We awoke in the Oregon forest more fitting of our idea of Oregon: overcast, cool, and drizzly. Em kept hearing some critters at day break, and asked jay to check them out by nudging him with her knee.  He didn’t see anything.  Maybe they were the same thing that kept Jay up the previous night.  They sound like they dig in the gravel, strange. 

Susan Creek Falls-3We headed on toward Eugene, but Jay wanted to stop at Susan Creek Falls, for no particular reason other than why not.  The short 0.8 mile trail to the falls was easy for us and good for Hoggle in the morning.  We arrived at the nice falls and just about immediately realized we had to go in.  The main falls may be 60 or so feet, which empties into a pool in the pocket of the mountain.  That pool then empties out a small drainage about 5 feet into the creek bed into another smaller pool.  The volcanic rocks around are all moss covered.  It was quite a pretty falls.

Em in Susan Creek Falls-4As we were getting in a family arrived so we had to wait.  But once they left Em got in to the lower pools.  She tried to climb to the upper pools but she just didn’t have the arm or leg length to make the holds.  When Jay got in he remarked at how cold the water was.  Em said just jump in so that’s what he did.  After swimming around he tried to climb into the upper pool and was able to purchase just enough grip on the slippery volcanic rock to climb up into the upper pool.  There the waterfall mists and blows warm air in the pocket of the rock.  It was pretty awesome.

Jon in Susan Creek Falls-3

cavitt creek covered bridge-3After he was done with that we got back on our dry clothes and headed back. We made some lunch and jumped in the van and headed toward Eugene.  On the way we stopped at the Cavitt Creek Covered Bridge for a quick look.  Apparently covered bridges were popular in Oregon for a time.  Then it was full bore on to Eugene. 

IMG_20140703_163839467_HDRWe went to the Rogue Public House to drink some of Rogue Brewing Company beer and eat some early dinner.  We sampled all different styles of their beer and had duck and beef sandwiches for dinner.  The staff liked Hoggle and gave him some treats. We chatted about Eugene with the random dude who hangs out there but when Em asked if he worked there answered, “Sort of.”  We had a nice time enjoying having Hoggle off leash and eating some good food and drinking good beer.  Em also ordered a root beer float for desert. 

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After that we ran some errands – replacing the head lamp Jay lost, getting dog food, some food for us, and then found a place to sleep near an apartment complex.  We had difficulty deciding were to sleep as Eugene doesn’t allow camping in cars.  A sign at Walmart told us so.  Jay looked up the state code the sign cited and didn’t see where the law specifically forbade us from camping there, but Em found info on the web stating that there is a city rule against it (and a petition against this rule). The west coast must be so strict on this because there are so many people in campers around. That’s what we figure anyway.

After much searching, we eventually settled on a street next to some apartment complexes with a lot of cars already there. It was fine until Jay had to go to the bathroom at around 11pm.  There was a 7-11 about a quarter mile away so he went there. The clerk was busy ringing up customers so Jay saw the restroom in the back and made himself at home.  Shortly there after the clerk banged loudly on the door and screamed “no public restrooms!”  Well, that put a damper on things so Jay left as quickly as he could. 

We had a fine night, but in the morning Jay heard some people asking “who’s van is that?”   So we got out of there and went to the grocery store.  We picked up some things and then went and did laundry and then left Eugene.

We found a forest service road near an old growth hiking trail and stayed there for the night.  Jay spent some time on that trail, but mostly exploring the creek at the bottom.  The old growth forest definitely has a different feel than the ones we’re used to seeing – logged and replanted forests. 

We took sponge baths in the very cold creek.  Hoggle played in the field full of flowers.  We cooked dinner.  We went to bed. 

rogue river gorge-4From our Benchmark Atlas of Oregon we saw that there were a few interesting natural features on the Rogue River south of Crater Lake NP.  Going to these would be on our way back to see some more redwoods in California and some of the southern Oregon Coast, but we both agreed that we could skip going back down south for those things.  So our Rogue River adventures would be an in and out kind of thing.

