Section N of the PCT includes Mt. Lassen National Park. This series includes portions of the trail leading into and out of the Park as well as the Park. Unfortunately, the PCT passes through the eastern side of Lassen and misses some of the Park’s more impressive features. I was lucky to have Peggy exploring the Park from the road while I hiked the trail, so this post will feature photographs from both of us.
In 1988, I led a backpack trek in Mt. Lassen National Park to honor my old friend Orvis Agee. His family lived near the mountain and he had been working outside on the family ranch when it erupted on May 22, 1915. He was an impressionable 12-year-old. Fifty-eight years later when Orvis joined me on the first hundred-mile backpack trip I led in 1974, the memory was still fresh in his mind.
By the end of that trek, Orvis had become an inspiration for me on what older people can accomplish— and a friend. He proved that an active lifestyle doesn’t have to end at 60, or 70, or even 80, assuming you are healthy. In 1980, Orvis took me to the top of the top of the nearby 14,180 foot Mt. Shasta, a mountain he had climbed many times starting at age 60. He made his 30th and final ascent at 85. He went on his last backpack trek with me at 87! Peggy was along on that week-long expedition. We had just started our relationship and it was her first long distant trek. Given how much I enjoyed backpacking and liked Peggy, I really wanted her to enjoy the experience. I figured that hiking with Orvis would help. It did. As she noted to me later, “It’s really hard to complain when an 87-year-old cheerfully hikes down the trail beside you and sings “Wake Up Little Buttercup” to you in the morning.” Indeed.
Mt. Lassen sits near the southern end of the Cascade Range, a volcanic chain of mountains that reaches from Northern California into British Columbia. It is one of only two mountains that erupted in the contiguous United States during the 20th Century. Mt. St. Helens was the other. (I flew over Mt. St. Helens shortly after it had erupted and was amazed by the devastation.) Lassen, still active, serves as a laboratory for volcanologists and is closely monitored. Oceanic plates diving under the continents and islands around the Pacific Ocean assure continuing volcanic activity, not only for Lassen, but for volcanos all around the Pacific Rim.
I found the Manzanita roots along the PCT near Mt. Lassen strange enough to feature on my Halloween post. Today, I want to focus on the rest of the plant. I was raised in what is known as the chaparral belt of the Sierra foothills where manzanita is common. As kids, we went on outings to gather the large mushrooms that grew under the bushes in a symbiotic relationship with their roots. It was like a treasure hunt.We’d bring the mushrooms home, slice them up, and then dry them on the woodstove that heated our house. My mother then added them to a number of dishes like spaghetti and beef stroganoff where they contributed their unique flavor and texture.
Our property in Southern Oregon also includes a number of manzanita bushes, but I have yet to find mushrooms under them. One of the bushes grows just outside our backdoor. Deer like to bed down near it, which seems a little strange since it features a deer skull. Peggy had found a dead deer on the road near our house, victim of an unfortunate encounter with a car. She decided that it would be interesting to cut off its head, bring it up to our yard, and let nature (translate maggots) clean it off. (Think of it as a scientific experiment.) When I had appeared reluctant to carry out the chore, she had persuaded a deer-hunting neighbor to do it, paying him with a can of beer and a Peggy-smile.
The plant is sturdy and can be quite beautiful with its entangled limbs and smooth, skin-like bark. It is often used in decorations. I found the dead bushes along the PCT l particularly striking.
Peggy and I are on our way to Mexico for three weeks, so my posts on the trip down the PCT will be put on hold until I return. My plan is to feature some older posts, which will give followers a perspective on the variety of subjects they can find on my blog that I have covered over the past ten years.
39 thoughts on “An Active Volcano and an Interesting Bush… Hiking the PCT through Mt. Lassen National Park”
This was excellent Curt have a good trip to Mexico. I will share you post.
Thank you Kelly! Much appreciated. –Curt
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Wonderful pics and commentary. Enjoy Mexico. Orvis Agee is a fantastic inspiration.
