I started blogging my John Muir Trail adventures the other day and it just got… overwhelming. How do you go about sharing hundreds of images from one of the most meaningful, challenging, growth inspiring trips you have ever been on?! For me the answer was: You don’t. You seek out a backpacking trip you did in May 2015 and find your favorite images. It’s a good one though and an easy trip to take yourself, so I’m happy to share it here with you today.
Lassen has a lot of elevation change within the park. We backpacked in lower elevation and then after our trip, drove up and out through the snow. It was a beautiful change after a couple nights in the back country and it’s fun to do both during the Spring.
I’ve included the map of our trip below, but for a general sense, know that we did the drive up there and a few miles of hiking in the drizzling rain on the first day and then pitched a camp in a pretty, isolated spot, off the trail. The stars were killer that night and it was finally dry after a day of wet skies. I always feel so good on the first night of a backpacking trip: We finally made it out of the craziness that is the city and bustling life and there’s no nothing to distract us but stars and each other.
One of the wonderful things about this trip is the number of lakes. You’ll have no shortage of water to drink which is great because then you don’t have to worry about carrying a ton of heavy water at once. Plus, it’s stunningly beautiful. A lot of them had wonderful, still surfaces and beautiful reflections. Coupled with the on and off storms (plus tons of sunny weather), we had incredible sunsets both nights.
The loop we choose had a chance to take an easy route (shorter miles) and a harder route. We picked the long way around and went for a 15 mile day our second (and only full) day of hiking. I’m glad we did because the lakes and trail were beautiful, but we did have one section that was unmaintained. I can’t say I relished climbing over dozens of fallen trees that lay across the “trail.” We weren’t sure if this was just because the park hadn’t opened again for summer tourists in earnest, but there were definitely other backpackers and the lack of cut trees was definitely a pain.
As we backpacked out on the last day, there was an intense thunderstorm that had my heart pounding. There’s almost nothing that scares me too much in the back country, but dammit, lighting is the one thing that will truly freak me out. Anyways, we practiced back country safety and made it out juuuust fine. 😉
Here’s the loop. I definitely recommend it for a nice little weekend trip. We just did a walk up permit and filled it out ourselves (the ranger station was closed when we got there, but they have a self service iron ranger thing where you can get it sorted out).
And here’s the snow in the upper bits of Lassen National Park. Below is Lake Helen and then the drive along, past Bumpass Hell (closed when we were there in May), and out the park entrance.