It's funny how things work out. I've been wanting to get back up to Lassen National Park and really explore the place closer. I've been through there a dozen or so times but its always been just riding through. Sure, I'd stop and see the spots right on the road, but I don't think I've ever been in the park for more than a few hours at most, usually a lot less. I just don't feel like I've really experienced a place unless I've witnessed a sunset or sunrise there.
Just North of Lassen is Burney Falls, another place on my list to see. Again, I've been within a few miles of it numerous times but for some reason I was always rushing and thought I didn't have time to stop, and I'm kind of glad I didn't as I probably wouldn't have given it the time it deserves. I've known about it since I was a teenager as I had some friends who spent a week there every summer. I was often invited but just never made it. Through the miracle of Facebook I've recently reconnected with these same friends, and now they are taking their kids up to Burney for a week every summer. I was once again invited, and this time I didn't hesitate to say I'll be there. After twenty something years the time has finally come.
Time to ride. Four days exploring a route that not long ago I would have done in a day or two. I'm hoping to get more out of it this time. Thursday morning I'm on the road early, headed north I'm making time straight up the central valley. Just in time to be in the middle of the Sacramento commute, trying my patience a little it was just enough to remind me of why I needed to get away.... instant attitude change. In no time I was in Oroville, about to travel the Feather River Canyon. I figured if I was at work I'd be taking break right about now, man I love riding on weekdays.
The feather River Canyon is a marvel of nature and engineering. Railroad buffs will love all of the trestles crossing the river numerous times, and the many hydro electric projects have an amazing system of dams on the river. Gaining elevation slowly one of the first views to catch my eye is where the highway crosses the river with the railroad crossing below.
I couldn't decide which photo I like better so you're stuck looking at both of them.
Closer to the River, every bend opens up into new views. I was set on getting to Lassen by mid day but I had to stop a few times, I really think I'll come back in the fall and spend an entire day just trippin this canyon.
This time the railroad crosses over the highway.
Made a quick stop in Mineral for lunch, and I purchased a room for the evening. I was less than 10 miles from the park, not a bad base for the next day.
Entering the park one is immediately greeted with a perfect set of corners, probably some of my favorite in any national park. Tight enough to do the full tilt boogie, smooth enough from lack of use, and lonely enough that law enforcement is not breathing down your neck. If this doesn't make you lean a little just looking at it I'd have to question if you really even ride.
Soon I'm at the trailhead for Bumpass Hell, one of the things that was a must do for this ride. A 3 mile hike round trip I've always passed, but have always been intrigued by, I'm finally going to do it. In the parking area I quickly do something very UN- ADV and change into some hiking boots and shorts, after years of changing clothes in the pits of the racetrack I'm not really shy, and I thought it was kind of funny watching people look away a bit embarrassed as I sat there in my skivies
Yep, that's me on the trail to Bumpass Hell. Note that I did wear my Touratech cap, so this is still officially moto related.
As I round a bend for the final descent into Hell, I see the most amazing overview of the place.
I can only imagine what the early explorers thought. Reading into history I saw where easterners thought the stories of this place where water and mud boils,with steam vents and the overwhelming smell of sulfur, were folklore like dragons at sea. The place is named after Mr. Bumpass who fell through the crust into boiling mud and lost a leg due to the severe burns, can you possibly think of more irony than a man named "Bumpass" doing this, except maybe if there was a Mr. "Falls into boiling mud"? These are the strange thoughts I have as I hike.
Looking back up the hill I just hiked down.
Yes, that mud is boiling.
I should have brought some Top Ramen.
From one of the observation areas there was a closed trail with a sign saying it was a federal offense to go past the sign. Didn't take me long going back up the main trail to figure out I could walk down without "seeing" the sign. The condition of this old footbridge is probably part of the reason, and let me tell you, that standing on it you better watch your step. Hey, I'm not out crashing bikes this day so lets just call it adventure photography, O.K.?
After a good 4 hours of enjoying the moment I begin the hike back up. Most folks are long gone as the sun is getting low, and the peacefulness of the trail is just what I was there for. Just off the trail this scene sums up how I was feeling as the air was getting cool and night was getting closer.
