Dawn greeted us warmly on the forest floor at Gurnsey Campground and we were caffeinated and on the trail to Brokeoff Mountain in Lassen by 9, almond butter and jelly sandwiches in hand. The wildflowers—rosy buckwheats, orange stream lillies, daisies, purple lupine—were in their glorious wildflower-ness, and the bees are alive and well in the southern Cascades! We saw deer, chipmunks, and hummingbirds, too.
The hike was so pleasant, with gradual elevation gains, lively poseys, and gamboling forest creatures…until it wasn’t. It’s 3.5 miles up to a 9500 foot elevation. Anyone who has ever hiked a mountain of size knows what happens next: the last mile or so was a tree-less switch-back slog. But even THAT wasn’t bad, given the panoramic views.
The air was a little thin at the summit for us coastsiders, but the view was spectacular: snow-covered Shasta in the distance, Mount Lassen ahead of us, mountain lakes dotting the landscape. There were 6 of us who reached the summit within 10 minutes of each other: we met folks from Fairfield, CT and Maine. There were two National Park Volunteers who were on the trail and also happen to own a restaurant in Sonoma; we got their business card and a hearty welcome to stop in on our way home in a few weeks. We may.
We could see clouds gathering in the distance as we headed back to the car. After a celebratory selzer, we drove out of the valley in search of an internet connection when…. Hail storm! AACK!! Real live hail vigorously pelting the van. Rain! Thunder! Who knew it still rained in California?!
After a few hours, the rain appears to be letting up. We write this from inside the van. It’s 6:45pm. Earlier, Dudley rigged a tarp over the open doors of the kitchen area, so dinner was fairly dry. But this is what we signed up for: beautiful hikes, stunning views and the occasional freak hailstorm. This is the fun.
Next stop: Crater Lake in Oregon! Any suggestions for ‘musts sees’ joyfully accepted!