Lassen - Yosemite Parks and Denair

(August 7 - 9)



We're entering Lassen Volcanic National Park.

A nice little lake at the entrance.

Lassen Peak.

You are standing in the aftermath of the volcanic destruction known as the Devastated Area. Late on the evening of May 19, 1915, a large steam explosion shattered the lava that filled Lassen Peak's crater the previous five days. Glowing blocks of hot lava fell on the summit and snow covered upper flanks of the volcano. The impact touched off an avalanche of snow and lava rocks a half mile wide. It roared down the volcano's flank in front of you, and continued up over Emigrant Pass behind you, into Hat Creek Valley.

 As the lava blocks broke into fragments, the snow melted, creating a mudflow of volcanic debris, called a lahar. Though with less force, the torrent rushed down the path of the avalanche and was deflected by Emigrant Pass into Lost Creek, sweeping through homesteads. Had it not been for the heroics of Elmer Sotahan, who narrowly escaped the flood and ran three miles to warn others, many people might have died. As it was, no lives were lost, though six homesteads were destroyed. During the night his dog barked, raved and stuck his paws against him to wake him up.

Elmer thought it might be a bear, or lion so he got up. He looked out to see what the dog was barking at and saw the mudflow coming like a wave about twelve feet high.

Three days later (May 22, 1915), the volcano's crater welled up again with lava following the May 19th eruption. Lake lid covering a boiling pot, the pressure built. Late in the morning, Lassen peak blew again. This time it erupted with even greater force. The blast hurled rock fragments and pumice (lava filled with gas bubbles) high into the air. A huge column of volcanic ash and gas rose more than 30,000 feet and could be seen 150 miles distant. The falling pumice created yet another avalanche, a pyroclastic flow of hot ash, pumice, rock fragments and gas. The avalanche rapidly gathered and melted snow in it's path, transforming into a highly liquid lahar and following the path of the May 19th lahar, or mudflow. It rushed miles down Lost Creek, flushing volumes of water into lower Hat Creek again

The trail to Lassen's peak.

We stopped at the visitors area from which you can hike up to Lassen's Peak. There were a three lively little boys playing around the start of the trail. They proudly informed us that they'd hiked to the summit. I complimented them on their achievement, but wondered if they were telling the truth. We left the parking lot and continued down the road. Here and there we saw smoke and smelled sulfer. You can imagine what's just beneath our feet. Talk about global warming....It's kind of a bad joke on gullible people. We're living our lives on a relatively thin outer crust covering molten rock and bubbling gases.

Here's a boiling pot on the surface....

And here's those little boys with dad, mom and their baby sister. It turns out they're from Placerville, and  they all (including baby sister) hiked the trail up to Lassen's Peak.

If we think of Vocano's as mountain builders, than glaciers are mountain remodelers. This lone rock pays tribute to the rearranging forces of glaciers. Glaciers carve, grind and excavate mountains in ways that geologists easily recognize. This huge rock is called a glacial erratic....a boulder out of context. Notice the smooth surface of the rock at our feet. It was worn by the friction of a glacier that moved over it about 18,000 years ago. The lone boulder is of a younger rock type than the surface rock, was carried and was dropped here by the same glacier. As the glacier formed and flowed from Bumpass Mountain behind us, it plucked the boulder from the mountain's side and engulfed the rock in the ice mass. Gravity moved the ice mass down slope over the surface rock. By the time the ice reached this location, the glacier melted set the rock at rest here. This is the explanation real scientists have regarding the continual global warming, and cooling of our planet. This entire area was covered by a glacier at one time, and it melted. Guess what? So many places we've traveled to in America had been covered by glaciers that made huge valleys, and then they melted to become what we see today. Their freezing and melting had nothing to do with human activity. Don't believe the control freaks (with hands in our pocketbooks) trying to convince us that the use of fossil fuels, raising cattle, and  most human activity is causing global warming. The earth does what it wants, and has the scars to prove it.

Emerald Lake.

We spent the night camped on an SPI logging road. It was very nice and quiet.

The next morning I took these photos of a nosey little chipmonk.

I've forgotten what town this was, but I'm sure you recognize Paul Bunyan and his blue ox.

Entering Susanville, California....and leaving for the wide open spaces.

Bailed alfalfa. Wherever there's irrigation water we see green fields, orchards and gardens.

Mono Lake on the western edge of the Great Basin Desert. Click on the picture to see the entire lake.

Looking eastward across the Mono Basin we see the beginning of the Basin and Range Province that stretches from the eastern edge of the Sierra across Nevada to central Utah. The Great Basin Desert, it's mountain ranges, and it's sagebrush oceans dominate the later mountain West. The Great Basin Desert derives it's name from John Fremont's 1845 explorations of the West. Fremont searched in vain for a river leading to the Pacific Ocean, but eventually discovered that the landscape here was a gigantic enclosed basin with no outlet to the sea. Although the name suggests a single basin, the Great Basin contains nearly 150 basins and 160 mountain ranges.

Because the Mono Basin is poised on the edge of the forested mountains of the Sierra Nevada and the Great Basin Desert, it supports a unique diversity of plants and animals. The Sierra Nevada's proximity to moisture-laden storms from the Pacific ocean provides water to the desert from snowmelt in the mountains, resulting in a diversity of wet and dry habitats. Although heavily impacted by fire suppression and grazing, this desert still holds remnants of its former wildness. Wild rye, rice grass, buffalo berry, and aspens still flourish in areas of the Mono basin. Some of the local residents include deer, mountain lions, sage grouse, blue herons, Canadian geese, golden eagles, and coyotes.


Yippee! We've arrived!

It's late afternoon when we reach the entrance to Yosemite National Park.

The camera man was perched precariously on the rocks manuvering to take photos of the distant Half Dome.

Yours truly with the Half Dome in the distance. This turnout is named Olmsted Point in honor of famed landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903), and his son, Frederick Jr., when Tioga road opened to automobile traffic in 1961. Olmsted senior was considered the father of American landscape architecture and best known for his design of New York's Central park. He was chairman of the first commission to manage Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove and wrote a report recommending policy for the care and protection of Yosemite's scenery and wildlife. It is considered a classic national park treatise.

Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. (1870-1957) also worked in the field of landscape architecture. He collaborated with the National Park Service and was a member of the Yosemite Advisory Board, a group of experts who helped park managers solve problems. He maintained a lifelong commitment to conservation, contributing the guiding language in legislation establishing the National Park Service in 1916.

This trip took us through the mountainous route of Yosemite, and it was getting dark as we left the park, so we camped for the night in a wide spot off the road. We'll probably go back again and explore the valley.

The following day we're heading for Denair where we plan on visiting Jim and Ramona before heading home.

We did get lost a couple of times and wound up taking the longer route, but finally arrived at the Launius' in time to take them to lunch in our limo...

Jim and Ramona, their neighbor and her little dog Pepper. Actually Pepper has kind of adopted them because they're home most of the time.

These are the prettiest little flowers on the Launius' patio.

We stopped in Roseville where we had dinner at Black Angus restaurant and arrived home that evening. It's always nice to be home, but our meanerings with family and friends are  wonderful.


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