The first stop was the Rogue Gorge, where the river cuts a deep canyon into the volcanic rock.  There was a nice paved trail to see the pretty gorge but not much else.  It reminded us of some of the river gorges in Glacier NP and in New Zealand. 

The next road side adventure was the Natural Bridges of the Rogue River.  In this area the river enters and exits a lava tube and thus for a brief time disappears from sight.  It may not be the most picturesque thing to see, but it was interesting to see a river of water flowing where a river of lava once flowed. 

jon horsing around in rogue river-7The final Rogue River adventure was Mill Creek Falls and Avenue of the Boulders.  This was a little more of a trail than the others.  We ate lunch at the parking lot before heading out.  We first went to Avenue of the Boulders.  The Rogue River enters a section where it flows through, under, and past a lot of large boulders. In the process it makes some nice small swimming holes.  Since we hadn’t showered in a day or more we felt the need to jump in.  The water was cold but bearable. 

em in rogue river-2We played around for a while.  Hoggle took shelter in the shade where he could.  The sun was really hot.  That was the only thing that made the water temperature withstandable.  Jay climbed around on some of the boulders and we both took turns dunking our heads in one of the small cascades.

 

 

 

em and jay mill crek falls-2When enough was enough we packed up and headed toward the waterfalls.  The first was Mills falls, where Mills Creek falls over 160 feet into the Rogue River.  The viewpoints are from the other side of the steep canyon of the Rogue.  It was pretty awesome.  We went a short distance and saw the second falls too.  It might have been even higher, but the flow rate wasn’t quite as high as Mills.  Nevertheless it was still awesome. 

After all that we hiked back up to the parking lot.  Hoggle did a good job of keeping up.  We got back to the van and backtracked north.  Eventually we headed about 75 miles north of crater lake until Jay realized one of the waterfalls he wanted to see, and a hot spring, were back the way we came.  So we decided to turn around and go back the way we come.  Oh well. But we were able to pay the health insurance bill when we had cell service on our detour, so it was not all for naught.

toketee falls HDR processed (aperture mode)-3We finally got to Toketee Falls of of Oregon State Road 138.  It was about six in the evening and the sun was beginning to fall out of the sky as we started our short three quarter mile trek to the falls.  We were now in the lush Oregon forest, like what you think of when you think of Oregon.  Here the North fork of the  Umpqua River carves a gorge in the volcanic rock before plunging into a small pool situated 80 feet above an even larger pool.  The pools are separated by columnar basalt rock, like at Devil’s Postpile.  The columnar basalt forms a great gateway for the river, made even better by the evening sun illuminating it all.  It’s one of Oregon’s most photographed falls and for good reason, it was beautiful.

Hoggle was not impressed as you can only see the falls (without going off trail down the steep canyon walls) from a viewing platform perched on the cliffside.  Hoggle is more into places where he can roam in the bushes.  As it was, he was bored while we looked at the falls and Jay took some pictures. 

We finally left and headed back toward the parking lot.  We were originally going to make dinner there and wait for the sun to fall a little more so Jay could take some different pictures of the falls, but the giant group of Oregon Hillbillies changed our minds.  They arrived in a red Toyota pickup and a Jeep.  They got out, along with a pack of dogs and a million kiddos and hung out in the parking lot smoking pot, cigarettes and drinking while the little kids and dogs ran amuck.  They looked like something right out of Appalachian stereotypes. The patriarch of the group waltzed around with a big beer belly. 

So we headed on to our final destination of the day: Umpqua Hot Springs.  It’s a few miles up a dirt road from the falls.  We made our way there to the well marked trailhead.  There we found a dumpster overflowing with garbage and a toilet that reeked of poop.  Not enticing.

So Jay headed up the steep quarter mile trail to check it out.  He found a picturesque series of pools formed into the hillside overlooking the Umpqua River. When Jay got back we made some soup for dinner and then headed up.  We passed the sign saying nudity was common and if uncomfortable with it, you shouldn’t go. We weren’t, so we went.

