August 6, 2006
No one called about this fascinating adventure until after I had already left.
A long drive for a short summit?? The drive took seven hours one way. . . the entire climb took me just 3.5 hours, up and down. . . The “climb” is only two Pisgahs (2000 feet), but it is high. . . starting at 8,490 feet (top of Mount Bailey) and ending at 10,453 feet (top of Jefferson). The trail is 2.5 miles to the top, so it is steeper. . . and rougher than Pisgah.
Well, from the parking lot, it LOOKS like more than Pisgah squared. Lassen Peak IS a volcano… a new volcano, formed about 11,000 years ago. The last eruptions were in May of 1915. They were the largest in the US in recorded history. . . until Mount St. Helens. So all this lava is new. . . and rough. . . After just a few steps the thin air is quite apparent!!! The trail reminds me of the final ridge on South Sister, only with a hundred switchbacks. Beside the peak are brilliant turquoise melt pools surrounded by red snow (bacteria). There are fascinating lava formations and informative signs all the way up and even an exposed snow field to cross. White bark pines thrive in protected places up to almost 10,000 feet. The summit crater is a bit smaller than South Sister. The 100 foot summit pinnacle is a class 3 scramble up talus and scree. The 360º views of Shasta and the High Sierras were partly obscured by a fire.
In all, a FUN and “easy” climb for a 10,000 foot Cascade volcano. I took a couple more days to explore the Park. . . a story a lot like Mount Mazama (Crater Lake). Making the climb was the leader, Jim Pierce, in amongst 300 other hikers. . . all ages, sizes, capabilities and nationalities. . .