Today, we continued our auto tour of the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway, picking up where we left off yesterday. It didn’t take us finish. Our first stop was at Hat Lake, which was created during the 1915 eruptions. A huge mudflow blocked the West Fork of Hat Creek damming the water up behind it. Lahars wiped out all the trees and left a barren landscape behind. The effects of the eruptions have been covered up by the work of beavers over the past few decades. The beavers have left and the lake is now just a little pond. If the beavers don’t return and flood the area again, it will become a meadow. Alder trees are encroaching on it around the edges. It is a pretty spot.
Our next stop was at Hot Rock. The huge, 30-ton chunk of rock came from the summit of Lassen Peak. It was dropped near the road by an avalanche and mudflow during the 2015 eruptions. The boulder was a chunk of lava that was still hot. A few days after the eruption, mud was still boiling around many of the hot boulders. The internal temperature of the large lava chunks was probably more than 1,000oF. The rocks took months to cool completely.
Our next stop was along the Nobles’ Emigrant Trail. The modern highway follows the Emigrant Trail in this section of the Park. In 1851, William Nobles discovered Nobles Pass and realized he had discovered an easier route over the mountains from the Nevada deserts to the east to the Northern Sacramento Valley. Shasta City was the leading settlement in the region. Nobles offered to reveal his route to the businesses of Shasta City for $2,000. The route became popular immediately with emigrants heading to northern California. Shasta merchants hired Nobles to guide emigrants through the mountains.
Chaos Jumbles was our next stop. Chaos Crags are six dome volcanos created by explosive eruptions less than 1,100 years ago. The lava domes were made much the same way as Lassen Peak but they are much younger. About 350 years ago, three large avalanches brought enormous masses of rocks from the Crags down across the area. The avalanches came down the mountains at speeds over 100 mph. Over the past 350 years since the avalanches occurred, a forest of stunted mixed conifers has grown on top of the jumbled rock debris.
That was pretty much the end of our tour along the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway. Our last stop was at Lassen Crossings. There are large interpretive sings there with information about the surrounding area. After completing the drive, we hiked around Manzanita Lake. It was quiet today with only a couple fishermen and a few boats out on the lake.
Weather: low 39°, high 66°, mostly sunny
Birds: ravens, robin, Canada geese, Steller’s jays, coots, mallard, red-winged blackbirds, orange-crowned warblers, pied-billed grebe
Other Wildlife: golden-mantled ground squirrels, yellow-pine chipmunk