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340. Cinder Cone (09/12/03)

Hikers (16): Barbara, Cal, David, Ernie, Eugene, Jayne, Laurie, Neel, Oliver, Peter, Russ, Steve, Sue, Sue B, Taylor, Winnie
Distance: 4 miles
Rating: 2 difficulty, 10 beauty
Park info: Lassen Volcanic National Park

Write-up by Cal -- Pictures by Cal

Another great day for hiking in Lassen! After spending our obligatory one-hour at the Mineral Lodge restaurant we headed off for our day of hiking. Today’s hiking location was in the upper right corner of the park and required we drive Route 89 through and out of the park. Along the way we stopped at the Subway Cave on Route 89 just past the junction of Route 44. It was formed when lava running in a valley was cooled from the top creating a roof, and the lava flowed out leaving the hollow tube.

There Is An Alien Among Us: We all started into the cave with our flashlights on, making sure not to bump our heads on the low ceiling. Peter asked that we all put our lights out to experience the total darkness. I took a picture at that point and saw this strange alien creature appear.


Inside the lava tube with a member of the galactic Dobie race


We were all ready to get going so some doubled back through the cave and others exited at the end and took the surface trail back to the cars. Sorry, no leaf for this adventure, but it was neat just the same.

We had to take a 3-4 mile dirt road off Route 44 to get to our hiking location. If your car wasn’t dirty starting out, it was when you finished. It also was a great test for Sue B's new BMW and the “Low Rider” white party van.

An INCH Miracle: After doing Brokeoff Peak the day before, I certainly was tired and wondered if I could make Propect Peak (which was the schedule first of two hikes this day). If I couldn’t, than I would likely miss out on two leaves and also get one black one. Than it happened -- an INCH miracle! We missed the turn to Prospect Peak (unusual ... NO!) and we ended up at Cinder Cone. Peter decided to do Cinder Cone while we were there anyway, an easy Level 2 hike. At least I would get one leaf. And away we went to hike the volcano .....

1, 2, 3, ... INCH!

The Struggle: As soon as I started up this 70 degree trail (It was really about 20 degrees although it looked and felt like 70 degrees), I knew I was in trouble. The trail consisted of loose cinders and for every step forward, it seemed that you slipped back one. Every INCHer had their own style of hiking this torture. Some walked like ducks, others put their feet in the prints of previous people who had somewhat packed the cinders, other relied on hiking poles with baskets. I just kept wondering when this torment would be over. The only consolation was that everyone else found this difficult. As usual, Steve was the first to the top followed by Neel, then Russ, and finally the rest of the crew.


Trail up the side of Cinder Cone


The Rim Walk: Once we all reached the top, we walked clockwise around the rim of the volcano looking at the various results from the eruption such as the Fantastic Lava Beds, the Painted Dunes, and the areas of desolation.


Walking the rim of Cinder Cone





View of the Fantastic Lava Beds





View of the Painted Dunes





View of the Desolation Area


On The Edge: After walking the volcano rim, we all started to the volcano center to see the crater. It appears to be several hundred feet deep with a trail leading to the bottom.


Taylor, Peter, Steve, Russ, David and Sue G standing at the edge of the crater


He Must Be Crazy: Not only had we walked up this quicksand of a trail to get to the top -- the hardest Level 2 hike I ever did -- but Oliver decided he wanted to go to the bottom of the crater. Down he went with the rest of us cheering him on. Five, Four, Three, Two, One ... he steps to the official bottom pile of rocks. Well enough of that – lets get going -- but what about Oliver? In the true tradition of INCH, we headed back leaving Oliver to climb out - every man for himself!


Oliver climbing out of the center of the volcano. Obviously, we are far away by this time!


An Astronomical Event: What I’m about to relate is a tale about an astronomical event that occurred at the top of Cinder Cone this day. I was not an eyewitness to this but like all tales there is some basis of fact. I believe the Russ and Steve were the only witnesses to this unusual occurrence. It was an extremely bright day, the sun was high in the sky and then it happened. Both Russ and Steve saw the Moon. Not a harvest moon or a crescent moon but a full moon. Amazing! Both David and I agree that we are glad we didn’t see this event for it would have struck fear into our hearts.

Slip'n And Slid'n Away As hard as it was climbing up Cinder Cone, going down was easy. Eugene used his Mt. Fuji / Third Reich sliding approach (you have to ask him to demo it for you) and effectively skied down on the loose cinders. Since Eugene was wearing gaters it was fine for him; the rest of us got our boots full of lava dust.

With this “warm up” hike out of the way, we were now ready to tackle Prospect Peak! (For a great bird's eye view showing the beautfiul symmetry of Cinder Cone, check out the picture taken from the Prospect Peak Trail).

Milestones:
David's 20th leaf



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