Colleen and I signed up for a camping trip with a geology group we found on Meetup.com. It was a four day trip to:
- hike to the top of a non-erupting volcano
- crawl through some caves resulting from old lava flows
- check out a waterfall
After stopping north of Oakland to pick up a person we were carpooling with, we headed north. As we were getting close, we saw the debris from the last eruption in 1914. The giant rocks all through this field deposited from the eruption went on for miles.
In the distance, we saw a mountain with snow on the top. Colleen said "I think that's Mount Lassen, it's the only mountain tall enough on the map."
She was right. And we'd be climbing it the next day.
Ancient Volcano Mt. TehamaAfter pulling into Mount Lassen National Park, we were assaulted with the vague stench of fumaroles (rotten eggs). Rounding a corner, the source came into view, and we pulled over. We were standing in the middle of an ancient composite volcano, that had erupted in the late Pleistocene era, collapsed in on itself, then worn away by glaciers.
This map shows the caldera of the ancient volcano.
This map shows area of the older volcano Mt. Tehama and the new (in geological timeliness) in relation to Mt Lassen to the right.
And we were standing in the middle of it - a fact that Colleen was geeking out about.
And it's stinky.
Bubbling mud pot, surrounded by various steaming vents.
It was slightly concerning that it might spit on us as we were so close to it.
When walking by, the gases were hot, sticky, and rotten egg smelling which indicates the presence of hydrogen sulphide.
Also pretty bright coloured clays from reaction with sulphurous and sulphuric acid contained in the hot water.
Our Impending Doom
Chugging our way uphill in our Ford Focus with it's lawn mower engine, we ascended to 8000ft, often with steep drop offs and no guard rails around the turns.
(California apparently does not believe in guard rails as strictly as Ontario)
We'd be summiting Mount Lassen from 8000 ft to 10,500 ft in 2.5 miles in the morning.
What the hell had we signed up for?