Northern California: Lassen Volcanic, Giant Redwoods, and More

We made a few quick stops in Northern California on our way to my dad’s A-frame in Oregon, before our halfway-through-the-road-trip stay at Crater Lake.

The highlight for me was our first BEAR! Dan spotted it at Lassen, a little brown dot moving in the green of a valley kept warm by volcanic hot springs.

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Very far away, but unmistakably a black bear.

We stayed overnight at Plumas-Eureka State Park, taking a short but muddy hike along Little Jamison Creek out to Grass Lake. Even on an overcast day, the forest surrounded us with so many shades of green.

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When we got to the southwest entrance to Lassen Volcanic National Park, plows had cleared about six miles past the visitors center. We could drive one mile, to the Sulfur Works, and walk to following five up the Scenic Drive. The potential for a great view from higher up the Drive at Emerald Lake, coupled with our desire to leave behind the rotten egg-sulfur of the mud pots, encouraged us to walk between snow drifts higher than those on the Trail Ridge Road at Rocky Mountain.

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That sliver of blue in the center of the picture was all that was visible of Emerald Lake.

This walk would’ve been a dud – those drifts blocked most of the views but at least we got to stretch our legs – till Dan saw the solitary black bear. We had the long lens since a ranger had suggested we might spot a bear, exactly as close as we’d like to see one.

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The park only had snow camping available at that entrance, so we drove to a nearby national forest and spent a quiet, chilly night.

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After combobulating ourselves at my dad’s place in his absence, we made a day trip to the Redwoods. We’d done some shorter hikes here a few years ago, mainly in Jedediah Smith State Park, so we drove further south to the Damnation Creek trailhead, which offered a steep hike down to a small beach on the ocean. We started out under enormous old Redwoods, traveled down through spruce and fir, and pushed our way through wild grapevines and dense bushes before rounding a turn to see the ocean spreading out before us.

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I didn’t take a ton of pictures, because no pictures I’ve seen quite do justice to these massive trees.

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But I still tried!

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On the drive back, we spotted another bear, this one a cub by the side of the road as it wound through the Rogue-Siskiyou National Forest. It scrambled up into the bushes as I slowed the car. I contemplated trying to get a picture, but the camera was in the backseat and although we didn’t see Mama, she was certainly nearby.

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