Lassen Volcanic Area National Park

In August of 2011, Marcy and I camped and hiked in Lassen Volcanic Area National Park (map). We began our adventures with a hike to Bumpass Hell which was named for a former property named Bumpass. It was said that he lost a leg walking around this area (pictured to the left) when he broke through a thin crust of earth and into the boiling water below.

There was quite a bit of snow no the trail leading to Bumpass Hell because there had been heavy snows in the late Spring and the rangers had not yet taken down the warning sign which read “Trail Hazardous – Travel Not Recommended”. We made our way over the hills and down into the Bumpass Hell basin.

We were careful to stay on the boardwalk and well travelled paths as we didn’t want to end up like Bumpass. There was a strong smell of sulphur although it was not particularly unpleasant. There were many different colors in the rocks and clay-like soil surrounding the area which made the experience somewhat psychedelic.

Next up was a hike to Mill Creek Falls which was a fairly long hike with a lot walking up and down hills.  The falls are quite high and there is an overlook point where you can see the whole falls as well as a wooden foot bridge that crosses the top so allowing you to look down at the water rushing below you.

After that, we made our way to the northern section of the park to hike up and around the cinder cone. The hike up is pretty steep and you are walking on gravel so the footing is not the best.  We got an early start and managed to get to the top before anyone  else so we had the place to ourselves for an hour or so.

The view from the top is breath-taking – and very windy – as you can hear in the video below. There are some trees growning on the top of the cinder cone which provide some shelter from the wind. From the top you can see Mount Lassen, the painted hills, the (so-called) fantastic lava beds and Butte Lake.

From the rim, we hiked down into the basin. There is a steep gravel trail that spirals down to the bottom where a large pile of rocks has been gathered by hikers over the years.

After leaving the Cinder Cone, we made our way down the east side of the park and did some hiking and camping. We were able to manage driving on the logging roads in our Prius which has very low-clearance.

At one point, we stopped in Susanville for some groceries and came out to find that one of our tires was completely flat. We were lucky it didn’t happen when we were camping on the east side of the park since we had no cellphone access there. Between AAA and the help of a local tire repair place, we were able to get back on the road without too much difficulty.

Our last stop in Lassen was the Devil’s Kitchen which is another “local hot spot” with steam vents and bubbling mud pots.

We started out our hike to the Devil’s Kitchen from our campsite near the Drakesbad Guest Ranch. There is a creek running through the meadow behind the ranch that the trail to the Devil’s Kitchen passes through and we discovered several water wheels that someone had created out of what looked like dental floss, bark and wood.

All in all, we really enjoyed our trip to Lassen and would highly recommend it to anyone who’s into hiking, camping and exploring the natural world. One especially nice aspect of visiting Lassen National Volcanic Park is that it’s not as well known as many of the other big parks (like Yosemite) and so even in the height of the season (when we visited) we had no problem finding campsites and none of the trails we hiked on were very crowded. You can view a slidehow of photos from our trip below…

Lassen Volcanic Area National Park

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Jam: Who Knew

Excerpt from a Jam with Marty and Chill Schleich (on bass and drums) from Thursday, February 2, 2012.  We’re jamming on the riff from Who Knows by Jimi Hendrix from the Band of Gypsys Album.  I’m playing my Fender Stratocaster through an Catalinbread Ocatvia Magus II which is responsible for that weird trippy strangled guitar sound and an MXR Carbon Copy Analog Delay into my Micro-Plexi Stack.

Great Pacific Northwest Volcano Tour of 2010

During the summer of 2010, Marcy and I went on a Volcano Tour of the Pacific Northwest.  Here are some photos from the places we visited…

Ape Cave

The Ape Cave is a lava tube located in Gifford Pinchot National Forest just to the south of Mount St. Helens in Washington. It’s the longest continuous lava tube in the United States and runs for 13,042 feet.

Ape Cave

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Mount Saint Helens

Mount St. Helens is an active volcano located about 100 miles south of Seattle, WA and 50 miles north of Portland, OR. It is famous for its catastrophic eruption on May 18, 1980 which was the deadliest and economically destructive volcanic event in the history of the United States. 57 people, 250 homes, 47 bridges, 15 miles of railways, and 185 miles of highway were destroyed in the blast.

