October 24, 2020
Arrival at Butte Lake
California lays claim to nine national parks, as of 2021—more than any other state. Some parks attract millions of annual visitors: Yosemite and Joshua Tree clocked 4.4mn and 3.0mn visitors, as of 2019. Luckily for NorCal adventurers, Lassen Volcanic flies comparatively under the radar. The park has seen just over half a million visitors, annually, over the past few years.
Continue reading “Cinder Cone Nature Trail (Lassen NP)”
September 4, 2020
An Early Start
The day began well before dawn at the South Sister trailhead. It’s always smart to start a hike as early as feasible. But today this was doubly the case since it was Labor Day weekend and the forecast called for soaring temps by midday. Sure enough the parking lot was already starting to fill around 4:30 am.
Continue reading “South Sister”
September 1, 2020
Arrival at Dawn
I met my guide just before dawn for our ascent of Three Fingered Jack: a craggy, prominent remnant of a shield Volcano in central Oregon. This would be, far and away, my most technical rock ascent. As such, we had met the day before at Smith Rock to tune up my climbing skills.
Continue reading “Three Fingered Jack”
Aug 23, 2020, Rim Village
I arrived just before sunset to Rim Village, having driven that day north from the Bay Area. The summer and Fall of 2020 will forever be known for two things on the West Coast: COVID and fires. Evidence of the latter hung in the air over Crater Lake, which seemed visibly thick with smoke. I felt as though I were standing on the edge of a massive cauldron.
Continue reading “Garfield Peak (Crater Lake NP)”
June 20, 2020, Lassen Peak Trailhead
Lassen National Park
I began the day an hour southeast of Lassen National Park, in the town of Red Bluff. The road to the park undulated through the rolling foothills of the northernmost expanse of California’s Central Valley. Through the haze, I could see the Cascades rising to the north and east ahead of me. First, Shasta came into view, still covered in snow along its uppermost flanks. Then Brokeoff and Lassen Peaks rose over the landscape, dead-ahead, both silhouettes against the morning sun.
Continue reading “Lassen Peak: an entry-level Cascade volcano”
August 14, 2018, Paradise WA
In summer 2018 I signed up for a guided mountaineering seminar on Mt Rainier, in the gorgeous Cascade Range in Washington. My first trip to Washington, four years earlier, was to visit a friend getting her Ph.D. from U Washington in nearby Seattle. While roaming around town, I caught my first glance of Rainier, towering over the landscape. It was unlike any mountain I had seen before, clearly taller and more isolated than anything in the Rockies, let alone the Northeast. I asked my friend if we could hike it. She looked at me like I had three heads and said “What?! No! You need to like, train for that. And acclimate. It’s like a real mountain.” I decided then and there that the next time I was in Washington, I was climbing Mt Rainier.
Continue reading “Mt Rainier (PNW)”