Hello friends! I am up to my eyeballs in back to school stuff. How about you? However, I am still fondly remembering my family vacation this summer. You might remember that we took a 9 day road trip. #4boysandamominavan I talked more about it here. Part of our family road trip this summer included a stop at Mt. Lassen Volcanic National Park. As it says in the park’s brochure:
Lassen Volcanic National Park is home to steaming fumaroles, meadows freckled with wildflowers, clear mountain lakes and numerous volcanoes. Jagged peaks tell the story of its eruptive past while hot water continues to shape the land. Lassen Volcanic offers opportunities to discover the wonders and mysteries of volcanoes and hydrothermal areas for visitors willing to explore the undiscovered.
The park is generally closed October thru May and sometimes beyond that due to snow. Luckily for us, all the roads to and in the park opened up just two short weeks before our visit. I still cannot fathom summer with roads closed due to snow. However, I assure you, that is something you must consider when planning your trip to this area. This park did not disappoint. It is stunning. However, there were a few snags in our day.
First of all, I knew that my family wanted to hike up Mt. Lassen, a 10,457 foot peak. We drove from Redding to Mt.Lassen’s north entrance only to discover that a boulder was blocking the main road through the park. To access the trail up Mt. Lassen peak we would need to exit the park and head south on the perimeter of the park to enter at the south entrance. Oh well…another hour and half in the car. 🙁 If you want to just hike the mountain peak go to the south entrance and save yourself the aggravation.
The cost to enter the park is $20 per vehicle. This gave us access to all the hiking trails, visitor’s center with interactive activities, and unimaginable beauty. There are plenty of trails and sites beside the highest peak in the park. My family; however, headed straight to the trailhead for the hike to the peak. Such is my life in a house full of men. sigh. The drive through the park to get there was full of twists and turns along the side of cliffs. Honestly, it was enough to make this mama turn around and face the back of the car. 🙂
As Texans we were thrilled to enjoy cooler temperatures. The highs were in the 60s…in July!!! A hike up the mountain in the cool sunshine seemed to be a great idea. The guide said that the hike was a 5 mile round trip hike. Now, you may be thinking like I did… “hey, I walk all the time. I can do 5 miles in my sleep,” “I’ve done a 3-day walk where we walked 20 miles a day. No problem,” “I work out. I’m fit. I can do this.” The reality is that somehow not all miles are equal. Somehow going up 2500 feet in elevation makes a difference. This was a workout! It was tough. I questioned my ability. My glutes cried and screamed. It was HARD. Perhaps reading the guide that said this is a strenuous hike would have helped.
After walking through snow and ice, we met the trailhead. I had no idea we would be hiking in shorts through the snow! However, it didn’t take much time before we were glad to be in those shorts. We were working so hard to climb up that we definitely got warm. My suggestion if you make this hike…wear layers. Shorts are good, but you want a jacket. You will definitely need hiking shoes or boots as well. And, a hiking stick is also super helpful for the climb, especially if you have to trudge through snow and ice.
The starting elevation for the hike up to the peak is 8,000 feet. As an FYI, for fellow Texans – this is already a high elevation and the air is thin. Be aware. The peak is at 10,457 feet. That means it’s a steep, difficult climb.
As I said, we began having to hike through snow. It was uphill and slippery. I’m just saying…from the beginning I was struggling already and was hoping there wouldn’t be snow the whole way. Luckily, the snow ended fairly quickly. However, keeping up with my boys is no easy task. They are all over six feet tall with long legs ~ at least compared to my short 5′ 5″ self. My short legs could not take as long a stride as they could. Still, it was flat out annoying being in last place the entire hike and having one sweet, chivalrous son stay with me at all times…just in case.
May I remind you here, I actually do work out regularly and have for years. I am not bragging when I say that I have done cycle class, Yoga, been a walker, various aerobic classes, etc… Therefore, physical exertion is not something foreign to me. I am saying all this(again) just to preface my next statement. This hike was H.A.R.D. for me.
When I got to this point on the hike, the boys were all telling me we were getting close. I took this selfie already thinking the caption would read “I’m about to die here.” The overlook was fantastic, but I was not.
Then, a few minutes later we arrived at a posted sign that informed us we had 1.4 miles to go. 1.4 miles! Out of 2.5! I was dying and not even half way there! Honestly, I wanted to cry…I fought back the tears so as not to appear a total baby….I did not say I wanted to quit. However, I wanted to quit. I am a big baby apparently. To add insult to injury, my boys in the lead were laughing, adding in dance moves on the trail, and at certain places running and skipping! Skipping! Really? They did not seem to be affected by the air and were not breathing hard. I, on the other hand, felt as if I sounded like a panting dog. Is this all a product of age? Am I really unfit? What is up with all of this?
A bit later, we arrived at another sign. Prepare yourself. I was still panting, on the verge of tears. My legs were screaming and my glutes have never felt such fire. I was truly feeling the need to quit. Like I can’t go on. One leg wouldn’t move in front of the other. I am not lying. #stoplaughing Ready? The sign said we still had .9 miles to the summit! I am not lying. How could I have only gone a mere 1/2 mile? I was in agony. Still, we moved onward.
Were any of my boys concerned? Did they doubt for a second that we could get to the top? NO. Me? Absolutely. I was even questioning if it was worth it. After all, how much better could the view be? Wasn’t it already great? C’mon guys…let’s stop here and call it a day. No such luck. Onward.
More agony. More internal whining. Some might have been my outside voice as well. Still, there were no cheerleaders there to help me move on. There was no inspirational music to motivate me. No one was announcing my name over some loud speaker to tell the world of my accomplishment. 🙁 It was not fun at this point. Really. Not. Fun. And, it was cold and super windy.
Here we are at the top. Oops…not We. Here are my boys at the summit. I gave it up less than 1/2 mile from the top. I simply could not go further. Here’s the lesson…take trail mix or a protein bar or something. I had 0 energy, no food, my teammates/boys were too far ahead of me with the water (not even kidding), and I had a bad case of the shakes. I was worried I was a hazard to myself to keep hiking along the edge. Still, I was ALMOST there. Does that count? No, not really. My boys will tell it to me straight. I will not live this down.
Can I confide in you? I was feeling pretty justified in quitting the hike. Then I saw a man with his young daughter pass me on the way to the top. She was 5. Wait…it gets better…then two men passed me on their way down. One was wearing a boot – as in a boot from the doctor after an injury or surgery. I can’t even…
Nonetheless, the views were beautiful. (I still say at some point, they all look the same…no matter the height). I feel good about what I was able to do. And frustrated at myself for not finishing at the top. Still, I probably would have been too scared at the top to enjoy it anyway. I am so glad my boys got to do it. They felt great about reaching the top and promptly posted it all over their social media accounts. They also had to use some serious teamwork to help each other the last bit to the top. #lifelessons #brothers #bonding
The hike down was considerably easier even though it killed my knees. We made it down in about an hour, and all lived to tell the tale. We promptly headed for food… a well deserved burger in Redding. Then, we headed north for our next adventure.
So, have you ever tried (& failed) something really challenging like this? I would love for you to share it with me in the comments below so that I’m not the only member of the club. How about, have you visited this park? What did you think of it? I will post soon about the next stop on our road trip 2017, so I hope you’ll join my email list here. That way, you’ll be notified as soon as I post it.
Until next time~