Mount Lassen, Pt. 2

I know this second half has been a long time coming. Apologies. See the first part of our Lassen adventure here:

The Adventuring Commences

So here I am, sitting next to Summit Lake with ants crawling over my awesome flip-flop-and-sock combo, reveling in being so very alive right this second. Which is pretty damn amazing, all by itself.

But the camp is stirring and I head back to commence the packing up and heading out routine. We breakfast and break camp, packing and repacking packs.

We set out on the trail from the Summit Lake ranger station. It immediately winds on a plank walkway through an immposibly green meadow, then gently up.

Heading out

After maybe a quarter mile, we stop to readjust Yolanda’s pack. Of all of us, her pack takes the most adjusting and readjusting. Also, she complains the most. She’s a trooper but she likes to remind us frequently of that fact. It’s also discovered that she loaded her camelbak bladder COMPLETELY FULL, so we dump a bunch of the water and then she feels much comfier.

Trail name: Lil Trooper

  Isabel, on the other hand, is trying to see just how far ahead of the rest of the pack she can get. I keep catching glimpses of her through the trees as we race up the first set of hills.

Soon enough we’ve come up and through a lovely low manzanita forest, with views of Mt. Lassen looming right behind us and down the other side to Echo Lake. This is our first break for the day. Everyone takes off their packs, breaks out some snacks and rests for awhile. This section of trail is a popular day hike and we see lots of other hikers and rangers as we rest.

Dad at Echo Lake, wearing the pack he bought in 1969. It might be time for an upgrade.
Trail name: Zipper

From Echo Lake we continue to wind through forest, over ridges and past tiny unnamed lakes. The soil is sandy and there is an interesting mix of volcanic rock and granite. We reach a campsite at Lower Twin Lake in mid-afternoon and everyone decides to call it a day. There is the bustle of setting up camp and then the soft realization that this is all we have to do. Talk to each other. Dip our feet in the soft muddy floor of the lake. Lay back and look at the clouds. This is the part that feeds my soul. Not the views or the challenge or the gear (though those are all important and fun in their own way). Just the complete disconnect from everything when all I have to do is spend time with the people I love best in the world.

Lower Twin Lake. Photo Credit: Sally Potratz
Cowboy Camping Photo Credit: Sally Potratz
Dirty feet, playing cards

That night, after dinner and playing cards and scaring the hell out of a nice ranger with our loud tickling game, it was bedtime as the sun set. Mom and dad had their small backpacking tent, but we were sleeping al fresco. Laying down head-to-head, I listening to the whispers and diminishing sighs of my sweet daughters. I maybe had a twinge of nervousness as the giant night laid it’s pitch black hand over us, but I knew my daughters trusted me and, strangely, that is what makes us trust ourselves sometimes.

When I woke up in the middle of the night, I had to sit up for a minute to absorb the scope of the  stars pinwheeling over us. That is what I miss most, living in a city in a valley. There are very few stars. But something else was happening and it wasn’t majestic or magical. It was just a migraine.

The same ‘ol pinchy, pukey, wretched migraine I’ve been having since I was eighteen. With bonus dizziness, probably from the elevation. I drank some water and tried to get back to sleep. By the time the sun was coming up, I was in full shut-down. Tried to take an Imitrex (my magic pill of choice) but almost immediately puked it up. Couldn’t eat. Couldn’t drink (not even coffee! Wah!!). Isabel wasn’t feeling very well either, likely also from the elevation. After breakfast and packing up camp, it was decided–mostly by Mom and Dad and Sally; I wasn’t good for much–that we would head back out, instead of continuing on the rest of our planned loop. We were all disappointed but it was definitely the right choice.

Once we got moving I began to feel a little better. We hiked slowly, took lots of breaks and pictures and ate plenty of snacks. I listened to my dad telling Yolanda all the stories that I remember of his childhood in the wild backcountry of Humboldt County. I love to hear how his brothers, that I barely had the chance to know, come alive as he talks about trestles and trains and poison oak and goats and childhood. I listened to Yolanda make up the looongest, ramblingest story in return. I looked around every turn of the trail for Sally and Isabel, who were pushing each other to hike faster, faster! I discussed the state of the Adventist church with my mom and felt so uplifted by the love in our differing opinions.

It wasn’t a bad end to the trip. It wasn’t, perhaps, quite what was anticipated. But isn’t that the point of adventures?

Lessons learned: we packed too much stuff, we packed too much stuff, we packed too much stuff!! Except I should have packed more Imitrex. But other than that–we packed to much stuff!!!!! Take less, do more.

More pictures below:

Look at those sweet sisters holding hands : )




Got my little section of the PCT! <3<3<3

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