Mount Lassen 13-Aug-2011

Lassen Volcanic National Park California

I’d always meant to hike up Mount Lassen in Lassen Volcanic National Park someday but “that some day” always seemed to somewhere in the future. The effort I put into climbing Mount Shasta (twice) might have been one reason Mount Lassen got neglected for so long. Then 3 years ago, we decided it was time to hike Mount Lassen and take another step toward climbing all of the 9,000+ foot Cascade volcanoes.  Our only problem was that Lassen’s summit trail was being rebuilt (slowly) and was only open at odd times. This year it was scheduled to be open only on the 4th of July weekend, the weekend of August 13-14, and Labor Day weekend but could still be closed AT ANY MOMENT! Attempts in recent years had been derailed by road closures, lack of enthusiasm for a long snow climb, wildfires, and trail maintenance.  Labor Day was booked, so we drove to the Mount Lassen Trailhead with just a little trepidation about its being open (yes, this time we did call ahead).

But, no worries, this time both the mountain,

Lassen Volcanic National Park California

Mount Lassen

and the trail were open, and the parking lot was already 75% full when we arrived.

 

Lassen Volcanic National Park California

Parking at the Mount Lassen Trailhead

The trail to the summit is short (2.7 miles) and very easy to follow. Despite the snow issues just a month ago it was clear of snow except for two 100-foot long, well-tracked traverses – the rest was dirt and dust.

Lassen Volcanic National Park California

A trail through the dirt

Some of the old trail signs are still in use, but because of foreshortening, the summit ridge always looked further away than it was.

Lassen Volcanic National Park California

It always seemed a little more than a half-mile to the top…

Those little specks on the ridge to the left are people approaching the top.

Lassen Volcanic National Park California

Climbers on the summit ridge

We finally topped out on the false summit – amidst quite a crowd,

Lassen Volcanic National Park California

Climbers on the false summit

and could see across to the actual summit, adorned with some kind of amazingly ugly – but highly visible – antenna structure. It got dubbed the “summit suppository.”

Lassen Volcanic National Park California

Mount Lassen’s true summit

A short walk across the ridge and we were celebrating the true summit.

Lassen Volcanic National Park California

Mount Lassen…at last!

From Lassen we could see across to a quite visible Mount Shasta (sadly for Mount Lassen, it doesn’t stand-out quite so well from the summit of Mount Shasta, usually because of smoke and haze). A new addition between Lassen and Shasta is a visually intrusive wind farm – proving there really isn’t any such thing as a free lunch.

Lassen Volcanic National Park California

A wind farm (arrow) has sprung up between Shasta and Lassen

The summit, summit ridge, and false summit were getting increasingly crowded, so we headed back down almost immediately. On the way down, we got a nice view of remnant snow fields on the side of Tehama.

Lassen Volcanic National Park California

A snowfield in August

Yes, it was a very crowded tourist trail but the day was near perfect, hiking with the LovedOne a real treat, and we got a summit to boot. Never gets any better.

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