Purple lakes. Boiling puddles. Black pyramid-like cinder cones. Sound like crazy land? No! This is what I saw on my camping trip to Lassen Volcanic National Park a couple of weekends ago, which I went on with Kyle, Justin, and Stephanie. (Justin and Stephanie have already written about the trip here, here, and here.)

Although I had heard about this park all my life–my sixth grade class went there for a class trip (I didn’t go)–I didn’t know that Mount Lassen is an active volcano. As such, it’s a geological wonderland full of weird and cool sights to see. The first day, we hiked up Bumpass Hell, a place full of all the things described in the first paragraph: boiling mud pits, exhalation of steam, bleached landscapes, etc.

The park warns you not to step off the path because you could easily die or lose a limb. That’s what happened to Bumpass, the fellow who originally owned part of the park–he stepped into a mud puddle boiling at 240 degrees and lost his leg. The knowledge of this added a life-and-death component to the hike that was pretty cool.

So cool, in fact, that we decided to hike on to a cold boiling lake. Doesn’t that sound awesome? A lake that boils, but is still cold? It is not awesome, in fact. It is a mud puddle that bubbles somewhat. Luckily, it was beside a real lake that was just lovely, although perhaps not worth the extra four-mile hike to get there and back. Well, nothing is perfect, I suppose.


photo by Joy Lanzendorfer
Picture of the park with a big rock

photo by Joy Lanzendorfer
Bumpass Hell with a random guy in the shot

photo by Joy Lanzendorfer
Close-up of the steam. It smelled like rotten eggs. The smell didn’t actually bother me unless I happened to be in the middle of one of the steam blasts. Then it was kind of like being farted on.

photo by Joy Lanzendorfer
Purple mud–apparently it is purple because of pyrite bubbling to the surface.

photo by Joy Lanzendorfer
At the end of the trail was this bright blue puddle of water that I thought was pretty.

photo of Joy Lanzendorfer
Speaking of puddle, here is the boiling “lake.”

photo by Joy Lanzendorfer
Luckily it was by a real lake, so it wasn’t a total loss.

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