Trip Report: Lassen NP 6/24-6/27

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trojan2020
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Trip Report: Lassen NP 6/24-6/27

Post by trojan2020 » Sun Jun 28, 2020 9:59 pm

Hello! Last week I went on my first ever solo backpacking trip in Lassen National Park! This was a shakedown hike for some long hikes I have planned this summer (JMT, TRT)--as such, I was mainly focused on testing some new gear I got, and getting comfortable with being alone in the wilderness, since all other backpacking trips I've done have been in a group.

Day 1: I got to Lassen at around 1PM on Wednesday (6/24). After stopping off at the visitor center to get my backcountry permit, I drove up to the Summit Lakes Trailhead. I finally got on the trail at 2PM, with the goal of making it to Rainbow Lake before it got dark. I passed Summit Lake, and then headed up towards the cluster lakes. I was huffing and puffing since I live at sea level, and my body wasn't prepared to have me schlepping around a 30 lb. pack at 6000'. It was pretty windy and slightly cloudy, and I could see off in the distance some dark storm clouds, though it appeared they were moving away from me. After passing Big Bear and Little Bear lake, I took a right and passed Silver Lake and Feather Lake. During this time, I was in awe by the sheer amount of burnt/fallen trees that were in the area. I saw maybe 7 people this whole time, including a couple who asked if "things were any greener from where I came" and looked crestfallen when I reported that everything was burnt and that their best bet was just to camp at Feather Lake. I finally made my way to Lower Twin Lake at ~5:30PM. I made the mistake of stopping to drink some water and was immediately attacked by what felt like hundreds of mosquitoes, despite having seen 0 mosquitoes before then. I quickly carried on and made it to Rainbow Lake by 6PM. I was pleasantly surprised to find that there were no mosquitoes at Rainbow Lake, though that might have been because I camped several hundred yards away from the lake itself. I set up camp, ate, and went to bed.

Day 2: The next morning I awoke, went down to the lake to filter some water, and was immediately eaten alive by mosquitoes. I retreated to my tent to cook breakfast and pack up, and in doing so saw someone camping ~10 feet from the lake... perhaps they thought that LNT guidelines didn't apply to them. I set out by 7AM with the intent of summiting Cinder Cone. I arrived at Cinder Cone, and absolutely struggled to get to the top. It felt like every step I took forward resulted in me sliding 1 step back, since the slope up to the top is very stepped, and made of nothing but loose stones/ash/sand. I probably didn't do myself any favors by bringing my pack up with me, instead of just leaving it at the base. I finally got to the top, and took in my surroundings. It was cool to see the burnt area I walked through from up high, as well as the view of Lassen Peak. I made my way down and headed off towards Butte Lake. The hike itself was not hard, but the black volcanic sand/ash/whatever it is that you walk along from Cinder Cone to Butte Lake really makes for a great calf workout. I stopped at Butte Lake for a leisurely swim and lunch, and then headed to my final destination: Snag Lake. I passed 0 people from Butte to Snag, so I was definitely feeling the solitude. I got to my destination (north Snag Lake) at 3:30PM and found a great campsite with a nice view of the lake. I putzed around for a bit, filtered some water, and finally decided to cook dinner. I made ramen noodles with peanut sauce, and as I was sitting atop my bear can, staring out into the lake, the hairs on the back of my head started to stand up. I looked behind me and there was a bear ~5 feet from me, eyeing the ramen noodle package that was directly next to my bear can. I startled it and it startled me, and it ran away, but then turned around to look at me. I took to yelling and bashing some sticks, and then finally throwing massive pinecones at it before it trundled off into the woods. I quickly ate my dinner and hopped in my tent, and barely slept a wink, since I thought every noise I heard was the bear coming to finish me off. It's worth noting that I stored my bear can well away from my campsite, and was very cognizant about putting all food/smellables/toiletries in my bear can. It seemed that this bear was more curious than anything, but it still scared the hell out of me, especially since I don't think there was anyone else within a mile's radius of me.