When we arrived we found an empty pool and got in.  The water was really hot.  Too hot to stay in for too long without a break.  The warm humid air didn’t do anything to help.  Despite that, it was relaxing to be there in the warm pools.  It was pretty quiet even though there were six or so people there already.  There were a lot of pools to choose from of different temperatures.

After about an hour the sun was well past down and a large group of kids arrived with guitars and beer. Jay was expecting this. Being as we are now old to these kids we decided it was time to leave.  We were ready to go anyway, it was hot and we were running out of water.  And Hoggle was tired of being tied to a root getting bitten by mosquitos.

So we made our way down the trail to the parking lot, showered off quickly with some of our fresh water, and headed up the dirt road to find a camping spot.  The Oregon forest service roads are lacking in good sites to camp. We found a spot that looked unoccupied. There was one tent a little ways up in the woods, but it seemed to have it’s own parking spot further up the road.  We decided to camp there.

So we bedded down and around midnight a truck showed up.  A big group of folks spilled out. It must have been that group of kids that ran us out of the hot springs. As they got out Jay could hear “white van” among their conversation, along with “this looks like the beginning of some serial killer movie and I don’t want to be in it!”  Then their flashlights started peering in through our windows on all sides. It was a bit disconcerting.

When the lights persisted Em called out,  “Can we help you?” And a young girl spoke up and said they were there to party and were going to be loud.  Em was confused, “Can you party somewhere else?” “No, we’ve got our camp set up here already. You can stay if you want, but just wanted to let you know we are going to be loud.”  Ohhh, we were parked in their spot. Whoops! We thanked her for letting us know – she was the only one with the guts to talk to the people in the scary white van, and then we headed on our way after a few minutes, leaving them to their party. We backed the van out and after another ten minutes found another totally unoccupied site for the night.  We got to bed late and slept poorly.


The next day we didn’t do a whole lot. We woke up late after going to bed so late.  We agreed that since Jay hurt his leg the previous evening climbing around the hot tubs we would take it easy.  The first thing we did was find some breakfast to eat because Em wanted a hot breakfast. We happened upon this small inn in the middle of the forest.  They serve breakfast all day, which is good because it was noon by the time we got there.  Jay thought it looked crappy, but Em insisted. Turned out they had delicious French toast, and rhubarb pancake roll-ups, and other great stuff. We feasted while sitting in their nice landscaped garden patio area.  Hoggle even got his own seat from which to watch the kitties that live there roam around the yard.

After eating we drove to a random campground and took showers and cleaned up the van.  Jay cut his hair, which was badly needed, with the clippers we brought along.  Then we hit the road again.

jay in umqua river-4As we were driving down the road Jay remarked how fun it would be to get back in the water.  Since the hair cut wasn’t complete, Em saw something else she wanted to trim, we stopped at a boat launch, trimmed hair, and Jay got in the river.  It was a little chilly, but the hot sun made it fine.  It was warm enough that Em decided she wanted in on the action so when Jay got out she got in too.

Since we had so much fun at the boat launch, but it wasn’t exactly a swimming hole, we decided to drive back up the road and look for one of those.  After much trial and error Em finally found a good spot IMG_20140703_111929842for us.  Still deep water forming a nice pool alongside the river.  As we walked down everyone else cleared out so we had the spot to ourselves. 

We took turns walking up stream and floating down the channel of swift moving water.  Jay even crossed the river once.  After a while we were getting cold and tired so we left to find a place to camp.  This time, a completely empty place.

We found a dirt road and on the way up Jay almost ran over some people’s puppy who decided to run out in the middle of the road.  We kept driving for miles and miles before finally finding a place way up on in the hills. 

Once done in the Mt Shasta area we headed north to Oregon and our first destination there Crater Lake National Park.  On the way up we stopped in a town called Weed, CA where Jay got some nasty overpriced fast food from Burger King.  We also saw a T-shirt shop with shirts adorned with slogans that befitting of a town named after a popular recreational drug.

