Tuesday, January 19, 2010
road trip anecdote, lovely Lassen, part one
I had been curious about Lassen Volcanic National Park for years after reading accounts of how few visitors the park gets compared to the wildly popular Yosemite and Sequoia. So we decided to make it the destination for our summer trip in 2009. If you have been reading the previous posts you will have heard the stories about some of our stops along the way, the Bristlecone Pines and Bodie Ghost Town. We try to find things to do along the way on long trips to break up the route and shorten our drive times. We had been traveling for five days before we reached our goal, Lassen. Snow falls well into the summer in Lassen and the main road typically is not open until July 4th. We arrived in early August to find patches of snow still on the ground, and a warning from the ranger at the entrance station that a thunder storm was moving in for the night. The weather had been very good to us up to then, no wind or rain, not too cold (even at 6,000 feet) but now it looked like we were in for it. Clouds were filling the sky and a sprinkle of rain came down.
At our campsite we strung up a tarp and pitched the tent underneath. With three hours of daylight we took a drive up the mountain to see what we could before the storm. A modest wind was whipping mist and clouds over the road so we didn’t go far. Got a taste of the stink at the Sulfur Works thermal vents and we watched steam rise from a hot spring lake. Back at the campground the rain began in waves and turned to hail and cold wind. We ate our dinner in the car through the worst of it while the tent and tarp took a beating. Our plan was to sleep in the car if the thunder and lightning arrived, that being the safest place in an electric storm. I checked on the state of the tent, it was holding up well and was dry inside, so we bided our time and read books in the car until the sunlight faded. With no thunder we didn't feel the need to stay in the car all night and dashed into the tent when there was a slight lull in the rain and hail. We scrambled in through the tent flap and were warm and dry enough to survive the night. We went to sleep by the steady drip drop on the tarp and hoped that we’d see some sun in the morning.