Day 3: I woke up in the morning to find my bear can untouched, and I was eager to get out of the area, lest the bear want to try his/her luck again. The mosquitoes were swarming me at the campsite, and they continued to follow me through Cameron Meadow before finally abating at Juniper Lake. The plan for the day was to hike down to Juniper Lake, then hit Horseshoe Lake, and finally end up camping at Lower Twin Lake. It was a pretty uneventful day, but it was dreadfully hot. Due to all the burnt trees, there wasn't a ton of tree cover, but it felt quick nice in what little shade there was. The hike wasn't all that strenuous, but the little rolling hills that I encountered had a way of winding me, probably because I still wasn't that acclimated to the elevation. Only passed around 5 people on the trail that day, though once I got to Lower Twin Lake I saw hordes of people hiking in, presumably so they could do some backpacking over the weekend. I managed to snag a nice pre-existing campsite that was away from Lower Twin Lake, though I saw at least 2 parties that were camped <20 feet from the lake. It's worth noting that none of the lakes were all that "cold" at the surface, and most felt pretty tepid unless you were a few feet below the surface. At the campsite the mosquitoes were practically nonexistent, though there were some rather large ants that crawled over anything and everything on the ground. Ate a nice dinner, watched the sunset, and hit the hay.

Day 4: I got up and could see the mosquitoes hanging out on my tent. At this point I had at least 30+ bites on my body from the previous days, and didn't have it in me to fight these mosquitoes just so I could eat my breakfast. I quickly broke camp, and hiked pasted Upper Twin Lake and Echo Lake before stopping to inhale a Clif Bar. Saw some people camping at Echo Lake, despite the obvious no camping signage. Made it to my car by 8:45AM, and headed home!

Overall, I had a nice little trip and made note of various tweaks I have to make to my gear. It was really toasty the whole trips (probably low 80s during the day?) and it never really cooled down at night. I brought thermals, but ended up sweating profusely inside my tent when I wore them. Even in the mornings, it was probably only in the 50s. There was no snow on any of the trails, and all the trails I was on were nicely cleared. I think mosquito season is officially here, so come prepared unless you want to be eaten alive.

Pictures of various lakes I saw can be seen here!

This is my first post, so hopefully I didn't violate any rules, but any critiques are welcome! Thanks for reading.








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bwd
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Re: Trip Report: Lassen NP 6/24-6/27

Post by bwd » Mon Jun 29, 2020 1:30 pm

Your day 2 bear story made me smile. Glad to know I'm not the only one who has spent all night in bed fretting about our ursine friends.

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Re: Trip Report: Lassen NP 6/24-6/27

Post by SSSdave » Mon Jun 29, 2020 3:01 pm

trojan2020 wrote:
Sun Jun 28, 2020 9:59 pm
Hello! Last week I went on my first ever solo backpacking trip in Lassen National Park! ...and barely slept a wink, since I thought every noise I heard was the bear coming to finish me off... but it still scared the hell out of me, especially since I don't think there was anyone else within a mile's radius of me...
I got up and could see the mosquitoes hanging out on my tent. At this point I had at least 30+ bites on my body from the previous days, and didn't have it in me to fight these mosquitoes just so I could eat my breakfast.


Another pilgrim probably needing the gift of 100% DEET, full body clothing, and head gear. And now you know how our ancestors felt out hunting alone far from others during a creepy twig crackling night. So advice on avoiding bears in bear country and mosquitoes.

The more well used a camp spot along lake edges and trails, the more likely bears will visit since that is where they find 98% of people and their yummy Gallo salamis and Snickers. Thus the wisdom of camping well away from such places even if one may need to walk a minor ways to fetch water. About Snag Lake, good spots would be at the north end of the lake on the east side of the lake, and at least 50 vertically feet up from the shore right beside the Fantastic Lava Beds where if one looks at the satellite image will see areas of smooth black erosion sands that have eroded off the glassy beds. As that is 1/2 mile from the trail, one is unlikely to even see footprints anywhere above the lake edge more than a short distance from the trail. And nicely being away from all that green vegetation and forest along the rest of the east shore, there would be far less mosquitoes, as to a squeet, that dry volcanic expanse west of the trail might as well be the Sahara Desert.

https://caltopo.com/map.html#ll=40.5236 ... &b=sat&a=c

Also looking at the satellite before a trip, one could see what areas were burned.

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