All Around Lassen NP

Summer has begun and our first adventure takes us in a loop towards Nevada and back, and all around Lassen National Park. Leaving on Thursday, June 15, after much prep, and finishing up work stuff, we are off to Lassen. Manzanita Lake campground was our first stop, and it being Father’s Day weekend, I knew camping close to Redding with a lake would be crazy full, and also that reservations for any National Park these days is a given. One night was earlier secured for the same site we have been in before with a sweet view of Lassen Peak. The campground had at least seven Airstreams in it which was amazing (didn’t connect with any of them as time was limited). We set up camp, heading out for a #1 hike around Manzanita Lake, (next time we have to rent a canoe) taking it all in. Even though we live in a beautiful spot, the new smells, the scenery, and atmosphere of camping always is embraced.  Dinner and watching the Alpenglow on the mountain ended the day.

Perfect site (45) to watch the light change on Mt. Lassen.

This display is worth a stop before the entrance on the northern side of the park. It orients one to all the areas that touch the mountain.

In the morning, after breakfast we took a hike to the visitor center and inquired about the handkerchief challenge we had read about in their newspaper.  I bet they run out of those handkerchiefs quickly. After hitching up we headed for the dump station to fill up our water and our two Rhino Pacs with water. Butte Lake is having mechanical issues with its pump, so no water except for the lake. Heading out we stopped at the Crossroads display to read all about the area- very interesting, and tucked into a sweet spot before the entrance.

Our lunch stop was on the road and we even had cell service to catch-up with people and obligations. Getting to the turnoff at Butte Lake, I actually drove the six miles in on a very dusty road, a first for me.

Our reserved site 11B was a bit unlevel but we managed. Just past our site was the entrance to the group camp area full of over 100 Boy Scouts! The stuff they had to bring in such as water, and toilets was massive, and when they arrived, five days before it was snowing! After unhitching we walked to the lake, chatted with the campground host, a hiker who had climbed the cinder cone, a couple from Innsbruck, Austria and the Boy Scouts. Steak was on the barbie and it was an early night. I am reading the Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and dreams are crazy.

I’m bringing a hammock next time!

So gorgeous and the best part was no one was here!

In the morning plans were made. Riding his bike has always been John’s passion, and although I too love to bike ride I am more of a flat pavement type person. He wanted to check out Butte Creek campground which is on the way in, but I decided riding on a dusty road with cars coming and going, and dealing with some significant climbs in my opinion, I was going to pass. He took to the road and I chose to walk down to the lake and go as far as my sandals would take me and quickly realized that all further hikes would be in sturdy shoes- the cinders are all over.  I did put my feet in the lake and it wasn’t too cold.  Walking back to the campground, John was back reinforcing my decision to not partake in the ride, as traffic was a factor as was the road texture, however Butte Creek campground was along a creek (duh) and cute.  After lunch we hung out, I finished the Alchemist, moved my solar lights around with the sun and laid in the hammock. We decided to go check out #2 Bathtub Lake. The hike was easy and the first lake looked inviting, the second lake, Bathtub Lake not so much. Did see my first flowers! We hiked further on then turned around to check out the first lake and for John to swim-or at least take a quick dip.
Back at camp we noticed a whole lot of people walking to the lake in groups and asked them what group they were in (Boy Scouts had left) and I turned out they were a quick meetup bunch of couchsurfers. From the Boy Scouts to couchsurfers 🙂 We made a dinner of tuna, salad and grilled zukes. After we chatted with the Austrians, we walked around the campground and settled in to watch Tina Fey’s movie Whiskey Tango Foxtrot,  followed by our neighbors playing guitar until 10:20.

Note to self – no more of these tuna steaks – size inconsistency is a factor.

Up at 6:30 – we ate a quick breakfast, loaded up with apples, water, camera, sunscreen, hats and walking sticks to #3 climb the Cinder Cone. The trail to the base is easy, beautiful and we didn’t see anyone. The walking sticks, my Vasque boots, and new hat kept me comfortable. We made it to the top and within 10 minutes more people came up, but we were the first of the morning. The wind was a bit much, however the view made me set it aside. We took lots of pictures, had apples and water and just took it all in, even got a Father’s Day call on the top from Mariah! Going down we met a lot of hikers – it must have been 15 minutes down nonstop, then out on the trail and back. Did see some surprising footwear that could’ve prevented the assent, such as sandals and crocs.