DSC_3751After Weed we drove north on US Hwy 97 and hit the Oregon border.  Em has been to Oregon once before but Jay never has.  For Jay this is the only US state on our trip he’s never been to. This part of Oregon, and really the majority of Oregon is dry, and this time of year hot. The lush Pacific wonderland Oregon is known for is probably only 1/4 of the state. We have no plans to visit that other 3/4. 

 

DSC_3754Crater Lake was formed when the Volcano Mt Mazama erupted and the center of the volcano collapsed on itself.  Over a period of hundreds of years the caldera filled with water to what is now known as crater lake.  As it was filling another small volcano formed and is now Wizard Island in the lake.  The lake is the deepest in the US at 1,943 deep. 

We drove up to the rim road and peered into the deep blue waters from the rim of the mountain.  What you don’t get a sense of in pictures is that the lake is really high: 6,173 feet, much higher than the surrounding land.  And the lake is truly in a great crater.  Because the lake has no tributaries it is only filled with direct rain and snowmelt from the rim.  Because of this the water is extremely clear and from above a brilliant blue color. 

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But as it turns out there wasn’t a whole lot to do in Crater Lake National Park except look at the lake.  If we were here later in the season when more of the road and trails were open we could hike.  So we drove to the Watchman Overlook where Wizard Island is distinct from the rim of the canyon by a shallow straight of water.  We looked again at the blue lake.

Jay wanted to hike to the top of this small point to the north, so he did that while Em and Hoggle walked around the lookout.  The climb up involved walking up snow banks, but was Jay found out when trying to slide down later, the snow is so soft it’s really impossible to get going except on the steepest slopes. At the top he could see the entire island and the whole rim of the lake.  Then he came down.

IMG_20140630_194941668He found Em sheltered in the van escaping the horrendous swarms of mosquitos. Despite the mosquitos we decided to stick around the viewpoint to watch the sunset and then the stars.  When it was dinner time Em wanted to find a spot that may not be so mosquito heavy for cooking, so we drove down the road, stopped, cooked some couscous, and drove back.  But not before Jay took Hoggle out to enjoy a quick run in the snow.  As you can see.

Jay at this point had some DEET on so he decided to go outside and eat in a cloud of mosquitos. The only problem was every now and then he’d have to pick one out of the food. And swat one from his face. Em took this video of him:

 

Jay Eating With Mosquitos

 

Em had wished she kept the camera rolling for a just couple more seconds, because right after she turned it off, Jay came back inside the van. She asked him why he was eating outside with all the bugs, and without skipping a beat he replied, “Because I wanted to show you how tough I am.” Em IMG_20140630_201810984was very very impressed by Jay’s toughness. 

After dinner Jay went back out, but this time with his trusty mosquito head mask. It was the first time using it this trip.

Sunset came and went; the sun set behind the lake.  We waited a few hours until about ten when the stars were fully out, and bugs had gone to bed.  From the viewpoint you could see the great arc of the milky way above the lake, from north shore to south shore.  It was quite a sight. 

crater lake sunset pano (4)

It was late so we left the park and got to a small forest service road to camp for the night.  We had to share it with another truck  though.  Em wondered if they were axe murderers. Fortunately it turned out that they were not. Or they were taking a break from it at least. 

Mt Shasta and Heart Lake-2As we described in the previous post, Mt Shasta dominates the skyline for miles.  It is truly the monarch of northern California.  This was our first time seeing one of the Cascade Arc volcanoes and they really stand out. 

We drove into town today and passed through Mt Shasta the town to get some groceries before taking the road up the mountain and stopped at Bunny Flats trailhead for a hike.  This trailhead is used by backpackers and climbers, but for short day hiking with a small dog it wasn’t ideal.  Being so close to the mountain you loose a lot of its splendor.  You lose entirely the sense of its prominence over the surrounding land. 

