October 18, 2015

10/16/15 - Lassen Volcanic NP (Revisited)

Seems to be the year for volcanoes, so continuing the 2015 Dodge Volcano Tour, we headed to Lassen Volcanic National Park.  We'd been here in the spring of 2012, but didn't get to see the whole park because they hadn’t finished clearing the snow on the highway through the park.  We came in from Redding, and only got as far as the Devastated Area before the road was blocked.  This time we drove through Red Bluff and in the southwest entrance.  Roads were clear.  There hadn't been much snow in California lately.

As you can see, no sling. It supported my arm, but really hurt my neck.  I still can't straighten my arm completely, but I'll get there.

First stop was the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center for the ubiquitous passport stamp.  Apparently the VC is named for the Indian name of Lassen Peak, which means Snow Mountain. It's definitely more impressive when there is snow, don't you think?
The first pull-out was at Sulphur Works, so called because that's where the Supan Sulphur Works were from 1865-1952.  There’s a lot of geothermal activity around here. The volcanoes in the park aren't dead, just resting.  Lots of very hot stuff underground.  Fumaroles are steam vents.

A mudpot is an intermediate phase between a fumarole and a boiling spring.  When there’s a lot of rain and snow, the mud gets runny and boils instead of blubs. Must have been wetter here than I realized because this is definitely more of a boil than a blub.  
The yellow stuff is sulfur. As expected, it smells like rotten eggs.  Not that I’ve smelled many rotten eggs.  Of course, since they smell like sulfur, I could probably figure it out. Anyway, it's not a pleasant odor.
It’s a 1.5 mile hike from Lake Helen to Bumpass Hell.  (Don't get cute--that’s pronounced BUMP-uss, not the way you'd expect it be.)  It was named after Kendall Bumpass, who filed claim to the area.  He fell through the crust into a boiling mud pool and ended up losing his leg.  I'm sure he considered the area a very tortuous hell. 

There are big boulders near the parking lot that were carried there by glaciers once upon a time.
The trail’s pretty cool.  These chunks of lava have been here a long time.
They’ve built a lot of boardwalks through Bumpass Hell.  Anything that steams, boils or bubbles is super-hot and will burn.  Signs all over the place tell you to stay on the boardwalks.  The white sulfate crust and the heat kills the trees.
All this stuff used to be lava rock, but sulfuric acid turned it into clay.  It’s been a long time since I took chemistry, but I don’t remember anybody giving a demo like this.
Big Boiler is the hottest fumarole in the world located within a non-erupting volcano.  The steam reaches as high as 322 degrees.  Water boils at 220.  Think about it.
Everything in the park past this section is anticlimactic.

We did stop again at the Devastated Area where they watched Lassen Peak erupt in 1915.  Check out the blog post from 2012 here:  Lassen Volcanic NP 2012

More pictures of this year’s visit here: Lassen Volcanic Natl Park
I’m glad we came back.

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