Such a steep hike – glad for the walking sticks. I now know how important they are. All the hikers we met on the PCT had them too.

We made it and were the first ones at the top…for ten minutes! A steady flow of people arrived, but there is enough room for everyone to explore.

There are five walkers on the other side.

The bottom which one can easily walk to.

We celebrated our hike with a beer, lunch and showers. Chatting with the campground host in the late afternoon he relayed that the rangers had to come to break up our neighbors music, and the crowdsurfing group. We talked about the water situation and he was hopeful for a Monday launch. The campground had under ten spots taken after a big weekend.  Dinner was spaghetti and salad and we finished the day with Neil Young’s Harvest Gold movie. It was a darn hot night and we even slept with our door opened.
Today (Monday, June 19) we are supposed to get some thunderheads and dry lightning. We also are down to the Rhino Pacs of water and our toilet is filled up due to not enough water in the black tank to start with. This has happened once before, but we are close to pit toilets so no worries. Also our awning is having issues and our monitoring system seems to be not working. In addition I woke up with an intense back ache. But after some Ibuprofen and a great pancake breakfast we decided to do the hike #4 that parallels the lake and then follows Butte Creek – the outlet for the lake.  We also wanted to take a dip in the lake before Bathtub because it’s warmer, so did the reverse hike ending at the beginning of the trail to Bathtub.

Butte Lake is a perfect place to use a boat (no motors), as there are a lot of inlets and it’s big.

Two water crossings and I managed to find just the right spots to cross with some effort-walking sticks helped!

So, I am not a log walker and extremely afraid of slipping off a log, and we came upon the first creek crossing and John walked effortlessly across and above the rushing water and I chose to find a place to forge across. I did this again when the trail crossed for the second time. My thoughts of hiking in wet boots was not ideal but it turned out to be okay. We got to the lake and each took a dip. It was deserted until we left, with four families on the trail with swimming intentions.

Back at camp, beers, carrots and hummus nourished us while we awaited those thunderstorms. About 3:30 and the thunder could be heard, and by 4:15 we were getting winds, dropping tree vegetation, and bits of rain, good for the dusty road, not for my mental state as I don’t like loud noises and potential threats. John on the other hand loves this stuff- it’s been his kind of day! By 4:30 the rain was heavier and the thunder was moving high above us. Luckily no lightning so far that I can see. The thing about mountain thunderstorms they usually cool it down and pass fast.

I’m going to sit in the Cloud – oh and we named her Ava! It’s a short story as John’s parents had a boat, which we just sold, and they named the boat Mariah after our first born (also cue the movie On Golden Pond), so we named the Cloud Ava after Mariah’s first born.  By 5:00 the storm was passing and the rain was starting to cease. Many new campers were coming in, our Fantastic fans were opening up, and the sun was appearing again. We poured some wine, found some sun in our lawn chairs and relaxed. Dinner was chicken and asparagus on the barbie. Walking around the campground, we ran into a family we had seen on the morning hike, and we joined them for a lawn game then continued back to the Cloud and watched Neil Young.

Love a cloud to cloud storm and one with rain for the dusty roads in the campground.

Up early to get ready to move on – Airstream with no plan I’m calling it. We headed towards Lake Almanor, eating lunch in Westwood, checking out various campgrounds. The privates along the lake are boxed in and not our style. We had called the Almanor Ranger Station a week ago and they said all the Forest Service ones were closed due to tree cutting, so we chose to go to the PGE campground. However we first came to a USFS campground where John got out to talk to the people in front of us who said they had a spot and were leaving it and we could have it. We followed them to their site and it was in the now opened USFS campground, and they had an Airstream! They loaded up and left and we moved in. After setting up we found non reserved ones empty so decided to move the next morning early. We drove into Chester and went to the USFS for maps and information. Then drove towards Drakesbad to see if we could take our trailer into the sites along the way. After checking High Bridge (no trailers) and Warner Creek we decided to stay where we are and eventually do a day trip up to the Warner Valley, making a dinner reservation at Drakesbad.
Wednesday we were up early, walked around with our table cloth and chairs and picked a new site #31. It was a long back in but well worth it with a meadow view out the back.  We had breakfast and decided to take the bike trail from mile marker 3 to 8 and back.  It was an incredible trail – all asphalt and ups and downs, mainly flat. Took us about 4 hours with two major stops. The lake looked fabulous! Back at camp we relaxed, snacked and talked about maybe staying an additional night.  John walked to the lake and I stayed back.