Before we headed out we overheard a woman tattle telling to some clearly uninterested forest service workers that she saw people with two German Shepherds up on the trail and dogs were not allowed.  Not sure why someone would feel the need to tattle on someone for having dogs on a trail, unless maybe they had done something problematic. Turned out she was wrong anyway, dogs were allowed on part of the trail, and the rangers really didn’t seem to care whether or not the dogs were on the part where they were allowed or not. We just heard them say to her, “Well ma’am, the dogs do get a mile on that trail.” We saw the offending German Shepherds later and they were super well trained and behaved dogs not causing any problems. The woman must have been annoying as hell in school.

em jon and hoggle eating lunch-1So considering the views of the mountains we had we only hiked maybe a half mile up the trail before turning back and heading toward something we may like more.  We stopped and had a lunch under a tree before hopping in the van and heading back down the mountain.  We stopped at the hardware store to get some things and headed to Castle Lake.  We heard the views of Mt Shasta from the lake, and the small lake above it, Heart Lake, were amazing.

The weather was great and the lake was well-populated, but not crowded. There was brush around it, but every so often there was a nice little spot to sit right by the lakeshore. Most of these spots were taken, but Em found one and we sat down by the water. The lake was pristine and beautiful. We were hanging out by the lake enjoying ourselves, and considering going for a dip, when something crazy happened.  We heard what sounded like someone pouring a bottle of water out into the lake in the bush right next to us, but the water was coming out at little too fast. Then we thought, “That sounds like somebody pissing!”  Jay says “What the hell is that?”  Em leaned forward around the bush right next to us, and saw a middle-aged woman squatting with toilet paper in her hand, so close Em could have almost reached out and touched her. “Oh my God, I think she IS peeing right in the lake right next to us!!”

We figure the woman had to hear us talking and see us looking at her, we weren’t quiet about it and she was SO close, but she stared straight ahead like we weren’t even there. There was no way she could have even thought she would have had the privacy to do that – this was a busy place! Then to top it all off, we hear the unmistakable sound of her letting out some big nasty loud farts that went on and on for what seemed like ages. Hell, maybe she even did more than just pee in the lake. We did not investigate closer. Wow. Just try to imagine you are lying on the beach relaxing, and someone suddenly comes up next to you, pulls their pants down as you are sunbathing, and starts pissing and farting all over the place right next to you. There was a restroom maybe only 40 yards away! And while yes, we know people often pee in lakes while they are swimming – this was not the same. The end result may be the same as peeing while you are swimming in the lake, urine in the lake water, but psychologically and socially – totally different.

We were both in shock for a moment, but when the woman finished Jay immediately got up with the intention of saying something to her, but the words caught in his throat and instead he just watched her walk back to her spot 20 feet away while giving her the disgusted stink eye.  Em felt like something needed to be said. The lake experience was now just utterly ruined for us. There was NO WAY we were going swimming now. And Em’s hopes of having a relaxing day enjoying the lake were totally spoiled. Now it was just old lady pee and fart, and possibly poop, lake to us. We  just couldn’t see it as anything else. After a little deliberation with Jay, he said he wasn’t going to say anything, so Em decided that she would. She didn’t see where the woman went so she asked Jay to point her out. He pointed the woman out and Em walked over to her. Jay followed. The woman looked nervous as we approached, and Em could tell that she knew what this was going to be about. When Em got to her seat by the lake she asked politely, “Excuse me Ma’am, but did you just use the bathroom in the lake next to us a minute ago?”  And pointed to where the incident had occurred.

“What?” The woman replied. 

Em repeated the question, louder this time.

“Oh, there is a bathroom just in the parking lot over there,” she said this time, either in an attempt to deflect, or maybe she genuinely had trouble hearing Em. But now we knew that she clearly knew that there was a bathroom, and she just was too lazy to walk to it. 

Em said again, even louder,  “No, we don’t need the restroom, but did you just pee in the lake right next to us over there?”  The people nearby, there were about three, were now looking and listening since Em was having to speak so loudly to her. Em had tried to be discreet about it initially, but was practically having to broadcast it at that point.

“No” the woman said weakly, with no elaboration or conviction, in a way that was clearly a half-hearted attempt at denial. 

