Sometimes the last place you expect to find yourself is the first place you end up. Such was the case for the first stop on my California adventure. Driving east from Humboldt to Lassen, the trip began with a stop at Manzanita Lake. I didn’t know it at the time, but Lakes would play a central part in my discovery of California so it was fitting that the first natural wonder I should see was Manzanita Lake.
The National Scenic Volcanic Highway that runs through the park is exceptionally beautiful. Simply rolling across its winding path and around the sweeping vistas is an adventure in and of itself.
What better way to kick off an adventure than to climb a mountain. At over 12,000 feet, Mt. Lassen can be a formidable foe, but thanks again to the Volcanic Highway, the trail head starts at 8,500 feet and so the ascent only takes 1-2 hours. Preparation is key and I found this out the hard way (as I often do) by not realizing that there would be a 20 degree difference in temperature between start and summit. At the base of the mountain, my shorts and tank top had seemed more than adequate for the hike. However, after getting about halfway up the trail and the brisk winds began to pierce my skin, I quickly realized my error in judgement. I wrapped a towel from my bag around my chest and shoulders and sauntered on. Upon reaching the top, I was amazed to find snow… in August. A testament to the chilling effect of high elevation.
Through the pain of the ascent and cold were well worth the views that one can admire from the top. Sweeping across vast swaths of land on the beautifully clear day. I was even able to see my old friend, Mt. Shasta.
So was it worth the climb and the cold? I think so.