On Monday, we took a lengthy side trip back into California to see Lassen Volcanic National Park which is located about 40 miles east of Redding, California. We were told that this was a truly awesome place that shouldn't be missed, so we tried to shoe-horn it into our stopover at Ashland.
On our way down to Redding, I-5 passes right by Mt. Shasta. Mt. Shasta (north face shown in 1st photo above) is the 6th tallest peak in the contiguous US, but it is the Tallest Peak of Volcanic Origin in the United States! The peak rises to over 14,000 feet in altitude, but it is exceptionally beautiful since the surrouding flatland is at about 4000 feet. The result is a 10,000 foot vertical rise that can be seen hundreds of miles away in any direction. Mt. Shasta stands alone...a truly awesome sight.
Finally, after many hours, we arrive at Lassen Volcanic Park only to find that it is nearly completely deserted. Apparently, their season doesn't really begin until the 3rd week in June, so a key segment of the only road through Lassen was still "Closed for the Winter" (don't they know it's June??). This effectively split the park into two pieces: the piece we were in and the piece that we would have had to have driven another 100 miles to get into. We decided against the additional driving, but it was a bummer because alot of the really cool stuff (bubble pots, sulfer vents, intense lava flows) were in the other part of the park (the south entrance). None the less, we saw what we could as is evidenced by the 2nd photo above taken at Manzanita Lake near the Western entrance to the park. This lake has little to do with the general volcanic nature of the park, but hey, it's a cool photo with the ducks and all.
Anyhow, the gig with Lassen is that this volcano exploded in 1917 (I think it was 1917...it was in the teens sometime). This is not very long ago geologically speaking. Plus, this volcano remains active today! In fact, this volcano is considered the one Most Likely to Erupt in the Contiguous United States, so you and I may actually see it happen in our lifetime. Remember, you heard it here first!
The two pictures above are of essentially the same thing, Lassen Peak. The first one is actually a copy of a picture they had posted at an information kiosk in the park and is an actual photo of the area taken shortly after the eruption in 1917 (or thereabouts). You can see that the area was completely devastated and devoid of trees and all other life. The 2nd picture is one I took, but is of essentially the same area. You can see how trees have completely grown into the area and life has returned. Pretty neat, huh.
This first picture is a shot of another set of peaks to the west of Lassen Peaks called the Choas Crags. In addition, you can see that the ground is nothing but stones. This is therorized to have been caused by a massive rockslide that occurred after the eruption of Lassen Peak.
And finally, on our way back to Ashland, we passed by Mt. Shasta again (2nd photo above). This shot is the of the South Face. Shasta is one bitchin' mountain. And, a side note...Shasta is considered to be one the most important spritual power points in the US. It was the location chosen as the US center for the "Harmonic Convergence" that occurred last decade.