Continuing in the theme of amazing places in California we have never seen, we spent four nights in Lassen and seriously lucked out in our timing.
We were reserved in the Manzanita Campground and much of the highway that runs through the park is still closed to traffic. There’s this magical sweet spot that happens when roads like this one have been plowed and are open to bikes, but still closed to cars. That happened the day after we got there. So Richard is a happy biker. He said it was downright cold up at the top and the pictures seem to back him up.
Right after our arrival in the park, we got to say hello to an Altoistes couple we’d met at Wright’s Beach who now have their own Alto. It’s funny when people come to ask about your trailer and mention there’s another one in the park, because you just know you’re bound to know the people. We had a nice chat with them and they gave us all kinds of helpful information about the park. They’ve been coming to Lassen for over thirty years, so that’s another reason our timing was lucky.
He also got in a good ride from McArthur Burney to Lassen, for around a 44 mile ride through scenic mountain territory. I towed Dory and we played leap frog most of the way. I stopped to check out a couple of the National Forest campgrounds and, though they are “primitive” (meaning vault toilets), some of them are really nice. The road follows Hat Creek for a lot of the way and there are campsites that sit right by the river.
One of the activities in Lassen was to search out cell service, partly for legit reasons like Richard’s work, and partly for my own anxiety reduction. One of the better spots was at a vista point about 10 miles north of Lassen. We ended up returning to this area a couple of times. Another secret/not secret location was inside the park at point of interest marker #14. Additionally, if you drive past the park turnoff and continue a mile and a half to the south. there’s a turnout with ok LTE. However, by far the best connectivity point is atop a two mile hike up to Chaos Crags Lake. That is a less likely location for Richard to haul his laptop, however. The funny part was that, at each of these locations, you would see cars pulled over and people hanging out making calls or checking their phones. Like little cell service watering holes for the migrating masses.
The park itself is a picture perfect postcard, with views of Mt. Lassen reflected in lakes, and dominating the sky. We were too early in the season to be able to enjoy the volcanic points of interest like the sulphur beds and boiling pools. Those are all still under many feet of snow. Richard got to ride through the plowed areas, but said it wouldn’t be much to see. Lakes are frozen and buried, a different kind of beauty to be sure, but no views of the yellowed sulphur mounds quite yet.
Besides hiking around lakes, I got in a nice day of boating on the lake. The water is so clear, you can see all of the underwater plants and little fishies. There was no unusual wildlife spotting, but Richard wants me to note that there was some bird with a monotonous and repetitive song. There’s a small campground store with incidentals, but more importantly, delicious soft serve ice cream.
One last detail to mention is that we got hit with a summer thunderstorm and pretty good water dump. It gave me a chance to try out using a pool noodle under the center pole of the awning and that worked pretty well. The addition of a couple of segments of tent pole slipped inside the noodle, kept everything taught. There were enough mosquitos in the park that I felt it was worth the effort to set it all up. For a four night stay, we were quite comfortable.
Total miles from McArthur Burney: 44. Didn’t take data because I was playing leapfrog. Site 8, loop A. All the site in the campground seem very sloped, lots of leveling requires. Terrible dump with leaking rinse hoses. NO cell service in the park, no wifi anywhere. View point #14 is the best option inside the park.