during the day. When we left our home (Palo Alto), it was around 90F: a little hot but surely manageable. After three hours of driving, we stopped at a rest area on I-5. When I opened the car door, I felt hit by a giant hot air punch. It was something like I was inside a dryer. I saw the thermometer of the car, and it was 110F. There was a street stall, and we thought it would be an ice cream shop. But, it was a kind of fruit cup, and we tried it. I couldn't say that it suited my taste, but at least the cool cucumber with spicy spices helped us endure the heat.
We (my family and a colleague's family) rent an AirBnB place. It was below 90F there, maybe because it was in the mountain area. The place was spacious, well-equipped, and well-managed, and we could have wonderful two days. The location was super convenient; it only took about 20 minutes to the Park entrance. The only disappointment was there was no WiFi, and cellular reception was very sporadic. But no reception was rather a blessing of nature if we could be there without worrying about the work.
On the second day (day 1 in the park), we headed to Bumpass Hell trail. We heard that it was the most iconic trail in the park, so we left early in the morning. We arrived around 8:30 am, and the parking lot was vacant. I believe moving early in the morning is always the right answer in the National Park. The name Bumpass Hell was from Kenall Bumpass, who lost his leg when he fell onto the crust. The park information said it was about 3 miles (go and back) and took about one and a half hours. But you'd better expect 2~3 hours if considering resting and sightseeing. The trail was moderate with a gentle slope. The way winding around the ridge presents us with a fantastic view of the park.
Bumpass Hell was a hydrothermal area. There were geysers. It looked like a petite Yellowstone (though I haven't been there yet). It was my first time visiting a hydrothermal area. The jade geyser was beautiful, but boiling mud pots and the growling ground made me a bit scared. When we returned to the parking lot after the trail (around 11 am), the lot was full, and many cars were lined up along the road. There were so many people, but it was unlike many of the peak-time Yosemite. Parking lots were quite limited everywhere, but usually, roadside parking was reasonably allowed along Highway 89.
Manzanita Lake was a calm and beautiful lake. Next to a campground (and the campground had the only place to fill the gas tank.), many people were enjoying the waterside, paddling canoes, but no one was swimming - it seemed that the water was too chilly to swim. We hiked along the lake shore and found an excellent vista point - the Lassen Peak resided on the water's still surface. We also visited another small lake next to Manzanita Lake: Reflection Lake. It was not like the mirror image of Mirror Lake of Yosemite. But it reflected the peak as its name; I was sorry that it would've been better if the peak kept a little more white veil.
Lake Hellen was named after Hellen Tanner Brodt, who was the first woman to climb Lassen Peak. The water was so deep blue, and still. We had a pleasant time with skipping stone. There was another lake right next to Lake Helen: Emerald Lake. Unlike Lake Hellen, the water had an emerald color.
Sulphur Works was our last visit of this trip. It was right after passing Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center. It was a small but popular place to see the energetic boiling mud pot.
It was another excellent trip to the US National Park, and I could add one more bumper sticker. The next will be this Thanksgiving. I hope the evil climate change will not spoil it before I get there.