I'd been watching the clouds form all afternoon setting up what I hoped was the perfect scene I needed for my sunset photo.
Back on the bike I knew where I wanted to be at sunset, but I had a little time and felt like a quick ride so I enjoyed the evening air as I went for a run to the north end of the park. Late day light is always spectacular, had to make a quick stop here and take it all in.
On to my sunset spot.
Some memories in life are etched into our mind, and sometimes we're lucky enough to realize that while we are experiencing the moment. This was one of those moments for me. Not a soul in sight as I sat and watched the sky change colors over Helen Lake with Lassen Peak behind it.. These are the moments I live for.
Well after dark I just sat there watching the stars come out. It was really hard to leave, so I didn't for quite awhile. On the bike the road was all mine, I was getting good use out of the Baja Design LED lights to see through the corners. those suckers are so bright I think I stunned the largest Mountain Lion I'd ever seen as it was in the road in front of me, the big cat looked a bit dazed at it was maybe seeing purple spots stumbling back into the bushes.
Friday morning had me back in the park at early light.
Stopped by the Sulfur Works, interesting thermal activity, right next to the road. More boiling water/mud.
This stuff is not just bubbling, it's like a pot on top of the stove on high. I knew some of you would think I'm full of it so I tried to capture a little on video just so you could see. This is the second time I've done video with this camera, and both examples are in this thread, maybe soon I'll take a minute to learn how to do a better job.
One of the many meadows in the park
Leaving the park around mid day Burney is not that far away. A side attraction I'd seen on the map was listed as the Subway Lava Tubes. The map wasn't clear which highway to use to access them so of course I chose the wrong one first, after turning around I noticed a depression in the volcanic terrain, something I could only see because I was standing on the pegs. Pulling over and walking into the tress I see this.
Not sure what to make of it, looks like a short cave in a small crater, but not much more so I opt not to climb down the 10 foot walls to explore. Interesting. I ride on. Finally I find the official parking listed as a National Forest site and proceed to read about these lava tubes I was about to experience. Turns out this Lava Tube had two cave ins about 1/4 mile apart, which left a nice cave to walk through.
The entrance is a bit ominous.
If you're ever riding through on a hot day this is the place to stop as it's like a refrigerator in there, the temperature drops and it gets DARK. I even stopped once in the middle and turned off my flashlight just to experience seeing nothing. Made me think how much fun it would be to go down there with a mask and stand in a corner, not moving, just waiting for some kid to shine his light across me.
There are different "rooms" that open up with names like Lucifers Cul de sac....I'm not making this stuff up.
On to Burney Falls. I arrive mid afternoon and check into my "rustic" cabin, this would be home for the night. Can you tell I'm getting softer? Seriously , if I'm going to sleep in the dirt it's only so I can wake up miles away from seeing another person in the wilderness, if I'm in a sea of tents I'll take the comfort given the choice.
Off to see the falls. I spent hours there in the evening as well as a 6 am hike. This is the wonder that is Burney Falls.
If you notice, only some of the water is coming over the top from the river, the rest is coming straight out the porous rock from a spring inside the hill. One of the most unique waterfalls I've ever seen, and I live in a state with some awesome waterfalls.
one for the fishermen
First light from the upper observation area
Something magical about the early light
I spent Friday evening and Saturday morning reconnecting with old friends, something I should probably do more of . I originally thought I'd leave Saturday mid morning and maybe head up to Crater Lake or out to the coast, but I wound up hanging by Lake Britton all day with my friends. Next thing I know its 4pm and I'm just starting my ride. I like the feeling of not knowing where I'll be tonight, or exactly where I'm going right this minute. I kept thinking I should take a different route than I came up, but on the flip side I kept thinking I REALLY enjoy Lassen Park. There's no rule that says I can't go back the same way right? So that's what I did.
Got there just in time for some good light on the "Devastated Area", a big pile of rocks from the last explosion in the early 1900s.
It almost felt sad leaving the park that evening, wondering when I'll come back. But finally I feel like I really got to experience the place.