Em, thrown off by the woman’s lie, looked back at Jay for a second. She had figured someone wiling to do something so blatant must have thought nothing of it, and wouldn’t feel the need to lie about it. She had expected more of a, “Yea, what of it?” type of attitude. After an encouraging look from Jay, Em took a breath and turned back and said resolutely, “Look, my husband and I clearly saw you; we know it was you, you were right next to us.”  The woman looked abashed. Em continued, “That was just…it was a disgusting thing to do — please don’t do that again.”  Em turned to go and Jay piped up adding,  “Yea, that was really gross, people swim here, and there’s a bathroom, don’t do that.”

We hope maybe we prevented others out there from suffering the same fate that we did at the mercy of her bodily functions. Probably not though.

Em and Jon and Hoggle at Mt Shasta-1Since Castle Lake was now ruined for us, we decided to take the hike up to Heart Lake and enjoy the sunset up there.  The trail was pretty short but steep.  Jay was carrying photo equipment, lots of water, Hoggle’s pack, and then after a few minutes Hoggle up the trail.  We got to the saddle above Castle Lake and then the trail kept going over the saddle in what seemed the wrong direction – the lake was above the saddle  Jay pulled out the GPS and confirmed. 

There was another man in the same predicament – turned around – as we were.  So he followed us as he had no water or no food.  Seemed a little foolish but oh well.  I guess it’s better to not be prepared with people who are and who know where to go.  So we all three backtracked and found the social trail up to the lake. 

Mt Shasta and Heart Lake-1It’s a small lake, but Mount Shasta in all its glory towers in the distance.  Jay set up the hammock so Em could relax and read while Jay climbed around, explored, and took pictures in the small valley clinging to the mountain hundreds of feet above Castle Lake.  During Jay’s exploring he heard Hoggle bark in what he would later find out was him very cleverly trying to get food from Em. 

We stayed until a few minutes before sunset before packing up and headed out.  The trip down was slow going.  When we got to the van we found that the tires had not been slashed by the farting lake pisser. That was good. We drove down the mountain and found a nice forest service road to camp on.

jay at subway lava tube (1 of 1)California Hwy 89 heads north from Lassen Volcanic to Mt Shasta.  We spent the next day seeing a couple things along this road.  The first was called Subway Cave which is a quarter mile long lava tube.  We’ve been a few of these on the trip, but this was by far the most spectacular.  It was long, had smaller off-shoot rooms, partial collapses, and with smooth walls and a flat floor.  It almost look like it was man made.  We took turns exploring the cave as Hoggle wasn’t allowed.  Our dim flashlights were not the best at penetrating the complete darkness of the cave.  We didn’t have Jay’s headlamp since he lost it backpacking at Thousand Island Lakes. 

burney falls (9 of 17)We ate lunch after our cave walk and then headed north to Burney Falls.  We were previously told by the volunteer at the ranger station that the falls was the best thing in Northern California.  Jay was skeptical, it was just a waterfall.  We were already planning on seeing it, but his words help us swallow the $8 entrance fee into the state park that controls the falls. 

Again we took turns taking a look at the falls, as dogs were not allowed. The falls is 129 feet tall over volcanic rock.  It’s our guess that the cracks in the rock give the waterfall it’s unique appearance.  There were two main flows over the falls where the river goes over the ledge, but the entire rest of the cliff wall was filled with falling water – fed by those cracks.  It all falls into a large deep blue hole before flowing out into the canyon.  Large trees surround it all. 

We both agreed that it was one of the most picturesque waterfalls we’ve ever seen.  McWay Falls in Juliet Pheipher Burns State Park near Big Sur, CA may have a more spectacular setting, but the waterfall here is better.  It probably is the jewel of northern California. 

burney falls (16 of 17) Jay wanted to take some more pictures when Em got back from her tour so she waited around some more, working on the blog.  By the time he was done it was close to dinner time so we headed back on the highway toward Mt. Shasta.  You can see the mountain easily from the road outside of Lassen, so probably 90 miles or so.  It is massive and prominent beyond anything we’ve seen.  The volcano is the only tall mountain around – no major foothills or ridgelines.  It is 14,000 feet high, but the surrounding country is only 4,000 feet, unlike the 14ers in Colorado that have valley floors at eight to ten thousand feet. The prominence of Mt. Shasta makes it very beautiful to behold.

