July 24, 2016

Sabbatical Week 1

We headed from SF to Santa Cruz to stay with friends for 2 nights, enjoy our annual Shakespeare in the Grove, and check up on Guito (these friends are our Guito sitters). 

Sunday, I received a text from a French friend I hadn't seen in almost 15 years.  She was in the SF bay area and my phone number hadn't changed, so we met up for lunch, caught up, and discussed possibly staying or traveling with them in Paris, the south of France, and/or Vietnam this year.  A big stroke of luck that we hadn't already left the area when she decided to reach out.  Monday night we stayed our last bay area night with another set of friends to finalize the sale of my precious car of 17 years.

Goodbye my old friend.  Enjoy your retirement as a track car.

Tuesday, we left the bay and headed to my hometown for some family time.  It was great to see everyone, but especially my youngest niece and nephew, whom I hadn't seen since February -- little ones change so quickly!  I did some short runs, including one with sis at 2 PM in 97F.  These efforts were slow and difficult, and definitely included lots of walk breaks but at least I got them done.

Friday we drove to gorgeous Lake Almanor to stay with friends, and Saturday we headed over to Lassen National Volcanic Park to hike to the summit of Mt. Lassen.  This hike starts at 8,500 ft, and is essentially switchbacks straight up what's left after the Volcano erupted in 1914.

Neither of us had hiked at elevation in the last decade, so we were excited to get some high elevation miles under our feet in preparation for hiking in the Andes in Peru.

Snow!  In California!  In late July!
This was the first hike I'd ever done with trekking poles and I'm a complete convert.  My short legs *loved* the upper body assistance on the uphills and they stabilized me on my downhill running return.

There were thousands of butterflies flying towards us on the last mile.
In addition to being a volcano, Lassen used to have glacier activity.  The photo below shows the sweeping smooth area where the glacier used to turn left as it pushed down the slope.  The glacier is now gone, but this area still hosts the only year-round snow field on the mountain.  The best part about this hike is that even though it's in Summer (the road to Mt. Lassen is closed most of the year due to snow) and under direct sun, there's a breeze that comes off the snow field that is wonderfully refreshing.

Glacial notch to the left, hikers on the switchbacks to the right.

Mt. Shasta view from the summit.

We made it!

Helen Lake

Lake Almanor in the distance.

It took us about 1.5 hours up, half an hour for lunch at the top, and an hour down.  A guy in the parking lot was bragging about beating his PR up with a 45 minute ascent, which is seriously impressive.  My advice would be to head up as early as you can.  The park is in the middle of nowhere and the hike is even deeper in the park, so we didn't start until 11:30 AM.  By the time we were on the trail, there was quite a bit of traffic, but everyone was very polite about stepping off the trail if you were faster than they were.

After we finished, we headed to Bumpass Hell to view the volcanic mudpots, but after about 0.3 miles, E and I agreed that we were too fried to do the 3 mile round trip hike and we'd already seen volcanic features in Yellowstone and Costa Rica.  Instead, we drove through and out of the park and enjoyed some drinks and food at the Highlands Ranch Resort to recover.   Refreshed, we headed back towards Lake Almanor.

I'd seen the PCT trailhead on our drive out to the park that morning, and I was insistent that we had to stop in case any hikers needed a ride to town (7 miles away on Highway 36).  We parked at the trailhead around 5:05 PM, and within 1 minute, a British hiker from Manchester (trailname: scarface) walked up, excited to raid the coolers for a soda, and thrilled that we would be happy to give him a ride to Chester (or "the American Chester" as he called it).  5 minutes later, another hiker from South Carolina (trailname: boydrogo) arrived, similarly happy about the soda and ride.  We chatted with them, told them about our friends who'd done the PCT last year, and our very minor day hike up Lassen, which isn't on the PCT (they'd done 23 and 24 miles each that day).

PCT trailhead on Highway 36 with trail magic for the hikers.
All in all, it was a day full of Californian natural beauty. And now, we leave California for Oregon.


Layla said...

Yay for Mt. Shasta photos!! I love that you stopped to give PCT hikers a ride; I'm not necessarily a believer in karma, but I do think people are more inclined to help others if they've previously been assisted. It's cool to think that those hikers might one day go out of their way to help someone because they'll be thinking of you with your cooler and ride.

Enjoy Oregon!

Angela Knotts said...

We spent about 2 days in Lassen a few years ago & loved it! I definitely want to go back & actually hike some stuff. (We mostly drove through & stopped at various sites/did "easy" walks, because of time.) Also, you are clearly very good people. :)

bt said...

@Layla -- the coolers were from other trail fairies. We simply showed up at the trailhead to offer a ride. My assumption is that anyone who's ever through-hiked would almost always give folks in need of a ride some help, so much of their existence lies in the kindness of strangers.

@Angela -- we definitely want to go back and spend more time. We were told that there is a much less touristy hike that we'd probably enjoy better called Brokeoff Mountain, but we didn't have another day to do it.

Jen said...

Beautiful photos! I love trekking poles, especially on the downhills. Plus, I'm not the most graceful person, and having them helps tremendously with my balance.