Indeed he was Peggy! I owe him a great deal. And I am sure that everyone who ever hiked with him feels the same way. Thanks, and we will. –Curt
Had to laugh at the not being able to complain when someone much older is perky and sining “buttercup”. It was hard to keep up with some of the almost 90 yr olds in your family and friends. (One can ride the socks off mt bike riders half his age, and forget trying to keep up with his skiing) Stay active and get ready to do the same for those younger than you – they need/will need guiding and goals to shoot for themselves – you and Peg can duet “Buttercup”?
Have a nice trip (Love so many of these photos!)
Thanks, Phil. It is a different time for older folks with lots more options open! Peggy and I put a fair amount of emphasis on that while telling our tales. Off to Mexico! 🙂 –Curt
Oh my another set of such beautiful pictures – loved that reflection shot! Enjoy Mexico!
Thanks, MB. I can never resist reflection shots. 🙂 –Curt
Seems as though no matter where you go, we surely live in some marvelous country here! Have a great wonderful time in Mexico! Looking forward to perhaps visiting some earlier posts I may have missed.
Thanks, Gunta. Enjoy my revisit to the past. 🙂 –Curt
Happy travels. You can never go wrong with Mexico. Have a great time.
Thanks, Alison. And you are absolutely right. You should know! 🙂 –Curt
Orvis sounds like an incredible person and a true inspiration! Have a wonderful trip to Mexico. We are headed there on Saturday for two weeks. Now wouldn’t that be something if we ran into each other. 🙂
Wouldn’t it be! 🙂 Thanks, Sue. –Curt
Not only beautiful pictures but interesting stories as well.
Thanks Robert for visiting and your comments. Over the next two weeks I will be featuring posts to introduce readers to the variety of posts they can expect to find on my blog. –Curt
Reminded me of my climb to the top of Mount Vesuvius. Is it a little crazy to climb an active volcano? I like all of the pictures but especially the final bush pictures.
“Active” is always interesting Andrew. It may blow tomorrow or 10,000 years from now! 🙂 Given a few small earthquakes in the area and you wouldn’t find me anywhere near the volcano! And the manzanita is special. –Curt
You and Peggy do a great job in showing everyone the beauty of this country and what a great experience it is to go out into it!
Thanks, G. It’s one of the things that we love to do, and hope to accomplish. –Curt
Love the reflection photo and the black & white. Orvis has inspired me, too. Wow. I need to make hiking till I’m 87 my goal.
Thanks, Crystal. And laughing. Me too! –Curt
Enjoy the trip to Mexico, Curt.
Such absolutely beautiful images. Have a wonderful time in Mexico Curt.
Thanks, Sylvia. And Peggy and are properly enjoying Mexico. –Curt
Volcanos are terrible and impressive. Recently saw a short video of a lava river — the speed was terrifying! Yours has left some incredible pebbles 😉 Enjoy Mexico.
Thanks, AC. I’ve seen rivers of lava in Hawaii but the are usually slow enough to get out of their way! –Curt
Those boulders are amazing – to think of the force needed to expel them. No wonder our ancestors told stories of giants …
You’d be just a bit nervous, Dave, if one came bouncing by you. Almost give a person religion. (grin) –Curt
Ha, almost … 🙂
Love the deer skull in the tree — very O’Keeffe-ish. I used to wander the property outside Kerrville hanging limestone rocks that had holes in them from the limbs of trees. I like the white bush branches against the live manzanita, too. I know you’ll find equally colorful sights in Mexico — have fun!
Wonder if the does ever tell their fawns, “That’s your great grandfather. He always was careless when it came to crossing roads. Let that be a lesson to you.”
Enjoying Mexico as always. The Trump t-shirts are quite interesting, as you might imagine. –Curt
I came across Kelly Jones Nutrition recently. I got to reading the content and thought it was very insightful and helpful!. Also love the Tolkien references!
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my gosh….. I meant Curt not Kelly, my mistake! and obviously your site ” Wandering Through Time and Place”!
🙂 It happens, Ben. I’ve been there. Thanks. –Curt