We found a spot in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest to camp.  We took showers, which felt great, and made some dinner.  In the night Hoggle had a sneeze attack for about an hour, keeping us up. Not sure what caused that, but he must have worked it out. 

lassen volcanic np (1 of 1)We had to drive a long way on the windy California Rd 36 to get to Lassen Volcanic National Park.  Hoggle was getting tired of the winding roads and so were we.  As we drove the climate got noticeably drier until it seemed to be semi arid by the time we hit the valley below the coastal mountain ranges. 

But as we drove further east, and upward to the park, the trees came back along with the cool clear air of higher country.  We entered the park and after a short stop at the visitor’s center we went to Sulphur Works, a small hot spot with a mud pot on the side of the road.  We walked around with Hoggle a bit and then headed on our way to Bumpass Hell.

bumpass hell, lassen volcanic (1 of 6)It’s a short 2.5 mile round trip to bubbling mud pots, steam vents, and other such volcanic  activity at Bumpass Hell; named after a man named Bumpass who stepped into one of the boiling pots and burned his leg.  He had to have it amputated. We debated on whether to sneak Hoggle in the pack or take turns, but we ultimately decided to risk it on the busy trail.

We tucked him into his pack as best we could.  It was a good thing to because not a half mile into the trip we saw a park official on the trail.  Em was able to block his vision enough so Hoggle went undetected.  The trail was beautiful.  It overlooked the valley where an old giant volcano once sat – before it finally blew up.  The mountain peaks now surrounding the valley are remnants of what used to be the rim of the old volcano, which was approximately 8 miles across. 

DSC_3486When we got near Bumpass Hell we took turns with Hoggle. We found out at the mudpot that he freaks out about the strong sulphur smell accompanying these things.  The Hell was really scenic and a lot less crowded than what you find at Yellowstone. We both really enjoyed it.

Our way back was uneventful.  We stopped by Helen Lake, which as at the foot of Lassen Peak, the tallest old volcano in the park, and the first of a string of old volcanoes that goes all the way north into the Cascade Range in Oregon and California. 

We drove on and decided to take in the meadows of the Kings Creek hike before the sun went down.  The falls of Kings Creek was a little far for the time of day.  As we packed Hoggle up in his pack we were stopped by a young woman, named Jennifer, who asked us our opinion of whether being gone 3 hours was too long for a 3 mile hike. Her friend Lawrence had been gone that long, and she was getting concerned. We said that did seem a little long, but not to worry too much just yet, since there is plenty of daylight and she said he likes to take pictures. We told her we were going down the trail and that we’d look for him there.

kings creek falls (3 of 4)As we hiked down we called his name every so often, “Lawrence!”  But we heard nothing. When we saw it wasn’t too much further to the falls we felt we should at least go see if he was there and needed help.  We were hoping we weren’t going on our own Stand By Me trip – in search of a body.  When we got to the falls we looked around and called some more but no luck. We didn’t see any signs of him. The falls were pretty though. 

We huffed it back up above the falls and toward the trailhead during sunset time.  It was pretty as well.  We figured Lawrence probably had gone down another trail, and would probably have returned before we got back. But when we got back Jennifer was still waiting and had some people pulled over. There was no cell reception, so she asked the people to find a camp host at their campground to report the situation. We told her we didn’t find any signs of him on the trail and we would wait with her until help arrived. After about an hour and the sun fully set she said it might be best if we would go call for help too, that having more people out getting help would be better. 

So we hesitantly left her there and attempted to find a Ranger Station or cell phone reception.  After a few failed attempts at tracking down a ranger, the cell finally found reception and Em called 911. It was well after sunset at this point.  Em got through the the park and found out that Lawrence had been found by some rangers and was an hour away from the trailhead.  He must have gotten really lost somehow. We were very glad to find out that everything turned out ok. It was Jennifer’s first time ever camping – we wondered if she would ever go camping again.

We left the park and found a nice dirt road to camp on for the night. 

Stitched PanoramaOur previous night was spent next to Hwy 101, in the $5/night cheaper (comparatively) campsite.  It was noisy.  Our destination for today was Humboldt Redwoods State Park; which is home to some of the largest redwoods in the world.  The trip there took us on the Avenue of the Giants, a two lane state highway that meanders through one massive redwood grove after another.  They get so tall and thick you need headlights on just to drive safely. 

We stopped at a tourist attraction so Jay could clean the solar panel.  He was very intent on cleaning it.  Since it rained the previous night under the trees it was filthy.  It’s very difficult to reach the whole thing without the use of a ladder or Walmart shopping cart but he did the best he could from the rear bumper. 

Em at Humboldt Redwoods (3 of 8)After all that was done we arrived in the park.  We stopped briefly at the visitor’s center before heading on to Rockefeller Grove. Named after John D Rockefeller Jr., who donated a million dollars to help preserve the redwoods because he was so impressed with the trees after having lunch there. The grove is home to a thick stand of massive redwoods. Most are well over 8 feet in diameter it seemed. The fallen trees were just as massive.

Dogs not allowed. We loaded Hoggle in the pack and set out on the loop, our necks straining to see the tops of the 300+ foot trees.  We took a short detour across Bull Creek to check out another grove, but quickly turned back on the main trail.

Humboldt Redwoods (19 of 37)We got back in the van and headed up a small side road that narrows as it passes the giant trees to the Bull Creek/Homestead loop trail, recommended as one of the best hikes by a website Jay found on the internet. We loaded Hoggle up again and headed on.  After about 100 yards we took him out and let him walk the rest of the 2+ mile way.  Em was intent on civil disobedience against the illegitimate (in her opinion) ban on dogs on trails. 1984 was making her feel particularly rebellious, and she ranted about how tired she is of stupid rules about dogs not being allowed on hiking trails for the better part of the hike. If you aren’t allowed outdoors in the woods with your dog, where the hell are you allowed to go?? That’s what she wanted to know. Down with Big Brother!! Stick it to the man!!! Since we were walking all over horse shit the whole time on the trail, while picking up after our pup’s poo, we didn’t feel one bit of guilt about breaking the rules. The redwoods did not seem to have any complaints about Hoggle’s presence either.

This trail meanders a mile or so through and above more redwood groves until we hit the highway.  We’ve found that most of the trails are poorly labeled in the park, but once we had to cross the main road to complete the loop all signage was gone.  Jay saw what looked like an unofficial social trail on an unlabeled pull-off and figured it had to be the trail.  It was, thank goodness.

But unthankfully the trail had to cross a creek.  So we waded with Hoggle across and the trail dumped into a field, and we had to find our way to where the trail continued after wandering through a campground, and past the entrance of the campground and then down the road.  It was one unmarked trail after another. 

Humboldt Redwoods (37 of 37)

We finally made it back to the van without incident and headed on our way.  There is a national forest, Shasta Trinity, not too far East, on our way to Lassen Volcanic NP.  It was dark by the time we got there though, and it seems that this national forest is mostly privately owned, as trying to find a road to camp on seemed nearly impossible.  We finally found a narrow one lane road, so narrow we were constantly brushing bushes on poor Joy’s homemade paint job.  Jay was intent, despite the late hour, to find a nice campsite. He kept driving and driving and driving up and up this curvy narrow road.  Em’s repeated requests to just park in a pull-off on the side of the road fell on deaf ears. She watched with growing despair as they passed lovely pull-off after pull-off. Would we ever get to go to bed? Finally, finally, Jay gave up and settled for a pull-off roadside spot. No one drove by the entire night or the next morning. 

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