Ok, all right. So we have climbed up onto a volcano but we haven’t seen all the park had to offer, oh no, not at all! One of the spectacles of the park is Bumpass Hell – a valley where the ground comes to life, quite literally.
We decide not to cook any breakfast or have a fire to warm ourselves up, instead, we quickly pack our things – that warms us up enough – and thinking about buying some breakfast on the go, we leave the campground and our friendly ranger behind in a cloud of dust.
After leaving Google Maps just rest because they are lost completely, we navigate using only what we remembered; numbers of roads. One wrong turn and about 40 miles later, we manage to make it to the entrance of the park and stop by in a ranger station.
I change my t-shirt and finally put on a bra (yes, I didn’t do so in the morning – don’t blame me, it’s a horribly uncomfortable thing!) – trying to do so in a cramped space in the car (with Ella holding an oversized hoodie around me so nobody can see me naked) requires quite a few good acrobatic skills.
But I somehow manage not to dislocate my shoulder and we can go, following the “Highway to Hell”. Unfortunately, I don’t have any service here so we cannot play this song on YouTube. And it’s not a highway anyway, so…
If there’s really a hell at the end of the road, the way to get there goes through heaven. There are colourful flowers everywhere, from deep blue to vivid red, from shiny yellow to mild purple, orange, and white and everything is green. Tall green grass growing on small hidden meadows and amongst young green trees, green lichen hugging the wet brown bark of these.
When we climb to a higher elevation and the vegetation almost disappears, we can see loads of snow still clinging onto the bare grey-brown rocks. We’re driving up the side of Lassen Peak, the very same mountain we adored yesterday from the top of Cinder Cone.
Quite lucky to find a parking spot, we leave our beloved vehicle behind and set off on the path leading to hell. It is said that the path to hell is smooth but this is surely not the case as we go over some pretty tricky rocks and along a cliff falling quite a few hundred feet down into a valley full of flowers. Not that the flowers would help in any way if we fell down there…
It is quite cold and windy and I’m glad for my sweatshirt. I’d bring my jacket but I forgot it in the hostel at Lake Tahoe. Yep, nothing has changed, it’s still the same old me, forgetting everything everywhere.
After about twenty or thirty minutes, we catch first glimpses of Bumpass Hell! And wow, it looks hella cool (pun intended – sorry, I’m not sorry).
Walking down the path, I can’t help but to think about that I’ll have to walk it back up. Oh no…
Soon enough we reach the bottom of the valley, the air around us so hot that we gladly take off our sweatshirts. I can’t believe that the difference in temperatures is so big, but, after all, we’re basically just walking over a boiling pot of mud and sulfur so, of course it’s much warmer here. And it smells quite unpleasantly, too, like rotten eggs… Well, sulfur…
Right off the bat, the first thing that I see and am taken by surprise a bit by, is a stream of water leaving the valley – but I only guess it’s water because it’s completely milk-white with a bit of grey-ish hue.
A small hill on our left is completely covered in magnesium – it looks and feels exactly like that thing you put on your hands when you exercised on rings or bars in your PE class at school, so I assume it’s this stuff. From that tiny hill, we can see the whole valley, covered in white and light beige and yellow and vivid brick-like orange and light grey with steam being swung by the mild wind.
Walking there, we can get closer to all the natural wonders. There are mud volcanoes, boiling bright turquoise pools of water enriched by many and many different elements, the ground looks solid but numerous signs warn us that it, in fact, is not and that if we try to step on it, our leg will fall through the thin crust and get boiled in just a few seconds in the hell that is hidden under.
There is a scary amount of steam escaping through different, sometimes almost invisible crevices in the rock and from the boiling mud and water. There is the ubiquitous smell of rotten eggs. The sun, shining high above in the sky and reflecting from the bright rocks make the air so hot that I feel like I can’t stand it anymore.
It’s amazing. I feel threatened by the inexplicable power hiding just a few inches under my feet and can’t stop thinking about if I would have any time to even realize what is happening if this whole area was to erupt (the fact that it probably wouldn’t happen exactly here is not calming me at all).
It’s time for us to leave and so we say our goodbyes to this dangerously beautiful place and start climbing the hill.
Driving down the side of the mountain and leaving the park, I can’t help but to feel a bit sad. Even though I’ve never heard about Lassen Volcanic before, I fell in love with it. This place is amazing and I think it deserves much more to be said about it, many more people to be interested in how the area was created, how it all works there. On the other hand, it’s probably good that it doesn’t get thousands and thousands of visitors as it’s quite fragile and more people coming in equals more irresponsible people coming in too and that could have fatal consequences.
We catch last beautiful views during an almost 60-mile stretch on road 36 and then, following I-5 for over 170 miles, we make our way back home.
And that is a wrap on our little road trip.
Hope you enjoyed following us along the way and I can’t wait to see you back here again! (A little secret just for you; there’s an epic road trip being planned for June 2018, this time with my parents who have never done anything so crazy and my “little” sister who is, in fact, an adult but I can’t stop seeing her as “my little sister” – does anyone else have this problem or is it just me? 😀 )
The previous Our-Little-Road-Trip article is HERE.
And have a wonderful day! 🙂
All the articles from this road trip: