The Knitting Nurse

Rambles and Travels

Northern CA Tour – Part One of ? – Walking on Volcanoes

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As promised, here starts the telling of a week-long trip past.  The original itinerary called for WA and OR.  Reality wakened my senses and I shortened the drive.   A lot.  The route left Santa Barbara, headed to Lassen Volcanic National Park up by Redding, veered west to the tippy-top of CA in Crescent City and wound down the coast to  just north of San Francisco (and soon to be my new back yard.) Lots of miles but each worth the beauty and newness my little brain  soaked up.  A germinating seed, this trip was waiting to sprout.

I headed to Lassen Volcanic National Park. It is quiet, few people were there, one could find solitude.  So gorgeous with history to share and oh, the geology!

106,000 acres are home to all four types of volcanoes as well as active hydrothermal areas.  Lassen peak went boom in 1914, 1915 and 1917, the changes to the landscape obvious and educational pieces for the park. The NPS link above has great pics of the eruption.  The west end of the park is home to this peak as well as lava flows, steam vents and mud pots, glaciated canyons and snow fields at higher elevations. (Lassen Peak tops at 10,000+ feet though once much taller.)  The east end differs greatly being a lava plateau, one mile above sea level, and home to shield volcanoes, cinder cones and pine and fir forests.

Taking in the calm beauty of the park made me ponder the violence of the force exerted from within that shaped the land.

Part of the Ring of Fire, this area is on the southern tip of the Cascades.

Formed 27,000 years ago, Lassen Peak is a PLUG DOME volcano.  Unfortunately, the trail to the top was closed.

A caldera from past eruptions spreads out with smaller peaks marking its edges.  More than 30 volcanic domes erupted, in the park, in the last 300,000 years.

What are the prospects for further eruptions in the park?  Scientists consider the park’s volcanism “episodic,” meaning there are long stretches between large eruptions (the last one being 1,000 years ago and the one previous 27,000 years earlier) and more frequent smaller eruptions (centuries to millenia apart, the last in 1914-17.) Seismometers, gas compositions and ground deformation are just a few indicators monitored in watch for future activity.

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BUMPASS HELL is a 16 acre span of hydrothermal activity come alive at the surface of the earth.  Hiking to it one can smell the gasses well in advance.

A boardwalk keeps you safe from the fragile ground and scalding water that lurks below.  The man who discovered the spot actually lost a leg to a bad burn, if I remember correctly.

Fumaroles (steam and volcanic gasses), bubbling mud pots and uber-hot surface water create a stark, steamy, yet pretty in a non-conventional way scene. Steam has been measured at 322 degrees farenheit. Yowsa!  I have a great little film of some activity but can’t get it onto this blog.  :  (

That wrapped up the day with one of the most fascinating hiking experiences I’ve ever had the next day.  More on that next post.

One thought on “Northern CA Tour – Part One of ? – Walking on Volcanoes

  1. Pingback: Northern CA Tour Part 3 of ? – Tippy-Top of a Lighthouse on the Tippy-Top of CA « (Nomadic) Knitting Nurse

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