October 20, 2014

Mt Lassen Celebrates Autumn

Gold has often lead people to great downfalls. Yesterday, I confess, the promise of gold had me in it's grip most of the day. After dropping my husband off at a trail head just east of Hat Lake parking area, I headed out to capture as much gold as I could.

Returning to wait for Frank to hike back up the trail, I sat on a rock to finish reading my club book selection for Wednesday's discussion on the way to Ashland. 

The scream of a hawk made me look up! No hawk to be seen, but Mt. Lassen was right there, between the trees. How could I have missed taking her portrait the whole day. Now the sun was just about to set, putting the grand lady in a shadow and entirely too much glare.  I took the picture anyway.

They say "a picture is worth a thousand words" and this picture says it all. Gold is still capturing souls. I was so busy looking for the trees, I missed the forest, or in this case, the Queen!

After snapping a couple of photos of her Majesty, I read out loud to her and the hawk, sitting on a large rock. A wonderful end to a wonderful day.

The gold was there to be found, though, and I brought home some nuggets from my day of mining.

The Aspens were dressed in glorious colors, though the wind was blowing and with each picture a hundred leaves would dance around, then fall to the ground.

I found the tree to the left with almost all her branches reaching to the east. An unrequited love for the sun?

The sky to the north was the most brilliant sapphire blue; quite the background for leaves so orange.

Driving around Lassen Park, I would park my car here and there. Then take a short hike to the glimpses of Aspens spied through the green pines.

A devastating fire blasted through the park, destroying so much of the dense forest but thankfully many of the aspens groves survived. There is a large grove just south of Devastation Area; quite a hike in soft lava dust which is extensively undermined my ground squirrels. Not a fun hike for most and certainly not advised for anyone with bad knees or hips.

This is the grove that survived the fire, though right after the fire, the trunks showed signs of being scorched. We worried about them all winter but discovered fresh leaves on the trees last spring.

Here you can some of the trees that didn't survive; a very small part of the horrible loss the park suffered in the fire. The damage follows the road for miles.

For any of you that know me personally, you have to know how scary it was for me to stand this close to the edge of the cliff to get this picture.

Many prayers were said, with great reverence!

Frank hiked up the Hat Lake Trail and photographed another beautiful grove of aspens, then hiked down to this grove from the south side. I wouldn't advise anyone with heart problems to attempt the hike. It's a great hike down but an incredibly challenging hike back up!

When he returned to the car, I told him how easy it was to get to the edge of the cliffs. I found myself back there in minutes as he took the same shots which I will not be sharing with you because they were so much better than mine.  p.s. his camera is much better, his lenses are much better and he is much more knowledgeable about things like ISO, aperture, shutter speed. I just put the little black do-ma-jig to P and aim! 

Isn't it strange how we can be so focused on one idea or goal that we can become blind to so many wondrous things right in front of us?

All day, the goal was to photograph autumn leaves. Late in the day, I realized how beautiful the shadows are as they dance on the white bark. The contrast is lovely, especially surrounded by golden leaves, sapphire blue sky and pine needles.

How many other wondrous and whimsical events had I missed during the day?

I had missed the tiniest inhabitants of Lassen Park.

They were just as beautiful as the Aspens but much more shy, hiding behind the rocks and fallen stumps.

Can you imagine mountain fairies wrapping themselves in these little leaves at night for warmth; maybe using them for frilly skirts to waltz in at the Fairy Octoberfest?

Then, there were the pine cones, probably placed on the rocks by children as I believe they are way too heavy for fairies to lift.

There is a cluster of sisters whispering to each other as the breeze whistles at them.  What secrets do they share with each other? Are they planning their elegant spring gowns? Maybe they are discussing their longing for the coming winter nap when they sleep and dream under their white blankets of snow.

Forest friends. Are the pines promising to keep watch while the solo Aspens slumber?

Have you ever noticed how the aura of one tree will blend with the aura of it's neighbor?

These two trees look as if they are preparing for Christmas.

Can you imagine decorating your Noble Fir only with glistening balls of gold?

Santa would be sure to visit, if not just to admire your sense of style!

All in all, Lassen was beautiful yesterday.

I put the camera aside many times to just be with the trees and the mountains; to listen to the music of the wind. I even made some headway in the book, wondering if the old man ever made it to the mountains.

If we had waited, just one more day, all the leaves would be blanketing the ground. The trees would be bare. There is rain and wind and maybe snow in Lassen Park today. The prefect recipe for stripping the last vestiges of autumn from deciduous plants, rocking them to sleep for the long winter.

We'll be seeing you when the snow is deep enough for grandchildren to sled down slopes. We will make snowmen and have snowball fights.  Uncle John and Uncle Adam will prepare the perfect slide tracks. Auntie Ashley will race you down the hill. Auntie Becky will pull Nana out of the snow that has trapped her....again.  Uncle Brian, will hopefully enjoy the day and not break or twist any body parts. Auntie Nicole will photograph it all.

Nana will sneak back to the car and sip some peppermint schnapps, peel oranges for the adventurous kids and, perhaps, surprise them all with clean, dry socks!


  1. Some amazing photography to couple with your words....a lovely blog! :-)

  2. Nice photos! I'm glad you're back.

  3. Carrie, Thank you. Photography is one of my loves and it helps that my husband is a professional...I get lots of hints.

  4. Anonymous, Thank you. It's good to be back.


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