Saturday, August 18, 2018

Cold Boiling Lake

So there we were, all done with our Lassen Peak hike and  in a manner of speaking, all dressed up and nowhere to go. While epic and challenging, the hike to the summit of Lassen Peak had been a fairly short 5.5 miles or so and a whole afternoon stretched out ahead of us. Nobody wanted to go hang out in a smoky campground just yet, so eventually it was decided we'd do a follow up hike to Cold Boiling Lake, chosen because that while you can't judge a book by its cover, you can choose a hike because of a really cool boiling name.

Cliffs overlooking Little Hot Springs Valley
So, leaving the trailhead parking lot, I turned on the left turn signal but the map reader and direction-giver in the back seat insisted we turn right. So right it was, since it is my general policy never to argue with maps. However, after a surprisingly lengthy drive, the park exit came into view and it was then that we all realized we had gone the wrong way and our map reader (who shall remain nameless) was unceremoniously relieved of that duty. But no complaining or trolling allowed because while our friends were off hiking, we were off touring Lassen Volcanic National Park, and that is not a bad thing at all.

Be glad this is not a scratch 'n sniff photo!
We did stop at the Sulphur Works, which is basically a collection of boiling (and not cold boiling, either) mud pots and steamy sulphuric vents that perfumed the general vicinity with that sweet intoxicating smell of fetid ass. The mud pots were small pools of gray mud that were boiling and bubbling like some witch's brew that stank of effluvium. The air was filled with humid steam, like a bathroom with a fan turned off during a shower and from personal experience, it was difficult to take photographs with one hand on the camera while pinching your nose shut with the other.

Sulphur tinted landscape
The surrounding landscape was barren and unnaturally colored due to the numerous sulphur seeps permeating the slopes at the Sulphur Works. In a ravine below, Suphur Creek flowed, the color of the water tinted an odd green-yellow color. I made a mental note that if I were ever to backpack along Sulphur Creek, I probably should not drink the water. Anyway, after taking lots of photographs of the illegal-chemical-dumplike landscape, we piled into the car and headed back in the general direction of camp.

A large and sparse meadow along the trail
Meanwhile, the other half of our contingent had already hiked Cold Boiling Lake and were off exploring nearby Kings Creek Falls. Unaware of where everybody else was, we set out on the Cold Boiling Lake Trail and never saw our friends until we reached camp. But that's OK, we still got to hike to the geological oddity that is Cold Boiling Lake.

Even the fungus are sulphuric in color
Nearby Kings Creek is a popular destination in Lassen Park and the parking lot was full to the point of overflowing. It is a short and relatively flat hike to Cold Boiling Lake and we did encounter plenty of other hikers. The hike to the lake wasn't that much, passing through a relatively plain lodgepole forest, but there was a dead tree with huge clumps of bright yellow fungus sprouting forth from it like so many unnaturally colored cauliflower heads. It was a fungal Sulphur Works of sorts and we stopped and took more pictures. Well, to be accurate, Penny and I clicked off lots of photos, while Edwin good-naturedly stood nearby like a patient parent waiting for the kiddie ride to stop. 

The bubbling spring at Cold Boiling Lake
Cold Boiling Lake gets its name from a small but active spring at the lake. Seems that, much like my brother on spaghetti night, pressure from below forces gases to finally bubble out into the world. Unlike my brother's gases however, the air contained within the bubbles are not noxious and have no capability of peeling paint and corroding metals. And unlike the foul vapors emanating from the Sulphur Works, these gases are not hot and steamy either. The spring simply sports a constant stream of innocuous bubbles percolating in the water, much like the aerator in an aquarium. 

Cold Boiling Lake
From a Wonder of the World standpoint, the bubbling spring was somewhat underwhelming even though it was also curious and interesting at the same time. The lake itself was pretty enough though, reposing in a grassy meadow below a forested slope and we sat and relaxed for a bit, taking in the scenery before returning to the car.

Penny and John work on The Best Salad Ever
At camp, we were all getting ready to cook our individual meals and since this was the last night of our trip, there was a certain camraderie due to our shared hiking adventures over the long weekend. Those who partook, shared wine and beer and those who didn't, shared their general goodwill and cheer. Soon it was time for dinner and when Penny whipped out a large bowl of salad greens, that inspired everybody to search their remaining food stuffs and contribute to the salad-in-progress. The result was The Best Salad Ever and there was enough of it to feed everyone. A bold and daring ground squirrel managed to purloin a cantaloupe rind, agreeing with us that it was a fine meal indeed. Consisting of salad greens, chicken, nuts, canteloupe, oranges, and tangerines, the salad nearly surpassed any wonders that Lassen Volcanic Park had to offer. All life should be like that salad.

Daring camp raider
Sad to say, the next morning we all packed up and returned to the smoky air of southern Oregon, our brief but happy interlude at Lassen Volcanic National Park behind us. For more pictures of Cold Boiling Lake and some of the other Lassen Park sights, please visit the Flickr album.

1 comment :

  1. I've hiked to that lake too! And it is kind of underwhelming. Looks like you had a great bunch of people to hike/camp with.