Christian Kemp's USA travelogs

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View of Mt. Shasta, some 25mi away I woke up to a nice sunrise under a perfect blue sky. The rainy-weather spell had finally been broken! But rather than spend more time in Lave Beds, I decided that I'd drive on towards Lassen Volcanic National Park... my vacation was coming to an end, and I still wanted to cover some distance and get down to the Eastern Sierra to visit Bodie. On the way south towards Lassen, I was lucky enough to get several glimpses of snow-capped Mt Shasta, about 25 miles in the distance.

I entered Lassen Volcanic National Park at the Manzanita Lake entrance. My first real stop and first short hike for the day was around the "Devastated Area" formed by a volcanically triggered avalanche in 1915.

My next stop was at Hat Lake, where I took a few panoramas and tried to find a good spot to take pictures of the reflection of Lassen Peak in the lake water, but the dense underbrush around the border made that pretty hard. I was momentarily tempted to remove my shoes and put on some shorts and walk out into the lake a few yards to get a better picture, but I didn't dare because the risk of slipping and having fall the camera into lake water seemed pretty high.

I continued my ascent on the road towards Lassen Peak, stopping pretty often for pictures of more alpine landscapes around Dersch Meadows; while most everyone else was just zipping by in their cars, seemingly oblivious to the beauty of the small stream that snaked through the meadows against the grandiose backdrop of gray Lassen Peak.

Shortly after noon, I reached the highest point of the road. The scenery now was dominated by gray rock and smaller pine trees in darker green - I had left behind the light green meadows that now were some 1,500 feet below.

The trail going to the top of Lassen Peak In the old days, I'd have been tempted to climb Lassen Peak from here, but clearly my knees wouldn't let me do that this time around... the ascent of around 2,000 feet was way more than I dared do, especially since that would have implied a descent of 2,000 feet too.

Instead, I exited the park sometime around 1pm, and kept on driving South. I still stopped at Lake Helen and Emerald Lake, but decided to skip the thermal features of the park which I had already seen on a previous trip.

Instead, I drove East towards Highway 395, and proceeded to follow it for a long drive South towards my final destination for the day. In mid-afternoon, I stopped to refuel and do some shopping in Carson City - ending up on a strip of gas stations and shops that seemed pretty run down - and then left Nevada again as the sun set.

I arrived at Mono Lake maybe an hour after it was dark. I knew from a previous visit that there were some nice spots South of the lake where backcountry camping was allowed, but I made a mistake in taking a road east before going past the road (which I wasn't aware of at that moment - I was too tired to notice, apparently). Without knowing exactly where I was going, I headed up some dirt roads in search of a backcountry camping spot.

I stopped the car when the dirt road had become so narrow that sagebrush scratched against the car on both sides, and just kinda reversed back into a small clearing on the side of the road. The night was pitch black, and I didn't have any clue where I was, except that I must be well above lake-level.

But I didn't care much - I was tired and sleep came easy.

Miles driven: 450mi (724km)

Campground Accommodation: Backcountry camping (Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area): $0