Mount Saint Helens

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Painted Hills

Painted Hills is part of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, located in Wheeler County, Oregon. It’s is named after the colorful layers of its hills corresponding to various geological eras, formed when the area was an ancient river floodplain.

Painted Hills

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Big Obsidian Flow

Big Obsidian Flow was created around 1400 years ago during the most recent eruption of Newberry Volcano in the High Lava Plains of central Oregon. This particular flow erupted from a vent or fissure near the southern wall of the caldera and partially engulfed the Lost Lake pumice ring.

Big Obsidian Flow

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Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park, established in 1902, is the sixth oldest national park in the United States and the only one in the state of Oregon. The park encompasses the caldera of Crater Lake, a remnant of a destroyed volcano, Mount Mazama, and the surrounding hills and forests. At 1,949 feet deep at its deepest point, it the deepest lake in the United States and the ninth deepest in the world.

Crater Lake

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Hoodoo Spires

The Hoodoo Spires are an outcrop of spires:that have been sculptured by erosion from ash-flow deposits left by the great Mazama eruption.  As the ash flows cooled, steam escaped upward along intersecting vertical fractures forming thousands of fuming gas vents. During the many years it took to cool the hot avalanche deposits, these rising vapors cemented the pumice and ash into more solid rock. Erosion by streams, rain, wind and gravity on the canyon walls has etched out these once-underground steam pipes into steep pinnacles.

Hoodoo Spires

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Chumash Painted Cave (Santa Barbara)

About a month ago, my partner, Marcy and I paid a visit to the Chumash Painted Cave in the hills above Santa Barbara.  The road up into the hills from Route 154 is narrow and has lots of sharp turns so we were happy to be in a relatively small car.  We used google maps to bring us there, but unfortunately the google maps location was a little off and ended up bringing us to a private residence. Backtracking slightly we found the correct location without too much trouble.  There is a small turnout on the side of the road, big enough to hold two or three cars.
A series of stone steps has been created, leading up from the road to the cave entrance. Being so close to the road, it’s pretty accessible for anyone capable of climbing a short flight of stairs. The rock around and above the entrance has been eroded in a very interesting way creating some very cool textures and patterns, giving a kind of fairy-land appearance.

The entrance is covered by a locked gate due to past incidents of vandalism. There are two “holes” cut into the gate to allow a better view of the pictographs (paintings on rock).

The paintings are thought to be somewhere between several hundred and a thousand years old.  According to Wikipedia, the paint was made from a mixture of mineralized soil, stone mortar, and some kind of liquid binder like blood or oil from animals or mashed seeds. The addition of an oil binder helped to make the paint permanent and waterproof. Orange and red paint contained hematite or iron oxide, while yellow came from limonite, blue and green from copper or serpentine, white from kaolin clays or gypsum, and black from manganese or charcoal.

No one is sure what the pictographs represent, but it has been suggested that images relate to astronomy and religion.  The Chumash oral history says that  the paintings were done by alchuklash (shamans or medicine men) based on visions they had duing hallucinogenic trances brought on by  potent native tobacco or jimsonweed. The interpretive sign suggests that the black circle may represent a solar eclipse which occurred in 1677 AD.

Google Music App: Unable to download songs at this time…

A few weeks ago, I started having problems with the Google Music App on my Android phone (HTC Thunderbolt running Cyanogen Mod 7). Every time I tried to download (‘pin’) songs that I had uploaded to google music in the cloud, I kept getting this message:

unable to download songs at this time, please check your internet connection

I couldn’t figure out what was wrong since it happened when I was connected on both Wifi and 3G/4G and no other apps were having connection problems.  I googled the error message and found very few posts about it so I guess not too many people were getting this error.

After days of trying to troubleshoot this problem, while a song was playing, I impulsively clicked on “make this song available offline” and I suddenly got a message saying that my SD card was full. There were 2GB still free on my 16GB card but google music was not willing to use that last bit up, I guess. I cleared some space off the SD drive and the downloading from google music started working again.

I just wanted to post this in case someone out there runs into the same bogus message from the google music app.  Clearing some space on your SD card may solve your problem.

I also unchecked the box that said “stream music in the highest quality” which seems to have helped me fit more music on my phone and with no obvious deterioration in sound quality – and I’m an audio engineer so I am sensitive to sound quality.