Frank and I took a ride through Lassen National Park last week. Just in the nick-of-time, too. The color had come, had it's celebration and was packing up for winter by the time we had time for the ride.
High winds had knocked most of the leaves off the aspens but with bit of hiking we found some of the smaller groves protected by the cliffs or larger trees.
The day was exquisite. Sun shining and 81 degrees at 6600' elevation. Even the wind cooperated and didn't jiggle the leaves...too much.
When hiking through the woods to get to the little stands of colors you careful with each step. The ground is like ash and riddled with squirrel tunnels. The ashen soil makes it easy to dig through but I would imagine that the life expectancy of a Lassen ground squirrel is cut short from serious cases of lung disease (or photographer suddenly crashing through the ground above!).
Devastation Area over looks a wonderful ridge. If you are there at just the right time, the striations in the soil are brilliant. Luck was with us and we were there at the perfect moment. As I hiked to the good spot, I sang as loud as I could, "Mountain Lion don't eat me, here I come" to the tune of Oh Susannah. None of the cougars snacked on me. There are times being tone deaf has it's benefits.
I hiked to this spot on my own while Frank climbed a small hill to photograph a couple of bright gold groves in a little valley. He was across the road from me.
I glanced up between shots and could see a man walking down the road; a rare sight on the Lassen roads. Most people park and hike the trails. I thought the man might be Frank, so I called out to him.
"Yes!" came back to me from 10 feet on the other side of the little grove. I absolutely didn't hear him approach in that soft earth.
We went to the road and no one was there; no walking man; no parked car; no sounds of engines.
A little bit scary.
Next visit to Lassen will probably be with kids, grand-kids and sleds. Can't forget the hot chocolate, marshmallows, a million mugs because hot cocoa in disposable cups is just wrong.
We will bring a load of tangerines, oranges, sandwiches and, with any luck, a couple of large hot Kickers from Dutch Bros.
The kids will break off six foot icicles from the side of the building and perform scenes from Princess Bride.
See you in a couple of months, Mountain. I hope you get a great coat of white snow this year. Sledding on rocks last year really sucked!
What is your favorite aspect of Autumn?