During this photo trip, I ventured to a place that is almost permanently snow-capped and a place that reaches a boiling 322°F. No, it is not another planet. This is Mount Shasta and Lassen Volcanic National Park. The beauty of this area is hypnotic, yet menacing in its potential for destruction. Both Lassen Peak and Mount Shasta are still considered active volcanoes and have the power to destroy the surrounding areas with one eruption. But fear not because for now, they can be enjoyed for their isolated magnificence. Follow me on my journey into these geological treasures in California's Far North.
Music Credit: Kanye West feat Bon Iver "Lost in the World" | All videos shot with iPhone 5 | Editing: iMovie & Hyperlapse
Bumpass Hell (3:44 - 4:08)
The crown jewel of Lassen National Park is Bumpass Hell. This area was named in honor on Kendall Vanhook Bumpass, an experienced mountaineer who discovered this infernal region in the 1800's. As he was cautioning others about the treacherous grounds, he stepped upon unequal ground, broke through the crust, and his leg became disintegrated. Ground temperatures can reach a whopping 322°F. This geothermal area is known today as Bumpass Hell.
The hike to Bumpass Hell is about 3 miles round-trip along a beautiful ridge-line 8,000 feet high. Before setting my eyes on Bumpass Hell, I smelled the sulfur fumes (rotten eggs) emanating throughout the air. As I got closer, I heard the gurgling guttural noises coming from grounds. Finally, the trailhead reached a peak that offered the glimpse of Bumpass Hell. It was a canyon of steaming hills, turquoise pools, and bubbling cauldrons of mud. I approached what appeared to be a river, but was a the color of clay. The dirt around the river was a chartreuse color from the sulfur. I had never seen ground of that color. I walked along a boardwalk which transversed the area with large red signs warning hikers not to stray off the path.
"Caution: The ground near the hydrothermal areas is thin, brittle, and slippery. To avoid breaking through and being severely burned, stay on the established boardwalks and trails at all times."
I saw one hiker who defied the signs and was walking along the hill. I wondered if he had heard of Mr. Bumpass. The area is truly a splendor of Mother Nature: smelly, and magnificently beautiful at the same time.
Mount Shasta (1:05)
Mount Shasta dominates the landscape for over 100 miles in each direction. The first glimpse of the mountain is breathtaking. I spotted the perfect cone-shaped snow cap from the town of Redding along highway 5. It is one of the highest peaks in the United States, standing tall at 14,179 feet. Although it hasn't erupted in over 200 years, it is still considered an active volcano, which made it a foreboding presence.
Hedge Creek Falls (1:10 - 1:30)
In a town called Dunsmuir lies Hedge Creek Falls. The hike to the falls is less than a half mile round trip along a forest that reminds me of Fern Gully. The falls was still going strong in early Fall.
Whst stuck me most about Califronia's Far North is its abundance of water. In Southern California, it is very rare to see a river in its natural form- most are encased in concrete like the LA River. However, in Northern Claifornia, there are rivers and waterfalls all around, with Bruney Falls being one of the most stricking I have seen. Burney Falls is California's answer to Niagara. It is 129 feet tall with water gushing out of the hillside. It is located inside the Burney Falls State Park which features hiking trails and beautiful forests.
Shasta Dam (0:45 - 1:00)
The Shasta Dam is one of the main attractions in the Shasta region. The Shasta Dam resides in a beautiful forested area of hills with Mount Shasta framed in the background. The dam is one of the largest engineering feats with similar magnificence to the Hoover Dam.
The California's Far North is spectacular in its many geological wonders. It is abundant with rivers, mountains, waterfalls but also volcanoes, history, and many reminders of the forces of nature.
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