Monday, July 09, 2007

Laura vs. the Volcano

We're back from our annual fourth of July trip to a national park. This year, we chose Lassen Volcanic, one of the smallest and least visited national parks in the country. Why would we choose such a place? Well, proximity to gambling is one reason. The other is that we were meeting quite a few people from the West coast for a weekend of hiking and camping.

A scant 2 and half hours from Reno, this national park doesn't really have any "oh, wow" moments like the Grand Canyon. The mountains are in the southern Cascade region, and the namesake mountain, Lassen Peak is only about 12,000 feet. But while it may lack sexiness, this park is still a fun place to hang out and hike. Also, there's an element of danger here too...Lassen Peak is still an active volcano, and it last erupted in 1915, spewing lava and volcanic rocks all over the place. If you're a badass (which I'm not), you can even hike up the volcano.

This was a fun trip, mainly because we were with such a great group of people. Despite the fact that I like to camp with at least one former Eagle Scout and none were present this time around, making fire was not too complicated, thanks to the dry conditions in California. Actually, I'm surprised that there weren't fire restrictions in the campground.

There was one really scary moment when a few of us got lost in the wilderness, literally. We were following a trail that just seemed to kind of die off, so we wandered around aimlessly trying to figure out where to go. Finally, we heard cars on the main road so we made a beeline for the road, only to discover that we were about a mile from the trail head.

One of the great things was the big, blue sky. It was such a brilliant blue, and for most of the time, there was nary a cloud in the sky. At night, the stars were out in full force, and it was amazing to me that there were so many. Matt even saw a few shooting stars.

It was a welcome change from big-city life (although I really missed the food...the one time we went into town we had a crappy experience at the local pizza parlor/bar), and I would gladly go back.
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