Walter and Sara Let the good times roll
We left off in Part I as we returned from our first drive through Lassen Volcanic National Park.

Now that we'd had couple of days to get used to the altitude it was time take the hike to Bumpus Hell, the largest hydrothermal area in Lassen Volcanic National Park. It's one of the most popular trails in the park and there were lots of folks hiking it the day we did it, including several bunches of middle school kids on a field trip and some European tourists in slide-on sandals.

The trail starts at 8,000 feet and winds through some lovely territory.

Bumpus Trail View Lassen Volcanic National Park

The three peaks in this photo are all pieces of Brokenoff Mountain the original HUGE volcano in this area.

The parking lot where we started out is over there on the right.

You steadily gain elevation and eventually wind around so you get a view of the valley below.

View from Trail to Bumpus Hell Lassen Volcanic National Park

After a little over a mile and a gain of 400 feet (which isn't much usually but when you're at 8,000 feet it seems like a lot more), you get a view of Bumpus Hell.

Overlooking Bumpus Hell from the trail Lassen Volcanic National Park

No, that's not a gravel pit down there, that's a 16-acre tract of bubbling, boiling, hissing, burping, hydrothermal fun.

From here the trail goes down 200 feet in about a quarter of a mile. That's a little challenging when you come back up but we won't worry about it now. Instead, take a look at this!

Bumpus Hell Lassen Volcanic National Park

This is the western end of the basin, full of acidic pools and bubbling mud pots.

Mud pot at Bumpus Hell Lassen Volcanic National Park  Mud pot at Bumpus Hell Lassen Volcanic National Park

Everything reeks of sulfur and either burbles, hisses, burps or belches.

Here's a feature called Big Boiler.

Big Boiler Bumpus Hell Lassen Volcanic National Park  Walter Cooke at Big Boiler Bumpus Hell Lassen Volcanic National Park

It has been steadily putting out steam since it was first discovered in the 1800's. It is the hottest fumarole (outside of a volcanic crater) in the world--the steam has been measured at 322 degrees F. And it just keeps getting bigger and bigger by eating up the crust around it--board walk included!

Around the bend from it is the Boiling Pool.

Boiling Pool Bumpus Hell Lassen Volcanic National Park  Boiling Pool Bumpus Hell Lassen Volcanic National Park

If you look closely at the photo on the right you can see the mud slashing up at the lower edge. The water flows out of the vent and into the pool next to it.

It makes the best gurgling splashing whooshing noises! There are live bacteria growing in this 150 degree pool. Mother Nature sure knows how to take advantage of every little niche in the environment.

You follow the board walk on past more bubbling mud pots and hissing fumaroles.

The yellow crystals on this fumarole are sulfur crystals formed from the hydrogen sulfide that is formed from sulfur dioxide that is released deep in the earth from the magma that heats the water that feeds the area. The hydrogen sulfide is what makes everything smell like rotten eggs.

Sulfur coated fumarole Bumpus Hell Lassen Volcanic National Park

East Pyrite Pool was one of my favorites.

East Pyrite Pool Bumpus Hell Lassen Volcanic National Park

It boils really violently and produces black swirls in the grey water. The black is iron pyrite or fools gold.

At the end of the board walk you come to this lovely turquoise pool.

Clear pool at Bumpus Hell Lassen Volcanic National Park

The bottom of the pool is white which means that the sulfuric acid in the pool has decomposed all the rock into silica and kaolinite. The pond may not look hot but it's probably highly acidic and wouldn't be too good to swim in.

As always I took a ton of photos but I won't drowned you in them!

The hike back was a bit of a push up that steep hill. It had warmed up into the low 90's and dragging your body up a steep rocky path in the sun was work. But once you make it up then it's down hill the whole rest of the way!

And we got the special treat of yet another wonderful view of Lassen from the trail.

Mt Lassen from Bumpus Hell trail Lassen Volcanic National Park

For lunch we stopped at the picnic ground at Lake Helen. How's this for a view from your picnic table?

Lake Helen picnic area Lassen Volcanic National Park  Walter Cooke at Lake Helen picnic area Lassen Volcanic National Park

The water was perfectly still so I hiked around the edge of the lake looking for the perfect place to take yet another 'mountain reflected in the lake' photo for my growing collection of them. In the end I took a bunch but this is the best.

Lake Helen with Lassen reflected in it Lassen Volcanic National Park

The next day we packed up the trailer and drove north to the Upper McCloud River Area just southeast of Mt Shasta.

The summers Walter was 17, 18, and 19, he worked for the US Forest Service doing fire suppression and was stationed in the McCloud area in the little town of Bartle. It's some of his favorite country, full of Ponderosa pines and lots of blue sky.

We camped at Fowler Campground and found a site right next to the McCloud River with plenty of shade. The shade was a very good thing. It was pushing 100 degrees by early afternoon.

There's a paved trail that runs west out of the campground to the Lower McCloud Falls. We followed it through the dappled sunshine, getting views of the river from time to time. There were lots of folks out fishing since they'd just stocked the river with trout.

McCloud River south of Mt Shasta

After about 1/2 mile we came to the lower falls. We climbed up the trail to the viewing area and this is what we found. A very nice little water fall.

Lower McCloud Falls south of Mt Shasta

We took the trail back and had lunch and sat in the shade watching the river for a while. Then took the unpaved trail east to the Middle McCloud Falls.

Middle McCloud Falls south of Mt. Shasta CA

It's a very nice waterfall with a little cascade right in front of it--there on the right in the photo. I climbed around on the rocks trying to get the perfect view and Walter found a rock to sit on in the shade. He's so patient with his crazy wife who always wants to take just one more picture.

Walter Cooke at Middle McCloud Falls CA

We spent the rest of the afternoon sitting in the shade listening to the river and reading. At dusk Walter spotted a doe and 2 fawns across the river. We watched them work their way up river and some passing hikers suggested that maybe they'd come into camp and visit us later. We smiled and went inside.. In the middle of cooking, Walter points out the open door of the trailer door and there's the doe and her fawns!

I grabbed the camera and took some photos through the unscreened section of the door. It was dusk so they weren't great but here's your wildlife for the trip--two fawns. Our only other sightings were of ground squirrels and chipmunks!

2 fawns at Fowler Campground south of Mt. Shasta CA

The next morning we drove up the very bad dirt road to the Upper McCloud Falls.

Upper McCloud Falls south of Mt Shasta CA

They seem to come out of nowhere in the rock face. But when you hike over there you can see that they've worn their way through the lava flow to make a series of cascades.

Upper McCloud Falls south of Mt Shasta CA  Upper McCloud Falls south of Mt Shasta CA

And down below in amongst the rocks on the far side of the river was a photographer taking pictures of the falling water. I leaned out over the railing to take the photo on the right and he looked up and saw me and waved. It was pretty funny.

Then we hit the road towards home. But wait, look there's Mt. Shasta. Stop the car. I've got to get a shot.

Mt. Shasta from the south

She's still got some snow on her top even on the south face. And of course, the sky was blue blue blue.

I hope you enjoyed the trip down to Lassen. If you ever get the chance to go, it really is worth the trip.