The max grade is 7% and it was mainly an easy ride with priceless views.

Plumas Pines had a special drink- the Cherry Cooler!

Thursday we rode the beginning of the trail, mile 3 -1 some of it closed due to trees being cleaned up, but there was a detour. Chatted with Ian on the trail. Got back to camp, packed lake gear and headed out to do some swimming and lounging. It was so nice. Not too crowded and the water was perfect. When we got back to camp, we walked 10 minutes through the summer homes to Plumas Pines for dinner on the lake.
Friday after breakfast we packed a snack lunch, swimsuits and towels to head for Drakesbad Resorts. We first stopped at the Collins Lumber Museum and toured it. Quite the informative place regarding history and basic lumber mill information, Weaverville could use something like this. We then headed towards Drakesbad stopping for a snack at Domingo Springs CG. Beautiful spot and we thought we might be able to get into one or two sites in the very beginning of the campground. There was a footbridge connecting the two loops and a running fountain to get water. After taking pictures we were back in the truck driving through some residential summer cabin/houses, arriving around 2:00. We hadn’t been here before we realized. We walked around the grounds, took a small 1.5 mile hike and headed for the warm springs pool. It was amazingly comfortable even though it was on the warm side. We chatted with various pool dwellers and a backpacker doing the PCT.  Around 5 we tools showers and then headed towards dinner at 6. Dinner was outside, BLT salad, eggplant parmigiana or salmon, chocolate cake and a nice bottle of wine. We walked around the grounds and explored the lodge. We headed back and much to our surprise our neighbors, who had done an elaborate camp setup weren’t there (they never did arrive). The campground was packed and sleep was fretful. Must have been the coffee and chocolate.

Drakesbad from the meadow is beautiful.

The pool, even though it is warm is refreshing.

We could only get one night as they were super busy.

Saturday morning we packed up camp,  did the dump thing and headed towards the Silver City Resort just outside of Minden, NV. Its fair – a lot of long timers, small pool, but a lounge that’s cool temperature wise. Had lunch, retreated to the lounge, took long showers and drove to the relatives for dinner. Sleep was perfect!
Sunday morning in most campgrounds is getaway day – no exception here. Appears mostly our section was Hwy 395 overnighters. We headed out after more showers to Walmart, to get food, and headed towards Truckee.  The ultimate goal was to camp somewhere near Sierraville on 89, or the Truckee River. We pushed on due to noise and water issues, checking out Clios River Edge RV Park in Graeagle which was nice but ultimately wanted Plumas Eureka SP. We cruised into the park around three and they said any site not reserved for one night was ours. We looked at one loop and chose #1 a bit of a high angle issue but it worked. Cracked open some Stone IPA’s  and relaxed in our lawn chairs. After our beers we got water – about 5 Rhino Pacs worth, then walked around the campground and checked out all the sites, there were a few I would have liked – the one we were in last time actually had an Airstream in it (someone’s reading my website). We settled in for dinner and a movie.

The trail was full of flowers and this little gem, the Leopard Lily.

Jamison Creek was flowing!

In the morning we had a hearty breakfast and hiked the trail to the visitor’s center, 2.5 miles round trip. Great flowers along the trail, walked back along the road. Showered, did dishes, dumped and headed back to Lassen NP.
We stopped in Quincy (92 degrees) for gas and lunch – cute town and had a fabulous lunch at Pangaea. We arrived at Lassen at 5:00 (68 degrees) to park for the night in the parking lot. Most everyone had left, there were about four or five tent campers and one other trailer. The visitor center bathrooms are open for the night, maybe due snow, as the camping bathrooms don’t seem to be open yet. We chatted with another trailer owner – towing a cute Oliver. The night was so dark and the stars so bright I really want to do some night photography.  Morning was leisurely and we hit the visitor’s center when it opened to claim our bandannas and drove the three hours home.

Bandana worthy!

It was nice to get home in the early afternoon, and I even made lunch in the trailer where we opened mail and talked about the upcoming days. It was a good 13 day trip and good to be home. Now comes the Fourth of July, and getting ready to head out again -this time to Glacier and Yellowstone.