Lassen Volcanic National Park: Three Day Hikes

Three day hikes offer something for everyone in Lassen Volcanic National Park, located east of Redding, California. If you start from the north on Highway 89, the 1.7-mile Manzanita Lake Loop is a relaxing warmup. Head south to the other two trails: three-mile Bumpass Hell Trail and the tough, five-mile climb to Lassen Peak, 10,457 feet, and back. The Bumpass trail transports walkers to a boardwalk, which passes through a hydrothermal area. Sue and I walked the lake loop and Bumpass trail in half a day, but decided against tackling the peak in the warm afternoon sun. (I was tempted, though.) Looking for more? The park offers 150 miles of hiking and if you are walking the Pacific Crest Trail, you’ll get fantastic views as you pass through yet another national park. If you’re camping, the Manzanita Lake campground looked great and was still open in mid-October. The three day hikes close sometime in fall until spring. (Thanks to Sue for the photos!)

The John Muir Trail Calls Me Daily

It has been a bit more than a year since Sue and I set out on our greatest adventure, the John Muir Trail, which slices through the most spectacular sections of California’s Sierra Nevada. Over 243 miles, we climbed and descended 100,000 feet, mostly in wilderness. The hardest physical challenge of my life, it pushed me to my limit. I miss it and our trekking family every day.

Can you spot Guitar Lake in the first photo? I left our camp there at 4 in the morning to climb Mount Whitney, the highest point in the continental United States. Going northbound means the highest points and the tests of altitude acclimation come early in the trek, so Forester Pass (13,150 feet) was the first of a string of passes.

A highlight of our JMT was a hamburger, Sierra Nevada beer, and cake, served by four young trail angels—at the top of Selden Pass. They were there for just one day and surprise barely begins to measure our feelings.

The mules carried most of our stuff, including our home, a Nemo tent that is pictured near the trail’s end, at Upper Cathedral Lake, in Yosemite. We walked every mile, but tip our hats to trekkers who carry everything and detour to collect their resupplies.