I’ve been wanting to experience Lassen Volcanic National Park in the winter ever since I hiked through in the summer of ’96 on the Pacific Crest Trail. It does not disappoint – it’s a spectacular place when snowbound.
We start by discovering that the fresh water tank in our camper no longer holds water. When we try to fill it, it just runs out the other side. We sadly pile in water bottles instead.
Ann, Gabe, and I drive up in the camper to the visitor center where highway 89 ends in the snow and make camp.
On Saturday morning Gabe and I head for Lassen Peak while Ann plans a snowshoe outing. We both pass the Sulfur Works geothermal area on our route.
We make a snow camp at Lake Helen, then start climbing in earnest.
It soon gets too steep for skis and we boot up the last six or seven hundred feet. The wind is gusty on the ridge, but not terrible.
At the summit the wind is stronger, and steals Gabe’s favorite hat. We retreat back to a sheltered area for a snack.
Just as we prepare to descend the wind starts blasting. We can’t hear each other, and I can barely hang onto my snowboard. It takes a false start and some traversing over crust to find decent snow, but then we feast on corn.
Back at basecamp I can’t resist going up for just a little more before we settle in for a windy night.
Luckily Gabe has built up the tent well and our shelter holds for the night. I stay reasonably warm, and don’t want to venture out into the wind again in the morning. Soon after the sun rises, though, the wind stops and the temperature shoots up again. We have an easy return trip with plenty of time for one more corn run before Ann rejoins us to pack up. She’s been up in the high country herself near Diller and Diamond peaks.