On the heels of yesterday's story about Mt St Helens, I have another story for you about a National Park Service managed volcano in the Cascade mountain range. This one is about hiking in the wilderness of Lassen Volcanic National Park. It comes from a favorite source of original material about parks and the wilderness on the web, the WildeBeat. I've mentioned this website before, but if you haven't had a chance to visit yet, take this opportunity and listen to the latest production about Lassen.
WildeBeat #96 Lassen National Park, part 1
The story makes a couple of points I particularly agreed with. Point number 1, visiting the most popular sites within a park can be fun, despite the crowds. By far the most popular activity at Lassen Volcanic park is the 2.5 mile hike to the top of the mountain. According to Steve Zachary, the park's education specialist, thousands of visitors make this trek each year. The opportunity to summit a mountain and experience the views and unique features of Lassen is special, even if you have to share it with a lot of other folks. I've encountered something similar at the base of Yosemite Falls. There are a ton of people there to view the falls at the same time, but standing below the awesome power and spectacle of the falls, it's easy to get lost in your thoughts, oblivious to the crowd around you experiencing the same thing.
The second point I agree with, is that avoiding the crowds in a park can lead to an equally special experience. Jean Higham in this story takes a four day hike into the Lassen backcountry to explore the area of the park which sees much lower visitation. It's an opportunity to "get away from it all", and experience the unique volcanic landscape. I've experienced something similar, in a sense, at Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming. Nearly all visitors to the monument head to the base of the tower and walk the 1 mile loop. But, there is a 5 mile loop that is virtually ignored. I've hiked that longer loop, not encountered another person, and experienced views of the tower that offer a better perspective for photographing the monument that one would get on the shorter loop.
The audio production at the WildeBeat is top-notch. I'm already looking forward to next week's Lassen story.