Thursday, February 6, 2014

Lakes of Lassen Volcanic

     Lassen Volcanic National Park is a gorgeous, perfect gem tucked away among the jagged peaks of Northern California’s Cascade Range.  

     We visited in July and the weather was just hot enough to make for good wading in the beautiful glacial lakes.  

     I should have given more time to Lassen Volcanic.  I was heading from Redwood to Yosemite and I thought Lassen would be the prime in between place to stop for the day.  For the day?  Big mistake.  I can only imagine sunrise over these mountain peaks or sunset over these lucid lakes.

     Lassen Volcanic, true to its name, is home to several active volcanoes and smoking fumaroles.  Every distinct type of volcano known to geologists can be found here.  There are also over 700 flowering plant species and 300 different animals that live in the park.  

     This National Park seems quieter than most.  Whether this is due to its relatively remote location or the fact that it sits between two of the most famous National Parks in the country (Redwood and Yosemite) one thing is apparent: this is another one of California’s hidden gems.  We were there on a sunny Sunday afternoon and saw no more than a few dozen cars.  

     Since we were only there a short time I decided I’d rather spend all of it in one spot, between Helen and Emerald Lakes.

     We sat under the tall trees that surrounded them, feeling the strong California sun reflect off the water.

     Emerald Lake has a generous amount of green algae lining the rocks of its bed.  This is what leads to its peculiar and breathtaking color.

     Lake Helen also has algae on the bottom of it.  The bright aquamarine tones come from ancient glaciers that have long since molded, shaped, and painted the Cascade Range.  Adding in the natural red and gold of the rocks below crystal clear waters, this lake takes on the appearance of a rainbow.  

     It was a lovely day spent relaxing in the quiet of Lassen Volcanic National Park.  The next time I visit it will be for much longer than just an afternoon.  

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